Brain science and learning in adolescents is explored by Cherie Connors in a Learning by Design project:
Upload a proxy into every adolescents brain and watch them get wired to learn? Could it really be that easy? Adolescents who are tuned to how their brains are wired, understand why they react/respond like they do will be more able to make choices about learning. Visit my Learning Element developed as part of my online studies within a Masters of Education at the University of Illinois. It provides adolescents with learning opportunities designed to support them in understanding the adolescent brain and how it is wired.
It is still evolving as I continue to read and engage in action research in my classroom into the diverse range of learning styles of adolescents. We already know adolescents lose motivation during their high school years and yet the knowledge society places extreme importance of achieving during this stage of development as a key element in the adolescents future successes. Educational institutions are expected to cram content into their brains to provide them with the best possible outcomes for their future. The same style of adolescent has continued to succeed year in year out. The odd drop out has succeeded in future endeavours spite the learning choices they made during their adolescent years.
It is their choice. My argument is, they only have a choice if they understand how their brain is wired. They only have a choice if their teacher knows how a brain is wired to learn. We need a swing in our profession that leads to the emphasis on learning rather than teaching.
Designing a learning element through LbD is a starting place for teaches to focus on the learning. If they understand the knowledge processes and have deep understanding of the content they need to cover then they could successfully design learning opportunities for students. My question is, do teachers know enough about how people learn to design appropriate learning opportunities? Are teachers up to date on latest studies of the brain and learning?
The above learning element is a designed learning opportunity that has been presented to two groups of year eight students. It has been successful in addressing diversity and providing engaging learning opportunities throughout the entire program. You know when you have got it right when it comes to teaching a program. The whole class is totally engaged, using metalanguage to discuss, sharing understandings, accepting and analysising new ideas and the written work they produce has purpose, depth and includes experiences from their life worlds. The students WANT to know how to present something so they can get their message across, their message about their new learning. When they have become an advocate for their new understandings then they have experienced transformative learning.