The Latest Brain Research and What it Means for Education

Brain research is invaluable.  It gives parents and educators an insight of not only how we learn, but an even greater insight into how the children, whom we are serving, learn.  It is imperative that educators stay informed on the latest findings so they can implement needed changes in their classroom and teaching philosophy.  

The following findings come from the iNACOL paper Cracking the Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-Based Learning.  Mind, Brain, and Education is the first in a nine paper series from JFF called Students at the Center.

The following are a few of the key findings in their research.

Students’ brains continually adapt to the environments where they live and work…

Surroundings matter.  The climate and culture of your school and your individual classroom is paramount in the education of that child.  Therefore, if we provide a safe, caring environment a student’s brain will learn to trust and thrive in that environment.  

Emotions direct students’ learning processes, helping them gravitate toward positive situations and away from negative ones…

Emotions matter.  We are not only teaching the mind, we are teaching the heart.  A student must be emotionally stable for a positive learning outcome to appear.

When students from disadvantaged backgrounds are in high-quality schools, their cortisol levels decrease throughout the day.  The better the school, the more the cortisol levels decrease… 

Schools and Structure matter.  A quality learning environment can help students reach healthy coritsol levels, which lead to better emotional regulation and more favorable learning outcomes.  Disadvantaged students can thrive, they however must be in a quality setting to have that chance to succeed.    

Environments that promote positive relationships and a sense of community promote learning…

Relationships matter.  It makes sense doesn’t it?  If a student has a positive relationship with their teacher, that is more likely to have a positive effect on their education as a whole.  Principals and teachers should focus on building positive relationships with their students.  When positive relationships are coupled with a favorable school culture and climate, the student has the environment and surroundings to thrive.

So what is the big picture?

Physical and emotional wellness matter in education.  The way we foster positive physical and emotional wellness is by building relationships, providing a positive culture and climate, and imparting structure in all that we do.  Physical and emotional wellness has already been a growing trend within education that past decade.  These findings show us the reason for that, and provide us with the evidence that we need to take to heart.  

How is your school, your classroom, your home going to strengthen the physical and emotional wellness of the children you serve?



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