August is National Back to School Month. After the summer holidays, it's hard to get back into the learning frame of mind. Jump right into things by dissecting the strongest organ we have for learning—the brain. Get students into the spirit of learning by delving into how the brain works.
How do we learn new skills? What makes us able to remember? How are we able to recall past memories? Science has begun to explain how the brain works. But many things still remain a mystery.
Here are a few of the breakthroughs we know about our brain, and some suggestions to help you learn better.
1. More information does not mean more learning. It's better to break things down into chunks. Focus on one part at a time. Your brain cannot learn all things at once.
2. The brain is an always changing organ. Your brain isn't static. It grows and changes throughout your life.
3. Your mood affects how you learn. Negative moods can shut off parts of the brain. This makes it difficult to learn.
4. To learn, it is important to make mistakes. Let go of the error and build a new path in the mind. This helps it to grow and solve larger problems.
5. The brain needs new things and change. Repetition is good. But too much and the brain gets stuck. It's time to switch things up.
6. There are no learning styles. While you might prefer one style of learning. This doesn't mean you can't learn in other ways.
7. Brains work on the “use it or lose it” principle. Your brain must always be active. Practice what you are learning. Even outside of school.
8. Learning is social. Sharing what you know in a group setting can help make new connections.
9. Using the skills we are born with makes learning easier. Seeing and hearing patterns happens from infancy. Being able to learn language does too. Combining the two could make things easier to learn.
10. Learning can change brain structure. Learning new skills, doing activities or both at once. This grows new cells and can actually change the structure of the brain.
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