Sunday, March 7, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Brain-Based Learning, Core Principle 10

Thank you for brain based learning theory number 10 (one of my favorites, dorky that I have favorite, I know): 

We understand best when facts are embedded in natural, spatial memory.

Yes, yes we do. How many of us utilized our rote memory for a test, using flash card after flash card? I did. I can't remember a darn term from my high school anatomy class but I sure can wire an electrical outlet because I practice on a real outlet. I was taught to do that naturally where the terms did not seem funny or out of place. Natural is best when it comes to learning. 


This can go two ways: positive and negative. I've flipped out at the dog several times only to see my son staring at me and learning, "the dog pukes up wood chips, this must be how we respond." I think we've all done that (and regretted it and felt guilty and so on). But yes, children do learn facts, where that is how to react or how to greet or how to apologize to someone from our natural environment. Hopefully, it is more positive than negative. 

As far as teaching "facts" such as ABCs, numbers and later, reading and adding and then still later, grammar and algebra, people do remember and learn better when their natural and spatial memory is tapped. How do we do this? Well, it goes along with the cliche of "a life long learner." I always believe parents do not need fanciness to teach, but merely common sense every day activities. For instance, Ty "helps" me cook. This normally involves him dumping a cup or sugar or a teaspoon of salt into a bowl. But what else can he learn in this natural environment?

  • Before we start, he washes his hands, which teaches him about science, health and germs. It requires about a 2 sentence explanation for me. Lately, he's questioned where the water goes, so I'm sure we are going to continue learning as we (very simply) wash our hands. 
  • He watches me read the recipe, which I read to him, which teaches him letters and numbers.
  • He sees me double check my measurements. Hopefully, he can take this learning and apply it to double checking his homework or his book bag for school.
  • He realizes patience is required. Getting all the ingredients out, showing him that the product is not immediately finished and that we must clean up our mess is an important lesson. Food doesn't just POOF appear, just like learning and so many other processes in life don't. We must wait and be patient. 

How have you engaged your child's quest to be a life long learner, or taught facts in a natural way?