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Is The Wyche Curriculum Brain Compatible? 6 th September 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Is The Wyche Curriculum Brain Compatible? 6 th September 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Is The Wyche Curriculum Brain Compatible? 6 th September 2011

2 Contents 1.The Triune Brain 2.Templates 3.The Synaptic Gap 4.Myelin and Deep Practice 5.Nature or Nurture 6.The Outliers Principle 7.Glutamate and Dopamine 8.The Role of Emotions in Learning

3 Brain Knowledge 95% of what we now know about the brain has been found out in the past 10 years

4 The Brain has three parts Dr P D MacLean (1990) The triune Brain

5 Mexican Green Lizard The Mexican Green Lizard has 27 different behaviours and is believed to be one of the most highly evolved animals These hinge around the principles of survival

6 The Survival Principle The brain is designed for survival not for academic study Where survival and study coalesce then learning will be enhanced Reticular Activation System – cuts out when we cannot see the point The power of “Real Life Learning” – How do we motivate a child on a wet Friday afternoon

7 Limbic Brain The Limbic Brain deals with survival in a social context

8 Neo Cortex The neo-cortex (Lit. “New Brain”) or the neo- mammalian brain

9 The Brain has three parts Dr P D MacLean (1990) The triune Brain

10 Brain Cells 1.The Reptilian Brain: 2,000,000 cells 2.The Limbic Brain:20,000,000 cells 3.The Neo Cortex:150 billion cells

11 How does the brain function? How does the brain pull together 150 billion cells and allow the right ones to make the right decision? Templates

12 The Use of Templates Donald Hebb was the first to explore the brain and its use of templates He stated that we learn because nerve endings fire together Nerve cells that fire together wire together

13 Templates Templates are wired learnt experiences They are laid down through experience –Playing the guitar – Subconsciously. –Table tennis – Getting shots back –Tennis – Time to play shots –Driving the car – How did I get here

14 Template Building In the neo cortex is the Dorso-Lateral Pre Frontal cortex This uploads the templates from all over the brain so the information arrives synchronously and in harmonic resonance allowing the brain to process the information


16 The Hippocampus The hippocampus adds information from the short term memory

17 The use of Templates The brain does not compartmentalise info This is why didactic 2D teaching is flawed The capital of France is Paris There is not a capital cities compartment The multiple firing of the brain “In one ear and out the other”

18 Thunks Which is the happiest colour? Which is the biggest colour? Is black a colour? Is White? Thunks – Ian Gilbert

19 Chess Templates De Groot (Dutch psychologist) challenged the notion that chess players have photographic memories He set up a chess board and gave chess players and non-chess players 5 seconds to scan the board and replicate it. Many of the top players scored 100%

20 Chess Templates He then repeated it with random pieces there was no difference in the scores between the chess and non-chess players. The Chess Template

21 Quick Chess in Bristol

22 Templates are complex The templates are complex The child bitten by a dog But not all dogs bite What do I look for in a dog when I meet it? –Posture –Facial expression –How it is moving towards me? –Is my mum near me? –Is she frightened?

23 No template, No learning “Everything in your brain is stored in the form of templates” (A Curran) Slowly the boy looked nonchalantly across the busy, crowded street –All teaching must be context based so that the templates are built correctly –The brain is not a jigsaw puzzle that puts bits together out of context

24 No template, No learning Action could be spelt… –AktionThe “tion” is a template –Akshun The shun is possible –Akjvtpp There is no possibility of this These are templates not recognising a series of unrelated letters

25 Emotional Triggers A smell, a picture, a dream can trigger memories because they activate these templates Emotions are a powerful trigger for templates Learning must have an emotional attachment for the child

26 Synaptic Gap Templates are fused together by the connection of nerves which form a synapse together The two synapses don’t touch but form the “Synaptic gap”

27 The Synaptic Gap The synaptic gap is the place where two synapse meet (without touching) and chemicals are fired across

28 The Synaptic Gap The synapse is at the end of the axon and sends out signals The dendrite receives the signal




32 Myelin Sheath Myelin is a dielectric (electrically insulating) material that forms a layer, the myelin sheath, usually around only the axon of a neuron. The production of the myelin sheath is called myelination.


34 Myelination Myelination begins in the fourteenth week of foetal development During infancy myelination occurs quickly and continues through the adolescent stages of life All learning involves the firing of nerve cells and the laying down of templates

35 Myelin “Myelin’s vital role is to wrap the nerve fibres the same way that rubber insulation wraps a copper wire making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out” Daniel Coyle p5

36 In the Right Way “When we fire our circuits in the right way our myelin responds by wrapping layers of insulation around that neural circuit, each layer adding a bit more skill and speed” Daniel Coyle p5

37 “… in the right way” Coyle defines “Deep Practice” as the practice of areas that create myelin in the right way Practicing a poor golf swing will develop a strong template for a poor golf swing

38 Deep Practice of… Poor spelling from a child is e.g. “wos” is mylienated if allowed to continue unchecked throughout a piece of writing Letter reversals The feedback loop is the key

39 Is talent nurture or nature? Is talent a symptom of nature or can it be nurtured?

40 Anders Ercisson Anders Ericsson, a psychologist at Florida State University undertook a seminal study in outstanding performance in 1991 He studied violinists at the Musical Academy in West Berlin

41 The Three Groups They were placed into three groups: –Exceptional, those who would be world soloists –Very Good, those who would play in the world’s top orchestras but not as soloists –Good, those who would become music teachers Anders then looked for the key ingredient that made the difference

42 Deep Practice Their profiles were virtually identical except in the area of … Practice By the age of 20 The Exceptional had spent 10,000 hours The Very Good had spent 8,000 hours The Good had spent 4,000 hours

43 Deep Practice David Beckham/Johnny Wilkinson – Both known for the additional practice they put in after each training session

44 “The more I practice the luckier I get” (Gary Player, Golfer)

45 Chess Prodigies Laszlo Polgar was a Hungarian psychologist who believed talent could be created He advertised for a wife to conduct an experiment on creating talent They had a daughter Susan and decided to make her a grand master

46 Chess Prodigies They gave up their jobs ands home schooled the children teaching them mainly chess They had a library of 10,000 chess books At the age of 21 Susan became the first woman to be named a grand master Her sister Judit became a grand master at the age of 15, the youngest of either sex, and remains the world’s number 1 at present

47 There have of course been others… The William’s sisters – Venus being named after the Wimbledon trophy Tiger Woods

48 Matthew Syed Matthew Syed was three times commonwealth champion His parents dispute his whole thesis which rests on talent being nurture not nature

49 Hall of Fame In his road lived: Karen Witt – Commonwealth champion Andy Wellman – Top UK doubles player Around the corner lived Jimmy Stokes – English Junior Champion Paul Savins – Junior international Alison Gordon – English Senior Champion Sue Collier – English Schools Champion etc. etc. etc.

50 Bounce “For a period on the 1980’s, this one street, and the surrounding vicinity produced more outstanding table tennis players than the rest of the nation combined” Bounce p7 He outlines the key factors

51 Intelligence Fixed or Growth This counteracts the perceived wisdom that intelligence is innate and fixed Binet’s IQ test based on this principle Modern research points to the error of this and looks at …

52 Brain Plasticity Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to create templates at will and to develop deep and rigorous myelination of the myelin sheath. It dovetails perfectly into Carol Dweck’s work

53 The Outliers Principle Not especially related to brain neurology but… The principle of Outliers – The story of Success

54 Ice Hockey Dates In the mid 1980’s Roger Barnsley, a Canadian psychologist spotted an interesting “coincidence” at an Ice Hockey game He observed a disproportionate amount of the players were born in the first few months of the year Coincidence or…

55 Ice Hockey Dates The cut off date for all age based hockey in January Children born in January are a year older than their peers in Junior hockey

56 Baseball Dates In baseball the cut off date is 31 st July In the major league in the US there are 505 players born in August but only 313 born in July

57 Football Dates In the Premier league in England where the cut off date is September At one point in the 1990’s there were: –288 players born between September and November –136 born between June and August

58 Tim Played for the county at school Looked at by all the premiership team scouts in the West Midlands Plays at semi-professional level Trains at Cannington (Man United’s training ground) plays for university team Trained last year with Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville Date of Birth… ???


60 Cut off dates and school Relevance to school? We have a cut off period of September Our registers reflect intelligence – to a certain extent Orange class a few years ago Just need to be mindful of this impact and our expectation of younger children

61 States for Learning The brain’s resting state is 18Hz (18 cycles per second) The Gamma Rate is the rate needed to fire the nerve cells. This is anywhere between 20-500Hz and of course they must fire in harmony

62 Glutamate A chemical called glutamate fires the cells It travels across the synaptic gap and connects to the receptor on the striatal nerve cell It simply excites the brain through a process of De-Polarisation Without constraint it would kill you!

63 Dopamine Dopamine controls glutamate output It is the chemical which ceases to be available in those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease as the substatia nigra compacta atrophies


65 Dopamine Dopamine is a synapto-genic chemical (synapto–synapse/genic–make or create) So dopamine is the chemical that releases glutamate into the brain But… it also controls the levels of it within the brain

66 Dopamine firing path through the brain

67 Firing Times The usual firing time for a striatal nerve cell is a couple of milli-seconds, but dopamine allows the cell to keep firing over a period of time

68 Dopamine 1.Leaks out from synapse and binds to the striatal nerve cell binding to the cortical side of the synapse thereby preventing further glutamate release 2.It binds dopamine receptors onto the striatal nerve cell which in turn provides a regulator for glutamate, triggering activation of the proteins in the cell and sustaining the brain activity process

69 Emotional Learning “All this is predominantly under the control of the emotional limbic brain. Your emotional self is centrally involved the vast majority of the things you learn.” Andrew Curran p66

70 Dopamine Release “Dopamine release is predominantly under the control of your emotional/limbic brain. You must have dopamine release in your brain to learn anything. Learning is therefore largely directed and controlled by your emotional/limbic brain… Andrew Curran p61

71 Emotional Learning … This is of central importance to understanding learning in any situation if you have made good emotional connection with the person who is trying to learn from you (or from whom you are trying to learn) you have dramatically increased the chance of them learning that thing from you” Andrew Curran p61

72 Emotional Learning “It also means that events that have a large emotional content may be learned more effectively i.e. the synaptic strength of such connections may be high” Andrew Curran p62

73 Yesterday’s Quote “All learning is emotionally driven” Di Pardoe 5 th September 2011

74 Engaging the Brain Engagement in learning is the key and triggers whole brain activity The Offside Rule – Helen said she could feel her brain switching off (Reticular activating system)

75 Limbic Monitoring Engagement especially emotional – “I am excited by this” engenders whole brain learning The glutamte fires in the corpus striatum but to grow a template you need dopamine The limbic brain monitors the process through the emotional engagement and releases the correct amount of dopamine at the right time

76 Limbic Monitoring It is easy to produce glutamate but the production of dopamine at the right time and in the right places is complex and emotionally controlled

77 Dopamine Release A key component of dopamine release is stress However stress comes in a flood rather than being targeted Of course overtime stress can close down production completely

78 Dopamine Release Stress also produces adrenaline and nor adrenaline which burns deep into the brain with too much stress Post traumatic stress disorder Steroids used to control this but does do damage to the hippocampus

79 Stress and Learning Stress is a part of learning Not stress that pushes us over the edge releasing adrenaline and nor adrenaline but that element that challenges and pushes children to the edge

80 Talking Partners The use of talking partners switches the culture of the classroom from teacher driven to child But… also raises the stress levels in children Responding to stress: Bernice and I at the Teaching and Learning Conference – Boy’s Underachievement

81 Correct Dopamine Production The brain is a survival tool (Reptilian) and an emotional survival tool (Limbic) The two key triggers for correct dopamine production are –Reward –Anticipation of Reward An emotional response to learning

82 The Concept of Reward The concept of reward is a key feature of the brain and relates back to its use as a survival tool

83 Rewards What do we say after football training – We have earned this beer What do we do after dieting? – We have a piece of chocolate as a reward The brain functions on rewards and we play mind games with ourselves in this area

84 Deferred Rewards The marshmallow experiment was conducted in 1972 by psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University. It has been "regarded as one of the most successful behavioural experiments". In the study, a marshmallow was offered to each child. If the child could resist eating the marshmallow, he was promised two instead of one.

85 Deferred Rewards The scientists noted that of the 600 children 300 opted for two marshmallows later. Those who waited were found to be “more emotionally competent” in later life, scored higher in SAT tests and achieved better in adult life Why? “Deferred Gratification” – The process of training the brain for rewards

86 Emotional not Formulaic This is not stickers and charts and the practicalities Shirley Clarke – work for the sticker not for the work There has to be emotional contact between teacher and child

87 Emotional Connection Brian May and his father A sticker would not have sufficed Relationships are key –Does the child like you? –Do they value your opinion of them? –Are you a significant other for them?

88 Learning is Foundationally Emotional The key is what we do away from the learning environment Everything we do around the child away from the blackboard The car race around the classroom – Trinity, Frome

89 Andrew Curran’s Summary The pattern is… Understand Me Self Esteem Self Confidence Emotionally Engaged Andrew Curran


91 The amygdala (Almond) is the area of the brain responsible for “Emotional Intelligence” (EQ) according to Daniel Goleman’s work

92 The Amygdala The amygdala is responsible for the fight of flight response in humans But also has the ability to enhance memory storage The amygdala is linked to both the hippocampus and the Corpus Striatum

93 Memory The Hippocampus deals with conscious memories The Corpus Striatum deals with sub- conscious memories But… The amygdala is the memory facilitator, and is emotionally rich and is activated with emotion

94 Emotional Well Being Tonically Active Neurons are cells deep within the Corpus Striatum and are directly controlled by the amygdala and the limbic brain Therefore… emotional well being is a pre- cursor to any form of effective learning

95 Tell us something we didn’t know “What has fascinated me most … is that working through the tens of millions of dollars of research, the message it has communicated most clearly to me is one that any wise woman in any village could have told you at any time in the last 10,000 years” Andrew Curran p81

96 Emotional Learning is the only learning “Selfless love is based on understanding the human in front of you. This will improve self esteem and self confidence. In this environment they will feel emotionally engaged with you and neurochemically they will have no option but to learn from you” Andrew Curran p83-4

97 The Concept of Reward Rewards need to be intrinsic not extrinsic Research shows that extrinsic rewards work against creativity Rewards focus the mind and therefore are excellent for linear tasks But… for 21 st Century creativity rewards can hinder lateral thought

98 The issue of “Functional Fixedness”

99 Sam Glucksberg, Psychology Professor at Princeton University, used The Candle Problem to measure the power of incentives.

100 The Candle Problem He gave two groups of people the problem. The first group was told that they would be timed and the second group was told that if they solved the problem the fastest, they would be rewarded monetarily.

101 The Reward When the tacks were taken out of the box the group offered a reward got to the solution faster

102 The Reward With the tacks in the box (i.e. the solution needs creativity) the incentivised group took 3½ minutes longer



105 Research commissioned by the federal reserve bank

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