Brain Based learnnig - Essay Example

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Brain based learning is a broad theory that relies upon the idea that the human brain learns naturally and employs a wide range of scientific findings about the structure and function of the brain. Advocates of this theory claim that brain based learning provides a highly effective framework for learning and teaching as well as variety of tools and instruments to be applied within this framework…
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Brain Based Learning 2007 Brain Based Learning Brain based learning is a broad theory that relies upon the idea that the human brain learns naturally and employs a wide range of scientific findings about the structure and function of the brain. Advocates of this theory claim that brain based learning provides a highly effective framework for learning and teaching as well as variety of tools and instruments to be applied within this framework. One of the key purposes of brain-based learning is establishing a link between learning and real life experiences of the student (Caine, & Caine, 1991).
The origins of brain based learning can be traced back upon the cognitive learning theory. The main feature of cognitive approach is the principle of conscious information processing: it focuses upon "learners' ways of receiving, storing retrieving, transforming, and transmitting information" (Merriam and Caffarella, 2001). Jerome Bruner, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, the brightes representatives of this approach, strongly believed that students must actively construct their own knowledge.
Thus, Vygotsky claims that the process of learning is socially determined and the teacher is supposed to control and supervise learning instead of providing strict directions (Vigotsky, 1997). Piaget argues that children independently form their understanding of the world perceiving different information and creating their own cognitive schemes. Therefore, the role of teacher is not very important when supervision is concerned: excessively rigorous supervision and control reduce the child's ability and desire to discover the world independently (Ginsberg, & Opper, 1979). Brunner holds the same opinion, but he also recognizes the role of teachers in organization of learning process claiming that effective organization greatly facilitates children's discovery of the world (Bruner, 1966).
Regular education teachers often fail to consider these valuable findings in their teaching strategies. Brain based learning employs a number of cognitivist findings to design highly effective learning environments. Caine and Caine (1991) list 12 principles of brain based learning:
1. The brain is an extremely complex adaptive system that can perform several operations at once;
2. The brain is social in its nature;
3. The search for meaning is innate;
4. The search for meaning comes through patterning;
5. Emotions are critical to patterning;
6. The brain perceives and creates wholes and parts simultaneously;
7. Learning involves focused attention and peripheral perception;
8. Learning involves conscious and unconscious processes;
9. Human has at least two types of memory, namely spatial and rote;
10. Spatial memory facilitates learning because it is developmental in its nature;
11. Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat;
12. Organization of each brain is unique.
These principles of brain based learning strongly affects such aspects of education as curriculum, assessment, and especially instructional planning in the classroom. The defining principles of traditional education - direct instructional methods and exclusive authority of the teacher - are replaced with a milder instructional model that places particular attention to students' teamwork and involvement of peripheral learning. Brain based learning implies that the process of learning must be structured around real problems and encouraging learning outside the classroom. These instructional principles are realized in the following instructional techniques:
Orchestrated immersion: absolute immersion of students in learning experiences;
Relaxed alertness: alleviating fear and nervousness of the students, while maintaining a challenging environment;
Active processing: allowing the learner to consolidate and internalize information by actively processing it (Caine & Caine, 1991)
Brain based learning provides the teacher with an understanding of mechanism underlying the process of learning, which, in its turn, makes it possible to make teaching more effective than ever before.

Bruner, J. (1990). "Culture and human development: A new look". Human development, 33, pp. 344-355
Caine, R. & Caine, G. (1991). Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD
Merriam, S. B. & Caffarella, R. S. (1991). Learning in Adulthood. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Ginsberg, H., & Opper, S. (1979). Piaget's theory of intellectual development (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Vygotsky, L. (1997). Educational Psychology. Boca Raton, Florida: St. Lucie Press Read More
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