Learning and the Brain


What is “best practice” in teaching these days?  Is it something that one can pinpoint or is it a moving target–something educators (or doctors, or psychologists) are always having to chase?  When I ask my colleagues:  “What is best practice?”  I never receive the same answer.

Is understanding the brain and its biology part of best practice for teaching?  Yo’ darn right it is!  But, how come no one talks about it?  Is it too cutting edge, too elusive, too hard to pinpoint?  It is efficient for me to sit in staff meetings learning how to meet the needs of language learners when I think I really should be learning how mirror neurons aid in learning language?

Isn’t it fascinating to understand why memory + emotion = efficient learning?  You betcha!  Shouldn’t I be engaged in the processes of procedural learning v. working memory to enhance my teaching to enhance learning?  Si señoritas!   Why, as educators, are we not more focused on learning the basics of the brain It is the most important organ we teach to, and yet we are lucky to learn the basic names and functions of the lobes.  If you know the function of the hippocampus and you are an educator—you are thousands of dendrite connections ahead of most!  I won’t even go into the importance of adding Norepinephrine into cementing experiences into learning…that will be another post!  (okay I lied—norepinephrine is the Wow this is fun! neurotransmitter—-it helps the brain focus, and attention is paramount for learning! I know cool right?!)

I hope in the near future, teacher training comes with mandatory classes Brain Biology 101 & Brain Neurology 102.


3 Responses to “Learning and the Brain”

  1. Susi, Susi, Susi…. Girl, have I missed your posts!!! I’ve been as busy as one can be and I’m guilty as charged for not having paid a visit to one of my favourite blogs lately. Shame on me!!!

    I now kept wondering, though, how hard it’d be to become a teacher on the salary that people are paying these days. I mean, it’d be no problem at all for those who are really passionate about what they do, but I’m not sure how many “teachers” out there actually care that much. To be honest, I sometimes think that even the people who look for language classes are more concerned about the diploma they will get at the end of the course than with the actual learning that should be taking place. You know what, I’d love to have the chance to spend an afternoon learning all this stuff from you and sharing ideas… Oh, and I’ll definitely come back and read all posts I’ve failed to read thus far.

    I was going to say that it was good to have you back, but I’ll actually tell myself that it’s good to be back to your blog! Sorry I’ve been away so long!

    Hugs from Brazil!

    • Hi Henrick! Thanks for your kind words…I am glad that I have ONE person out in the world who likes my sharing, makes it worth it. The net allows us to pop in and pop out at our leisure, ain’t no shame in that. Like life, sometimes we participate, and sometimes we watch; we can’t do it all, or we might spontaneously combust with information overload.

      When you get a chance, here is an oldie but goodie article about second language and the brain….enjoy!


  2. Hi Susi,

    I’m sure many would benefit from your sharings. To be honest, I’d love to be able to invite you one day for a Braz-TESOL seminar. As usual with these events, we’d just need to find a sponsor, but that’s definitely on my mind.

    Thanks you for the article! I’ll definitely have a look at it when I have the chance to do so.



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