Our brain is a network of neurons that talk to each other – there are neurons over 1 m long in our body – as well as teeny-tiny little ones. They connect and branch out on the needs basis – the unnecessary connections wither away, the necessary ones grow stronger. And bigger. Our course of life is mother nature's co-designer. It gives and it takes. Except for the untouchables buried deep inside our reptile brains - the automation (heartbeat, breathing....) that keeps us going. No one messes with it.
Apart from that, it's "practice makes perfect". The more you do something, the better you get. The more you depend on something, the more you care about it. The more you care about it, the more you nurture it. The more you nurture it, the more it proliferates.
There are sections of our brain dedicated to performing different functions (planning, remembering, recognizing, counting, speaking) – and the obvious learning differences between us are usually written down to the differences between us in this respect; e.g. we may be described as either left- or right-brained, or as having a particular learning style (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic...). Carla's Neuromyths Test bluntly dismisses these as myths and, so like many others, I can't help but feel a little unhappy about it - I've internalised them ages ago!
Sarah Hilyard's enlightening Use it or Lose it nicely breaks the illusion of such oversimplifications:
"Let’s say I’m captivated by a painting in a museum. We would immediately conclude that what I’m doing here is visual. However, I am probably also feeling, thinking – not only creatively but also logically about what I’m seeing -, maybe even hearing sounds that come to me from the image. Therefore, I would not solely be relying on my visual domain."
So true. So, she says, if we teachers...
"…offer a wide range of styles and use diverse teaching tools then we will be reaching all of our students. We can provide visual, auditory and kinaesthetic means simultaneously, we can supply concrete experiences, creative play and active learning opportunities. The best way to do this is in holistic ways using songs, dance, drama and art. By making it memorable and fun, we will grasp our students’ attention and interest, they will become involved and hence, they will learn."Makes me think a bit about children and adults though. Little children are so open, so direct. They jump in with both feet – or shamelessly ignore you if you fail to attract their attention. They say what they think. As adults, on the other hand, we tend surround ourselves with protective walls – think politeness and decency, saving faces, keeping appearances… We tolerate things we hate. And are generally way more hesitant to open up our hearts - doorkeepers of our minds.