Move Brainpower into Reconfigured Learning

eweber   January 21, 2009   24 Comments

It’s no secret that secondary schools stunt teens’ talent, yet where is the stir for strategies to boost brainpower they bring to class daily? Sit through a university lecture, and you’ll agree that brainpower remains untapped, even for faculty. Learners hold amazing segues into mental reserves, yet educational organizations look the other way, dump good money after bad, and protect turf for tenured teaching from another era. Have you seen it happen? 

In much the same way,  organizations face financial failure with bored workers subjected to rigid routines while brainpower dies daily. It doesn’t have to be that way.

According to Robert Lee Holtz, Wall Street Journal Science Columnist, Researchers found that sudden insights or Eureka moments show unique neural activity in EEG sensors. Interesting, ahha moments of sudden insights are the culmination of an intense and complex series of brain states that require more neural resources that methodological reasoning. It seems the brain is most actively engaged when our mind is wandering and we’ve actually lost track of our thoughts.

Brainpower impacts moods, motivation and achievement, and should be top priority for reconfigured learning:

1. Avoid talent shrinkage by generating one different approach to improve your day.  Overcome a problem you face, with brainpower you possess, and you’ll reconfigure your brain for further solutions. If your problem is lack of funding – then propose a program that draws more on brainpower and less on an already tightening public purse, and expect a new world of possibilities to open.

2. Run from lectures that hold you captive, and draw on multiple intelligences while you listen. While people speak, you’re better off to sketch one thing spoken, then apply it later to improve your week. Or craft a letter to the editor based on solving one problem the lecture identified. Why let lectures leak out brainpower when you could add creative edges with winning results? Research shows you retain less than 5% of what you hear in lectures, yet retain 90% of what you teach others while you learn yourself.

3. Turn boredom into choices that ratchet up brainpower instead. Luckily, just as boredom’s a choice, brain research shows that interest can be cultivated for even a boring task. Motivation’s shaped by choices you make and approaches you create to complete what you do. As Helen Keller said, Life must become a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.

4.  Learning should not be isolated from learner experiences,  facts left idle to gather dust in obscure essays, or details dumped into heads like water into buckets. Draw vital brain based insights from neuro-discoveries, in language people understand, for solutions they use to improve real life situations. Have you seen brain based learning approaches, where facts fuel wisdom into well being and perpetuate progress?

5. Only recently has awareness grown about harmful learning practices that work against human brains. Daily, though, teens find themselves subjected to these toxic teaching tactics.  We’ve also learned recently that chemicals such as serotonin open minds to learning, while cortisol, which is associated with anger, fear, stress, boredom, or frustration – tends to shut down learning. Which chemicals come with learning circles in your area?

During a lifetime teaching teens, young adults, university faculty and business leaders, I’ve yet to see people come to tables without capabilities brimming over! So if the problem is not with learners, and if we know far more about human brains, how then can we create new climates for high impact minds? What do you think?

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Smart skill 35 = Move People Back to Center
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Smart skill 37 = Move Brainpower into Reconfigured Learning
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24 thoughts on “Move Brainpower into Reconfigured Learning

  1. eweber Post author

    Patrick wow – you hit the nail on the head in a major way. You are so right – I also learned how to teach other leaders and faculty — without every engaging the brain in the process! Yikes — how can it happen! Or maybe we need to ask — why does great learning over a lifetime rarely happen at all?

    Imagine the power in learning how to learn, Patrick! Imagine the peace that would come to replace current wars that were started in violent ways to scream what people want – cause they don’t know how to articulate it – or negotiate it – or collaborate it. Yikes – you are onto something here:-)

    Patrick, we need a global think tank of this topic — led by wonderful new neuro discoveries that would help us to apply new doable tactics! What do you think?

  2. Very Evolved

    It certainly wouldn’t hurt!

    I think the only way to make a country or the world better is by making everyone of it’s citizens better.

    Better educated voters ask harder questions and more of them, of our elected officials. Politicians would then be forced to be better and act better in response – if that is what the electorate is demanding.

    And better educated doesn’t mean learning any sort of dogma – scientific or religious.

    It means that people know how to learn by themselves and THEY ask the best questions independently.


    Very Evolveds last blog post..Follow the Herd. How behavior and stories spread through online crowds

  3. eweber Post author

    Yesterday I was invited to a big project here in Rochester to move inner city teens into a new kind of learning circle and approach and I suggested the idea of helping teens to formulate great 2-footed questions at the beginning of each day to guide their curiosity for that day.

    All to say – the notion of forming questions that stoke curiosity is a skill that takes a brain to a better place – yet their are tactics to do it well and these are learned rather than assumed. Most faculty use few questions themselves to stoke genuine interest in growing:-)

    The key is to stir motivation and use tactics that will spark that first:-) Tactics and approaches can be learned and when people see how well they work, they will sometimes let go of traditional tools (such as lectures) That do little for anybody but the lecturer:-)

  4. Conrad

    Ellen, I’m right in the middle of a battle for the retention of the structure that leads to electives flourishing in our local secondary schools. The problem is the priorities for programs as money dwindles.

    No child left behind is the mantra for many, but it really is no child left untested. And it really is a stultifying atmosphere they seek.

    It’s a shame.

  5. eweber Post author

    So glad you are doing this Conrad, bravo! Wow – that’s great news, because one problem with schools is that they are rarely about students, or brainpower, or success. When they are – they work. We’ve been recently drawn into some amazing projects from progressive thinkers who are moving forward with students’ success in mind and we’ve never been more excited. I’ve written books on tactics that work – so it will be fun to applying some again that do, in a setting that impacts students. I know longer teach students – but do facilitate faculty and admin and that too is wonderful work for a busy center:-)

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