looked like because there would be no recognition or match.” (p.114)
That led me to another big theme which was memory and the formation of the knowledge base in ourselves and our students. As teachers, we try to activate prior knowledge to then build on that with new learning, moving our students closer to mastery (expert) level. So my question is, what if they don’t have that prior knowledge? How can we build it and level that playing field for our kids? This is where vision is key. Wolfe uses the work of psychiatrist Dan Siegel to give us a great example of how we use vision to form memories and even when we don’t see that image in front of us we use our “mind’s eye”. (Wolfe, p. 108-109). Asked to picture the Eiffel Tower, the brain using the temporal (decoding) and occipital lobes (visual processing) to create the image in our mind and we “see” the Eiffel Tower. “It is interesting that when you recall a visual image of something you previously viewed, you are activating many of the same neural networks that were activated originally (Begley, 2008).” (Wolfe, p. 109) Wolfe goes on to share examples of how some psychologists, neuroscientists, and psychiatrists can agree that “neurons that fire together, survive together, and wire together (Siegel, 2000)”.
That quote by Siegel perplexed me and I wanted to learn more about what he had to say on this. I watched his lecture entitled “We Feel, Therefore We Learn; the Neuroscience of Social Emotion”. He discusses and supports much of what we have been learning on the brain, but he goes on to differentiate between the neuroscience of the brain to what is the “mind”. Siegel defines the “mind” (defining it is controversial in itself) as “an embodied (whole body, not just in the skull) and relational process, not a noun, a moving flowing dynamic process, which regulates energy and information”. He asserts that learning is social and we learn through relationships. I believe that assertion falls in line with our readings this week. Wolfe tells us, “two factors strongly influence whether the brain initially attends to arriving information and whether this attention will be sustained. These two factors are meaning and emotion…” (p. 116) In chapter 9 she gives many examples of how to use this information to guide our teaching in our classroom, “simulations and role-plays often are highly engaging and enhance not only the meaning of the material but the emotional connections as well.” (Wolfe, p. 140) Another suggestion she gives “to raise the emotional and motivational stakes” is solving real world problems. Medina gives us some real life application as well when discussing vision and its importance to learning:
- Teachers should learn why pictures grab attention
- Teachers should use computer animation
- Test the power of images (teachers and researchers need to collaborate)
- Communicate with pictures more than words
- Toss your power point presentations (or make new ones, less text, more pictures) (Brain Rules, p. 237-239)
There is much to ponder here and I look forward to continuing to read and learn more about our brain, learning, and application in the classroom.
Dr. Daniel Siegel, MD – We feel, therefore we learn: the neuroscience of social emotion: http://youtu.be/iPkaAevFHWU