Make Learning Experiences Exciting and Real

 

The brain likes to solve problems and an exciting classroom would have a variety of problems to solve.  In order to prepare children to deal with a world that is becoming increasingly more complex, we need to allow for children to solve problems in multiple ways. Experimentation with various materials would allow for this.  For example, math problems can be solved in multiple ways, obviously artistic drawings can be done in multiple ways, storytelling can be done with variations in script, and learning can be shared in a variety of ways with one another.  These are activities which help children to problem solve from multiple perspectives, which will in turn unlock individual gifts and creativity, and train children to apply their creativity to deal effectively with change and crisis.

Encourage Scientific Inquiry

Education should encourage scientific inquiry because scientific inquiry is a natural innate ability in the brain of even the youngest baby.  Scientific inquiry could be considered dependent or independent learning based on the type of study, the numbers of children involved, and curriculum organization.  Scientific forays into the environment are what develop the concepts of object, space, time, and causality in the brain.  Science experiments can help children to develop thinking, reasoning, and decision-making skills.  These skills are developed through the ability of the mind to concentrate on completing tasks with specific steps and procedures which need to be followed –basically, the scientific method.  The focus required to complete a sequence of events with precision develops this ability to focus and concentrate.  That ability in turn later helps a child apply this focus and concentration on more complex learning experiences.  This is why we provide children with step-by-step instructions for some tasks, but not all.  If we allowed for choice in scientific exploration, we might find that our students are not ranking anymore near the bottom of the list of those countries that test children in the knowledge of scientific principles.

Utilize the Multiple Intelligence Theory

The educational model of Multiple Intelligence Theory (Gardner) has given education a big boost in incorporating problem solving strategies into the curriculum.  Gardner identified eight and a half basic types of intelligence: language, mathematics, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, naturalistic, and the half – spiritual (He’s not positive yet there is a spiritual intelligence).[1]   He has shown us how we can teach by utilizing multiple problem-solving strategies using these multiple intelligences, multiple learning styles, and multiple ways of representing knowledge.

Explore with the Laboratory Approach

Another type of exciting learning is called the laboratory approach with field study.  In this case, teacher instruction happens concurrently with an activity out of which the teacher pulls the appropriate subject-matter material.  The teacher takes the children where the action is (children visit courthouse) or brings the action to the children (a courthouse is created in the school).  The learning process occurs as the child interacts with the stimulus of the experience and organizes his own impressions and sensations.  These activities are designed to involve the children directly in hands-on experiences.  Field trips, books, films, slides, filmstrips, tape recordings, bulletin boards, pictures, and other visual aids would be supplemental.  In addition, children can learn how to problem solve by observing how others demonstrate their mastery in the giving of their gifts to their respective community of learners. This might be by tailing community workers on an 8-hour job, or attending planning sessions, or conferences related to their area of interest.  All of this could even be done online with technology, and students would not even need to leave the classroom.

Base the Curriculum on Themes

For older children, the curriculum could be organized around general themes to include a number of subject areas.  Efforts would be made to expose children to areas of learning such as:  anthropology, art, astronomy, biology, chemistry, economics, foreign languages, geology, home economics, health, history, literature, music, physics, sociology, and zoology.  For example, the theme of cycles could be studied by delving into the seasons, weather patterns, temperature, animal migrations, human growth, holidays, ecology, food, or planets, to mention a few areas.  From such a study, the child would learn that cycles are one of the underlying themes of our existence on Earth, affecting us personally and impersonally and overlapping into every area of life.  This type of study favors divergent thinking, problem-solving, and gives choices.  Potentially, the environment in the classroom can actually consist of the entire world through the wonders of modern technology.

Example: The Micro Society Concept

I am reminded of the micro society concept used with middle- school children, where every child has a job within a functioning micro society that mimics the real world. During the half day devoted to this model of educating, teens are constantly solving the problems of finance, marketing, retailing, management, etc. as they play act with storefronts, money, and materials used in the real work-a-day world.  There is choice, freedom of movement, responsibility, and many opportunities to use writing, speaking, mathematical, planning, analysis, and research skills. This type of exposure has relevance to teens and preteens because someday they will be active in the real society.  I think it’s also a great way to teach part to whole and whole to part concepts as well.  This method also parallels the research stating that interest is essential for learning to take place because students choose which role in the micro society they want to take on.

Dr. Celeste Miller (Educating the Reincarnated Child).

[1]Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences.  NY, New York:  Basic Books

Photography by Tom Miller

Cactus flower – Tucson

Six Outcomes of Rapid Direct Instruction With Infants 3 months to 3 Years

Here are six suggested accelerated learning outcomes from using structured direct instruction by showing 1-second per card flashcards or computer images for infants 3 months to 3 years with no more than a total of 15 minutes a day.

1.  Creates a loving bond

This approach to learning is enhanced with emotional well-being; one of its goals is building a loving bond between the parent and the child. It builds on an already established close loving relationship.  Hugs, praise, smiles, cheers, giggles and deep sighs of satisfaction accompany this method.  Contrary to what some have thought, it is not a hothouse approach. Rather it results when there is a close emotional bond between the parent and the child that serves to enable the child to learn more efficiently, to use their imagination in more creative ways and to embrace a learning approach that champions what they can accomplish.  In fact, if a parent pushes a child to learn this way, the loving bond is broken and the method becomes ineffective.

2.  Heightens senses

Relaxation techniques begin the learning session, followed by photographic memory enhancement and input that heightens the senses. These techniques impact the part of the brain that seems to work with tangible facts taken in with the five outer senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell as well as the part of the brain that recognizes the subtle wave frequencies of light, sound, thought, emotion, and magnetism that are not always apparent to the outer senses.

3.  Increases mental creativity
Building strong circuits of neural connections provides a child with additional memory power and integrative functioning potential.   Because imagination is encouraged and strengthened, when children use the right brain pathway, they know no limits.  They can invent, play and create anything their hearts desire. When you open the pathway to the right brain, you access your natural capacity for: photographic memory, speed reading, multiple language acquisition, computer-like math calculation, perfect pitch, intuition, creativity, invention and advanced visualization. The resonating quality of the brain results in an amazing, almost magical intelligence all its own.

4.  Makes learning easy and joyful

Because our unconscious brain is absorbing information from the environment at lightning speed, and our conscious brain is plodding many miles behind, the experience of learning with the unconscious brain is not something we normally think about. We are mostly concerned about the few facts before us.   Yet, the reality is that the unconscious brain has more to do with learning than the conscious brain.  This approach works for any age.

5.  Uncovers genius

Helping our children realize their highest potential, free from our expectations, is the greatest gift we can give back to life.  A newfound sense of self is the goal for any age. Accelerated learning for 0 – 3 year olds embraces the same principles as for any other age, but it is not remedial at this stage. Infants are at the peak of their ability to absorb with their right brain functions.  What can emerge is an ability that was dormant and might have stayed dormant without the outside stimulation.

6.  Continues the work nature has begun

It is now common knowledge that learning results from the stimulation of parts of the brain that seem to activate and integrate the left and right hemispheres to work together harmoniously in ways that increase cognitive power.  Nature gives every infant a head start for the first year of life.  On its very own, the brain organizes millions of synapses into coherent mental patterns that account for acute vision, mobility, speech, etc. 1

Researcher Craig Ramey found that brain power would level off after age one if exposure in the environment didn’t take over and continue to provide the brain with sufficient stimulus to keep it growing and developing to its maximum capability.  He found out that no amount of stimulation later in life ever closes the gap between the trajectory of what might have been with stimulation and what cognition is because of lack of stimulation. 2 That is a directive for early stimulation from a “mainstream” theorist.

Still Not Convinced?

Do you still find yourself wondering about the premise of accelerated learning for babies? Are you thinking, “Aren’t they already so accelerated in their learning that they leave adults in the dust anyway?  Won’t they just develop naturally if things are left to nature to prune and shape the brain?”  People often ask why would you want a toddler to read or multiply in their heads?  The only answer that can be given is why not?  But only if the learning that develops the reading and math skills is completely stress free and fun for the infant.

Consider the way an infant learns language.  All day long he/she hears sounds – millions of combinations of sounds and somehow from this exposure day in and day out, he/she develops the ability to reproduce language correctly.  Showing 15 minutes of images side by side compared with a day spent absorbing sounds in the environment seems like it should be a piece of cake to the infant mind and it is, if it is not forced on the infant.

Lifelong damage and a dislike of all that resembles formal schooling could result if the learning were forced and regimented. This means that for success to occur the adult in the equation must be totally nonattached to the results and this is not easy for some parents and teachers who want their effectiveness to be measured by how well the child is doing, and what they are learning. In the case of learning to speak, as adults, we can’t be attached to the results because we have to trust that our child will speak just like every other child we have encountered, even if they aren’t speaking to us today.  It’s not unlike that with the visual image input as well. Have faith and trust in the incredible brain of an infant.

If a child can read at 3, a whole world of information opens to them.  If they develop perfect pitch they will never lose it.  If they can add in their heads, they will enjoy math class in kindergarten and beyond.  And they will have learned these things when the brain is at the peak of absorption from the environment.

What scientists are learning is that when synapses fire over and over, they leave a myelinated sequence of connections that result in learning.  So by “practicing” — by inputing information to a young child’s brain — you are assisting in the myelination process and increasing learning.  That seems like working with nature not against it.

Conclusion

 Right brain education will not be every one’s cup of tea.  There is a learning curve requiring the shedding of a lot of preconceived ideas about how we teach and learn.  It is not easy to become a right brain educator if you are focused on the goals of learning and not the process. It really helps if you have intuitive abilities developed yourself, are familiar with internal brain wave states, and can relax and calm your mind and approach the child with all the love in your heart.  I have watched parents and teachers working with children using flashcards and other accelerated techniques and it was obvious that not all led with love and respect for the child as their primary motivator, or really understood the underlying reasons for what they were doing.   So, a very important concept I would like to underline is that accelerated learning is maximized when there is a joyful, heartfelt exchange between the adult and the child.

These techniques can be misused.  Do we want to create children who have mental access to a vast compendium of information but do not have a developed moral sense?  From my own meditations on the question “Why use it?” the answer goes beyond the obvious one of developing the right brain abilities.  I believe these abilities tie into the soul senses and create the open door for a higher expression of the frequencies of caring and support between the adult and child in learning environments which will follow the individual into adulthood.

My theory is that as trust and relaxation predominate in learning experiences and the imaging abilities are enhanced as a vital tool, the soul too takes benefit from the right brain/accelerated approach to learning.  Without sounding too much like a romanticist, I believe I can foresee in the far distant future a time when this type of education will become widespread.  And as a result, intuitive states will be heightened in people, meaning that there will be a friendlier, more helpful, happier and contented civilization.  Smarter too.

Dr. Celeste A. Miller

  1. Ramey, C. (2007).  Author’s notes taken at Carolina Abecadarian Project Presentation at the National Invitational Conference of the Early Childhood Research Collaborative held at the University of Minnesota Center for Early Education and Development.
Form and Formless

Form and Formless