Brain Rules

Dr. John Medina wrote a New York Times Bestselling book named Brain Rules.  Every educator or parent really should know about the 12 principles discussed in this book.  Rules #4, #9 and #10 are a particular interest to me as a language teacher.

#4 | ATTENTION | “We don’t pay attention to boring things.”

#9 | SENSORY INTEGRATION | “Stimulate more of the senses.”

Medina discusses cognitive psychologist Richard Mayer and his work to link multimedia exposure and learning.  Multisensory input has better results in student learning than unisensory learning environments.  This is really a no-brainer for me and many teachers because for decades now we hear about “differentiated instruction.”  What does differentiated instruction look like, feel like, sound like?  I think it can come in many forms and is especially evident in a classroom that teaches with comprehensible input.

The main take away is—-we learn best when we stimulate several senses at once.

#10 | Vision | “Vision trumps all other senses.”

“Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.”

I think of the American society when I think about how fixated we are on how things look.  We care so much about the colors of food, or the symmetry in a face or body, or the special effects of movies or games.  We get a little carried away sometimes.  It is no doubt that marketing strategies have taken advantage of our brains in order to appeal to what we like to see.  In the classroom we should be doing the same.  The take-aways from Medina’s discussion here are:

1)-Communicate with pictures more than words.

2)-Toss your PowerPoint presentations.  They are text-based and play against the strengths of the brain (page 239).

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