This Is Your Brain on Awesome, Part 1

A few weeks back, the folks at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good blog published an article entitled “Nine Things Educators Need to Know About the Brain.” The article is excerpted from Louis Cozolino’s new book, The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom. Cozolino, a professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, wants educators to know these nine recent insights about the brain:

1. The brain is a social organ. “A brain without connection to other brains and without sufficient challenge will shrink and eventually die…Promoting social-emotional learning programs that decrease student conflict and create positive social climates in the classroom are invaluable to learning.”

2. We have two brains. The left and right hemispheres. “Good teachers …will seek to balance the expression of emotion and cognition, encouraging overly rational students to be aware of and explore their feelings while helping anxious students develop the cognitive capabilities of their left hemispheres to regulate their emotions.”

3. Early learning is powerful. “Early experiences shape structures in ways that have a lifelong impact on three of our most vital areas of learning: attachment, emotional regulation, and self-esteem.”

4. Conscious awareness and unconscious processing occur at different speeds, often simultaneously.“The brain is able to process incoming information, analyze it based on a lifetime of experience, and present it to us in half a second… Because of this, it is especially important to teach students to question their assumptions and the possible influences of past experiences and unconscious biases on their feelings and beliefs.”

5. The mind, brain, and body are interwoven.Physical activity exerts a stimulating influence on the entire brain that keeps it functioning at an optimal level… Proper nutrition and adequate sleep are also essential to learning… In addition, learning can be enhanced by certain environmental conditions and hampered by others.”

We’ll explore the other four things in the next installment of the Upper Grades Exchange blog. Please share your thoughts and comments!

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