Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Let’s Keep Positive Practical Learning Front of Mind in 2016!

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Happy 2016! I look forward to engaging with educators throughout the year at conferences, seminars, and other events.

For my first post of the new year, I'd like to stress something that every educator should keep front of mind for 2016: the now-proven principle that virtually every human brain has the potential to learn and change throughout the lifespan. In fact, researchers are reporting that learning actually changes the structure and function of your brain.

Whether you are traveling to exciting new destinations in 2016, learning new teaching strategies, reading a book, playing a new game, or stretching your mind in a new job, YOU are a learning machine.

In the past, it was thought that brain development stopped sometime during our youth. At one time, it was said to be the age of 12. In the last several decades (with an emphasis on early childhood), there has even been confusion leading the uninformed to say that important development ceases even earlier. However, it is now known that adults can  create new brain cells and make connections across their entire lifespans. So, it is critically important to keep learning.

Marcus and I delve into these subjects in depth in our books, Positively Smarter: Science and Strategies for Increasing Happiness, Achievement and Well-being and Smarter Teacher Leadership: Neuroscience and the Power of Purposeful Collaboration. We hope you will have the opportunity to read, in these books and elsewhere, the fascinating findings that are occurring in the fields of learning science, teaching, psychology, and educational neuroscience as related to school and life.

For now, I will leave you with a few practical tips for your exciting journey of learning, and over time we will go a bit more in-depth on each of the topics below:
  • Learn something new. For example, explore new professional skills, new study skills, a new language, or new strategies for becoming an even better parent. New hobbies like paddle boarding, running, crafting, or mediation also grow your mind/brain system.
  • When you can choose, surround yourself with people who have a positive orientation about learning and are curious. 
  • Generally speaking prepare your mind and brain for learning with ...
  1. nutritious foods including protein, veggies and fruits, and fiber (calcium for bones, etc.)
  2. exercise
  3. sleep (7-9 hours for most), and
  4. water (6-8 glasses)
I look forward to writing more about the exciting research coming to the fore. In the meantime, I wish you joyful and happy learning this new year!

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