Monday, October 31, 2011

Brain-Based Learning: Guideline Nine

This is it! The final guideline under Dr. Sousa's "daily planning, general guidelines." When I started this series, I wondered if each guideline differed enough to warrant nine separate posts. I think they do.

The final guideline:

Each brain is unique.

Ahh, clearly the obvious. Obviously the simple truth all teachers and parents know. Each child and his/her brain is unique.

Everyone brings unique perspectives and different experiences to each lesson, making each response unique. The other day I posted on Facebook a cartoon about fairy tales. Everyone chimed in, but it turns out that the way everyone interpreted the cartoon largely depended on each experience of growing up with these cartoons - old Halloween costumes, their parents' reactions, etc. (Even adults forget this fact that tons of experiences form an outlook). It is overwhelming to think that students and children have so many different experiences.

Each brain is unique, and every building will be unique as well.

That is the "nurture" part that contributes to each brain being unique. I feel like science is now impressing facts in education, that leads to the idea - what about the physical part of each brain? How is each brain unique, physically - perhaps "nature"?

It could begin in-utero, when brains begin to form. The research is strong on what happens to early brains. Zero to Three covers everything from abuse to general experiences form the physical aspects of the brain. What food the parents feed the child contributes to brain development as well.

How do we separate the nurture and nature aspects of the brain? I think this is what brain-based learning is telling parents and teachers - they cannot be separated. Everything influences children's brains.

Which leads us to a challenging, scary, and important fact: if each brain is unique, each learning pattern is unique. As a parent, as a teacher, that makes my eyebrows go up. Rarely do I teach a lesson and feel I reached every student. I keep trying, being patient, explaining different ways - am I alone here?

I fear that I leave this brain-based learning series with more questions than answers. Each brain is unique, which is wonderful and what makes each student special. It also makes teaching and reaching each student that much more important. That is a tough order.

So, does brain-based learning impress you, or does it overwhelm you? What do you think now that we have covered it all?

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