Without biology the learning cycle is theoretical. With biology we see that the brain is actually constructed this way. Teaching is the art of changing the brain. ―James Zull, The Art of Changing the Brain
Engage the Whole Brain Focus on different regions of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain most associated with cognitive functions.
A useful, although greatly simplified, way to view the cerebral cortex is to divide it into four major regions with different functions.
sensory cortex (getting information) integrated cortex near the sensory cortex (making meaning of information) integrative cortex in the front (creating new ideas from these meanings) motor cortex (acting on those ideas) Sensory and Postsensory Temporal Integrative Cortex Frontal Integrative Cortex Premotor and Motor
Back Integrative Cortex Memory of stories Memory of place Understanding language Flashbacks Emotions related to experiences Long-term memory (facts, people, faces, experiences)
Front Integrative Cortex Choice Decisions to act Inhibition Emotions associated with action Responsibility Mental energy Consequences Predicting Creating
Back Integrative Cortex Sensory input to the brain, input from the outside world, goes predominantly to the back half. This part of the cortex is heavily involved in long-term memory— the past. It is the part where connections are made between different past experiences. Much of what is there came from the outside world.
Front Integrative Cortex The front integrative cortex is about the future. It is where we develop ideas and abstract hypotheses. New things appear, and plans are developed here. It is where we organize our thoughts into bigger pictures that seem to make sense. Things are weighed here; it is where we decide to do or not to do something. It is where we take charge.
The balanced use of front and back cortex will produce better learning. However, we tend toward pedagogical approaches that stress one over the other.
The traditional didactic approach (delivering information) tends to focus on back cortex functions.
The discovery approach (proposing and testing ideas) tends to focus on front cortex functions.
Passive Students Use predominantly the back half of their cortex. Very few of the prefrontal functions show up in these students. Example — Hamilton (From the book: The Art Of Changing The Brain, by James E. Zull. Stylus Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1-57922-054-1)
“Experience Poor” Students The scales are tipped heavily toward generation of ideas and actions, but there is not enough experiential data to work with and no time spent in reflection. Example — Michelle (From the book: The Art Of Changing The Brain, by James E. Zull. Stylus Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1-57922-054-1)
Both Michelle and Ham need more balanced development between the back and the front of their cortex, between temporal cortex and prefrontal cortex. Back Cortex Front Cortex
Some of the most obvious wiring in the brain is designed exactly for this front/back connection.
Numbers two, three, and four directly connect temporal integrative cortex with prefrontal cortex.
The signals travel in both directions. They allow the receiving brain to communicate back and forth with the idea brain.
This bridge between front cortex and back cortex is where transformation of the learner from a receiver to a producer of knowledge takes place.
Our structure for learning should have a well-proportioned foundation. There should be balance between receiving knowledge and using knowledge. If this is achieved, then our foundation can do more than just support. It can be an integrated part of the larger structure. —James E. Zull
Let the youth advance as fast and as far as they can in the acquisition of knowledge.…And as they learn, let them impart their knowledge. It is thus that their minds will acquire discipline and power. It is the use they make of knowledge that determines the value of their education. To spend a long time in study, with no effort to impart what is gained, often proves a hindrance rather than a help to real development. —MH, 402
If teachers provide experiences and assignments that engage all four areas of the cortex, they can expect deeper learning than if they engage fewer regions. —James E. Zull
Sensory and Postsensory Temporal Integrative Cortex Frontal Integrative Cortex Premotor and Motor Active Testing Reflective Observation Back Cortex Sensory and Postsensory Temporal Integrative Cortex Frontal Integrative Cortex Premotor and Motor Front Cortex Reflective Observation Concrete Experience Abstract Hypotheses
ACTIVITY 1. Individually, answer the following two questions: a. What are the key findings of the brain research? b. What are the implications for educational practice? 2. Join with two other persons and consolidate your answers. 3. Join with another trio and again consolidate your answers. 4. When you have agreed upon the major findings and implications, write them on the chart paper. Select a spokesperson to clarify your list if necessary.