“If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something l“If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom.” So challenges John Medina, director of The Brain Center for Applied Learning Research, in the introduction to his book Brian Rules, which explores the brain’s amazing abilities and limitations. Some of the factors he investigates that affect mental capacity the most are: Exercise. It not only boosts your thinking skills and neural connections, it reduces your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s by fifty percent or more. Sleep. If exercise is good for the brain, then it might surprise you that its opposite, sleep, is just as good, as shown in workers whose afternoon naps of only 26 minutes improved performance by a whopping 34 percent. Insufficient sleep, on the other hand, severely interferes with attention, executive function, memory, and logic skills. Stress. Stress, especially chronic, at work, home or school, can disconnect neural networks and lead to a state of cognitive collapse that imitates the learned helplessness of concentration camp victims. Stress can lead to significantly lessened productivity at school or work, and can be improved by receiving more specific, measurable and attainable goals in performance. Couple counseling focused on decreased hostility results in less stressed kids as well as adults carrying less stress with them into the workplace. Further, stress produces excess adrenaline, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Wiring. Each mind is unique and has preferred subjects and methods of learning, and there are many ways of being intelligent. Environment matters, too. “All else being equal, it has been known for many years that smaller, more intimate schools create better learning environments than megaplex houses of learning. Smaller is better because a teacher can deeply understand the individual needs of only so many students.” For best results, assign learning and working roles at school and work based on aptitude, not on a one-size-fits all assembly line basis. Memory. Memory needs a hook, and this hook needs to be both emotional and relevant to the subject. Stories and anecdotes, jokes, related pictures or videos can all be used at regular intervals in presentations to keep the brains engaged and aid in memory retention. In the 1850s, German researcher Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that “People usually forget 90 percent of what they learn in a class within 30 days. And the majority of this forgetting occurs within the first few hours after class.” This is not new information, yet we have persisted in faulty teaching methodology in classrooms for the past 150 years. Senses. Senses can be used to improve memory accessibility. Smells and music can trigger memories and strongly, almost predictably, influence behavior. Of all the senses, though, vision trumps all. “We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.” Bottom line: Humans are born insatiably curious and learn through exploration. This can be cured, however, by placing them in classrooms, telling them what and how they must learn, and then assigning symbolic grades to tests of remembered facts. Natural “Fascination can become secondary to ‘What do I need to know to get the grade?’”. We must follow our passions, allow time and space for exploration of ideas both at home and at work.
“For most men, the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.”
Austrian-born Ivan Illich, author of Deschooling Society, lists lif“For most men, the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.”
Austrian-born Ivan Illich, author of Deschooling Society, lists life-long accomplishments and passions, not formal education, as his credentials. Assistant pastor at an Irish-Puerto Rican parish in New York City, and later serving as vice-rector to the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, he co-founded of the Center for Intercultural Documentation in Cuervabaca, Mexico.
In his philosophy and experience, public and compulsory education, and the widely accepted means of documenting acquired knowledge via certification and diploma, broadens the gap between the opportunities for the rich and the poor, and drains Western society coffers with ever-worsening scores and economic opportunities.
“All over the world the school has an anti-education effect on society.”
His essays compel, yet we highly-schooled masses want charts and documentation—especially since four decades have passed since this writing—to prove what we have feared all along. Public compulsory education and certification-before-employment is a failed social experiment. We cannot, and need not, force children to learn against their will, and we cannot enforce brains to absorb the facts and ideas that state-sanctioned curriculum writers arbitrarily deem necessary for every citizen. He logically and systematically contends that most true learning occurs outside of school.
“Learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others…not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting.”
Schooling assumes that we cannot learn without a teacher. It further renders unreliable any teacher without credentials behind his name. More schooling is necessary to form more teachers, and more curricula, ad infinitum. Like any other cultish institution, schools promote the further growth of themselves, not the knowledge they advertise, a process which ruins true opportunity for enlightenment. Further, as the primary shapers of modern thought, the education system has authority to fund itself and punish detractors. This is not freedom.
“By making men abdicate the responsibility for their own growth, school leads many to a kind of spiritual suicide.”
Mandated, “universal education through schooling is not feasible.” However, knowledge is everywhere, scattered like treasure in books, study groups, mentorships, the internet, and myriad classes available at Civic centers and churches. We can’t be stopped from learning, despite our education. ...more
This collection of piratical knowledge is beautiful enough to display proudly on any coffeetable, with its gilded-lettered faux-leather binding and jeThis collection of piratical knowledge is beautiful enough to display proudly on any coffeetable, with its gilded-lettered faux-leather binding and jewel-tone compass rose emblazoned on the cover; yet it is also incredibly informative in nautical terminology, geography, and the lore of legendary pirates. With pull-out letters, charts, and maps, you find yourself immersed almost as a fellow-traveler on the mysterious and tumultuous path of pirate-hunter, Captain William Lubber, on his quest around the world to bring dread pirate Arabella Drummond to justice. I bought it on National Talk Like a Pirate Day a couple weeks ago, and don’t know how I ever lived without it....more
I was intrigued by the old-fashioned camera artwork on the cover, plus the by-line under the titled which read, “One novel, ten authors,” when I arbitI was intrigued by the old-fashioned camera artwork on the cover, plus the by-line under the titled which read, “One novel, ten authors,” when I arbitrarily picked this book up from the library. Each chapter, written by award-winning authors such as Eoin Colfer and Gregory Maguire, had a unique flavor and voice, yet each contributed strongly to the overall theme of seeing, truly seeing, the world around us, and daring to become the lens through which others can see our own personal truths, mingle with them, and then pass them uniquely on as well. This book was a fresh, creative, quick read that reinforces the value of each individual’s voice; and moreover, the proceeds, should you purchase it, benefit the work of Amnesty International towards protecting this basic human right around the world....more
This photography compilation of the amazing biodiversity in our world’s coral reefs is the most beautiful I have seen. My whole family has spent manyThis photography compilation of the amazing biodiversity in our world’s coral reefs is the most beautiful I have seen. My whole family has spent many hours poring over the pages, enthralled not only with the vivid images, but also with the fascinating tales of the divers and scientists involved in the project. When I see fish that cut sea grass clippings to throw onto their backs for camouflage, or crabs that use sea anemone clubs to box their enemies, or descriptions of bizarre symbiotic relationships that seem pulled from the pages of a science fiction novel, I am awestruck at the splendor, complexity and wonder of our beautiful planet. The two-page spread on eyes alone could inspire a sonnet, maybe a haiku. Whatever your theory on the origins of life, this book will reinvest you with love for the miraculous process by which our universe was formed....more