Schools taught us to learn not HOW to learn

 In Development

By Lina Abou Chaaban
Independent coach – Dubai, UAE

I thought this sentence was very powerful when I heard it from Jim Kwik, the man behind the Super Brain. I would love us to pause for a minute and think about this sentence before tonight’s homework time. Getting homework done at most homes is a stressful time where mom and child are both frustrated, and someone leaves the table angry, sad or labeled.

Sadly, a lot of the schools do not teach us how to learn, how to encode and retrieve information; they rather teach us learning as a spectator sport where one needs to sit for an hour each lesson and just listen and observe. They also teach students to remember through repetition whether a topic makes sense to them or not, repeat until you memorize; which normally takes hours until the brain registers the information. Children come back home after a long day and are expected to sit again and go through the pile of homework. Of course being tired, they can’t concentrate and labeling starts whether we say it out loud or think it “you’re not trying your best” “look at your brother” “try harder” etc….

How can we expect a child to learn when he lacks the tools to do so? It’s not about learning it’s about how we learn. For starters, let’s believe our children when they say “I can’t concentrate anymore, I need a mind break.” An adult’s attention span is 30 to 45min while a 6-year-old child is anywhere between 12 to 30min. So when he starts moving around or complaining it’s his brain screaming “HELP! I need a mind break.” Let’s be facilitators and introduce healthy mind breaks that can fire the neurons in the brain, get the left brain and right brain to work together again. For example, introduce super brain yoga, which opens up your brain and makes it more receptive, hence increasing sharpness and creativity. Not a fan of yoga? What about juggling? An oxford study shows that juggling helps make your brain more focused, sharp and increases your concentration. It was also proven that learning to juggle accelerates the growth of neural connections related to memory, focus, movement, and vision. So next time your child asks for a break throw a tennis ball or two and start juggling.

As for studying and remembering information, the rote memory technique is truly not time efficient, remembering with repetition takes hours. We are visual people – our brain is wired to remember with images. “The research outcomes on visual learning makes complete sense when you consider that our brain is mainly an image processor not a word processor. In fact, the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images.” There are countless studies that have confirmed the power of visual imagery in learning. For instance, one study asked students to remember many groups of three words each, such as dog, bike, and street. Students who tried to remember the words by repeating them over and over again did poorly on recall. In comparison, students who made the effort to make visual associations with the three words, such as imagining a dog riding a bike down the street, had significantly better recall.” Help your children make visual connections that are crazy, emotional, illogical and outstanding. The crazier the visual connection the more wired the brain is to remember it. Don’t believe me? Check out this post by the Super Brain himself Jim Kwik

Let’s make learning fun and equip our children with the tools they need so they learn HOW to learn.




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