What we call “mechanical” solutions (such as memory tricks, revision aids, exam techniques, etc) can work. But the real challenge is how to address the “motivational” aspect of learning too.
How do you change the mindset of the learner so that s/he actually wants to become a better learner? Because that’s what’s going to make a real difference to their (and the school’s) performance!
We are finding that some brain science can help students. Learners experience a liberating effect when they discover that learning is simply about making electro-chemical connections between their 100 billion brain cells, or that repetition is actually helping to strengthen the myelin sheath around the axon, or that making their learning ‘active’ helps their brain remember it more easily. Self esteem is also a crucial ingredient. But is all this enough? We don’t think so.
We make a grand claim: that we bring together for you and your students the best of recent research from across the globe in the fields of neuro-science (avoiding the common neuro-myths), cognitive psychology and pedagogy. So, for example, we promote ‘spaced learning’, based on the findings of the German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus and his forgetting curve.
Carol Dweck in her 2006 book, “Growth Mindset: the new Psychology of Success” showed how levels of motivation rocketed when learners were introduced to the growth mindset. This is what we do.
And it generates this sort of response from students in Years 7 to 13:
“I never knew my brain was like a muscle and could get fitter – like my body.”
“Fantastic – I now know how to grow my brain – amazing!”
“Why did nobody tell me before that my brain gets better with use?”
These and other equally astounding responses have started to be commonplace at the end of our Study Skills Zone programmes.
If you’re still not sure, why not ask us for some of our free Digests or Briefings in which we explain more about the growth mindset and how it differs from the much more common “fixed mindset”?
In summary, our aim is to help students develop a growth mindset so that they think of their intelligence as something they can develop through study and learning rather than as something fixed. This new mindset increases their sense of self-efficacy and motivation to learn. We approach this by teaching students how the brain functions, learns and remembers, and how it changes in a physical way when we exercise it. In addition, our programme provides a practical set of skills for tackling academic challenges by showing students how to apply this knowledge to their schoolwork. Best of all – they actually enjoy our workshops!
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