Brain-based What?

Over on What It’s Like On the Inside, The Science Goddess is aptly referencing the Broadway musical Young Frankenstein in her discussion of “brain-based learning strategies.” You have to read her post for yourself and pay special attention to her links that will lead you to a short rant about the similarities between brain-based and butt-based learning strategies authored by Professor Plum, who may or may not still be stirring up the edublogosphere.

Maybe the reason I enjoyed her post so much is because I’ve always struggled with what to call my favorite focus (brain potential) on teaching and learning strategies (in addition to “grading for learning”). After all, we weren’t born with brain-use instruction manuals attached to our big toes…

I finally decided, after considerable deliberation over the years, to go my own way, depart from popular education research reporting, and call all the “stuff” under the heading “brain-based” by somewhat different names, to whit, “brain-friendly teaching strategies,” and “brain-friendly learning strategies.” My students could deal with that and so could their parents.

To be perfectly frank, my students and I never put much time into brain physiology, which seems to be an obligatory preface to discussing (and practicing) brain potential for learning, but in the end, useless.

What the brain can do is what lights up my Christmas tree. My students and I had lots of conversations about learning potential being virtually infinite, and old age being no barrier to continued learning (thank you, God). And, at the beginning of the school year, I promised to share with them ways to access this incredible potential.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the difference between the instructional and learning techniques, and some of those techniques that helped my students harness their own brainpower. It’s not your ordinary, everyday classroom stuff. Two of the ideas I’ll highlight helped me get a 4.0 in graduate school, without a brain transplant or any increase in I.Q.

I’ll include some references in case anyone is curious about how to maximize their students’ achievement potential by applying some of these concepts.


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