The brain and learning


Photo by TZA – CC licenced

This weeks topic is the brain. How it works and why we remember things differently based on where we store the information.  I have been hunting the internet to find some articles and web sites on the topic and have found many useful sources.  As I searched the same articles kept surfacing so when I took a further look I saw that a lot of them were written by the same woman, Dr. Judy Willis. Her blog post about the need to Teach Teachers About the Brain I found very enlightening and as I read on I discovered that she has written many books and posts about the matter.  On the ASCD web site, there is a group hosted by her, called How the Brain Learns.  There she has linked to all kind of material written by her and I want to feature one of her articles called WHY A NEUROLOGIST BECAME A CLASSROOM TEACHER.  As a teacher myself I find it very interesting that a professional neurologist should find it interesting to go through teacher education herself to find out what is wrong with the school system and the teachers methods. As the content of this article relates directly to this weeks learning resources about the brains function and memory I found it would be appropriate to mention here.  As it says in the article:

Neuroimaging and new brain-wave technology provide evidence that rote learning is the most quickly forgotten, because the information is not stored in long-term memory. As students lose interest in lecture-and-memorize classes, their attention wanders, and disruptive behaviors are a natural consequence. Even for children who are able to maintain focus on rote teaching, the disruptive responses of their classmates are encroaching more and more on teachers’ instruction time as they try to maintain order (Willis, 2009).

This is the part that I found the most interesting as I have so often witnessed this where the teachers effort goes all into maintaining order and not teaching.  As the teachers complain about how ill-behaved their students are, they should maybe look into their own teaching strategy and see if the problem is with them but not the students.

Human brain

Photo by karmaOWL – CC licenced

Other site I found particular interesting is a site called, Practical Classroom Applications of Current Brain Research.  There I found many good articles related to the brains functionality and teaching. The site is directed by Dr. Kathie Nunley who uses it to connect current psychological and neurological research to the field of education. There are many interesting articles and one that got my attention straight away called How the Adolescent Brain Challenges the Adult Brain. As a teacher of young people aged 16-20 years old I am always curious about why they sometimes behave like they do. Reading this article and the explanation of how the prefrontal cortex in adolescents is not fully developed sometimes till the age of 20 and thats why they act as they sometimes do  was an eye opener for me (Nunley).

Having resources like these available on the internet is priceless for teachers interested in improving performance in the classroom.  Knowing how to act to certain situations, how to deal with that difficult student and understanding what lies behind certain behavior are key elements for successful teaching and Instructional Design.


Nunley, K. F. (n.d.). How the Adolescent Brain Challenges the Adult Brain. Retrieved 11 11, 2012, from Help 4 Teachers:

Willis, J. (2009, 4 2). Radical Teaching. Classroom strategies from a neurologist. . Retrieved 11 11, 2012, from Psychology Today: