Monday, August 15, 2011

Brain-Based Learning: Guideline Four

The fourth brain-based learning guideline according to Dr. Sousa is:

past experience always affects new learning.

This is huge, maybe more than the brain based theory from two weeks ago that emotions affect aspects of learning, retention, and recall.

The simplest example I can think that supports this theory is that when children have a positive experience they are more willing to learn a similar task. For example, Ty does multiple puzzles a day. He naturally started with board puzzles and experienced excitement from the reward of seeing the puzzle together. He continues to work his way up to more and more pieces of jigsaw puzzles. Part of that is because he learned the skills. It is also because his past experiences were enjoyable and that transfers to his new learning with so many puzzle pieces.

So what is the flip-side of that? Children who were screamed at in the past for not understanding a new concept may react with fear when they do not understand a new concept. They may lie and say they do understand. They may shut down. They may cheat.

Emotions from past experiences, shame or joy, influences present learning.

Those are two extremes, the positive and the negative of past experience affecting new learning. Capitalizing on this guideline can help parents learn more, in better ways.