The traditional model of “School” was created to support the Industrial Age, pushing out workers into an economy that valued monotony and the algorithmic routines of assembly lines. Students learned the same thing, at the same time, and developed the same skills necessary for the type of work environment most would enter after graduation. Current brain research reveals 4 important truths that have been missed in the past. This understanding of the brain supports the current economy which places value on skills such as critical thinking, creativity, global connections, and heuristic means to create novel ideas.
|#1 Intelligence is Variable
We think, learn, and create in different ways. Intelligence is multifaceted and students need a range of opportunities to discover varied intelligences.
Intelligence is developed and demonstrated in one way. There is only one right answer and one way to demonstrate understanding.
|#2 The brain is Malleable
Intelligence can continue to grow and be strengthened. Intelligence is NOT fixed, the capacity to continue to learn is immeasurable. Provide students with varied and rich learning experiences to strengthen multiple intelligences.
|The brain is
Intelligence is fixed and determined at birth. Only the earliest years in a child’s life are important for brain strength and growth. Educators can not fill the gaps from home.
|#3 The brain hungers for Meaning
Learners seek to make sense of information and recognize patterns, connections to prior knowledge and experiences and organize their learning around larger concepts.
|The brain recalls
Learners retain information best when imposed upon them. Teaching students important test-taking vocabulary and information in isolation ensures understanding.
|#4 We learn best with moderate Challenge
Learners retreat to self-protection mode if faced with too tough of a challenge or have been allowed to continually fail. If the task is too easy, motivation and interest wane. A task that is challenging for one learner may not be for another, therefore differentiating tasks is key.
|We learn best through
Learners who succeed will continue to learn and push themselves. Tasks should be designed so all students experience immediate success. Any difficulty in learning is met with resistance and the learner gives up.
(Information in part via Tomlinson)
As educators, this information helps to inform practice and remove outdated bias we hold on students, learning, and intelligence. With the understanding that the brain is malleable and intelligence is variable, differentiation in the classroom and rich learning experiences support all students. Tasks and units can be designed to support inquiry, provide choice, and are tied to conceptual thinking. Students grow and strengthen intelligence in multiple areas and leave our care with the ability to think, learn, and create differently.
- Carol Ann Tomlinson
- Howard Gardner
- Carol Dweck