How We Learn: new discoveries

I am adding a recent TED ED – PBS program, “Unstoppable Learning,” which includes four researchers in the field of learning. I recommend that you get a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and listen all the way through. Education is undergoing radical transformation as new research is directing experts and parents and hopefully some day, educators, to bring education into the 21st Century:

TED Radio Hour 

And here is a play list of 10 educational TED talks which explore more of what we are discovering how children learn and where is education going:

Ten Educational Talks

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How we understand the learning process is evolving in tandem with cognitive and brain research in the 21st century. These studies are causing many educators and psychologists to rethink public education. What is being discovered has real implications for environmental educators and anyone concerned with the development of generations of ecologically attuned individuals.

New developmental and cognitive science research points to the role of play, music, movement, story telling and memory as fundamental to intelligence, resiliency, and creativity. What we have typically thought of as enriching the creative, spiritual life of individuals has direct correlates with development of higher cognitive skills.

Adele Diamond was recently interviewed by Krista Tippet on Diamond is a cognitive scientists. Listen to what she has learned about developing the prefrontal cortex – the newest area in human brain evolution – and seat of our highest brain function.

Diamond describes how play, movement, and creative contexts for learning develop important skills that students will need in the 21st century. Cultural traditions are also being studied for their role in higher learning skills. She gives the example of the traditional talking stick and circle used by indigenous cultures. By promoting listening and delayed responses (discernment and judgement), children learn skills that promote better friendships and relationships  based on recall of experiences during the listening process. Spiritual teachers might call this development of attention. These traditional methods can be incorporated into classroom activities. In a time when our emphasis is on learning content (to pass the national standards tests) we have cut out the most important learning tools (art, music, physical exercise, play, and time for exploration). What we need to develop Diamond refers to as executive functions. These are mediated in the prefrontal cortex.

Time in nature is also important to brain development as explored by Richard Louv.

Nature Deficit Disorder is a condition Louv identified in children who spend inordinate amounts of time indoors, usually on electronic devices, rather than spending time in a natural environment with all its sensory stimulation, exercise, play, beauty, and opportunities for observation.

The Dalai Lama’s Mind and Life Institute invited experts and spiritual leaders to reflect on this new science of learning. Listen to the sessions on Mind, Brain, and Matter. In the discussions the scientific method of inquiry was compared with typical Buddhist inquiry methodology. These sessions are lengthy but very rich. I suggest that you take each one as an opportunity to relax on your couch or easy chair and give it your whole attention.







Author: Susan Feathers

Family, friends, nature, books, writing, a good pen and journal, freedom of thought, culture, and peaceful co-relations - these are the things that occupy my mind, my heart, my time...

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