The Perfect Study Technique: Mapping the Mind

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MAPPING the MIND: The Perfect Study Technique

This is an exciting time to be a learner and an educator. Medical and scientific researchers have joined forces with education to give us a much more comprehensive understanding of the mind and how best to help our young people reach their full potential as learners. Medical/scientific researchers are telling us that the brain is capable of taking in much more information than we currently ask of it.

One of the ways we can begin to tap those unused areas of our potential is to apply the visual, symbolic technique of mind maps to our everyday teaching environment. Mind mapping is one technique that encourages the utilization of the brains full potential. It is a whole brain activity that results in the graphic representation of the intellectual territory covered. It is a process and thus is not content driven, allowing it to be applied to any content area, at any grade level. A map is extremely versatile and can be adapted to any length and type of material. Students can map vocabulary words, a novel or an entire course. Instead of just words on the page the mapper must also interact with symbols, color and shape to represent meaning. The material being mapped and the individual mind dictate the finished product. Because a mind map represents the interaction between the individual and the course content the learning becomes personally relevant as the student begins to reorganize and apply their own symbolic cues to the material. Maps are comprehensive, creative, fun and imaginative.

Mapping is not only creative and fun but it maximizes student participation as one cannot map without being actively involved in the process of divergent thinking. It helps to link ideas and draw relationships between sometimes seemingly unrelated pieces of information. This encourages depth of understanding and critical thinking.

Often students become so involved with the facts and details of the material they are unable to see the whole picture. For older students a map could be used to synthesize a multitude of material into one very concise study. They could incorporate their notes, textbook material, lectures, handouts, and video or documentary material, into one map, thus making the connections between material much easier to detect. When students see the subject on one big map, connections between systems become much more easily identified and the depth necessary to apply terms suddenly appears.

Maps are not used as extensively as they could be with older students. I recall a mother of one of my students arriving for our parent conference with a tactful concern about the time her daughter was spending in her room using color and visual to represent her Grade 12 math notes. The mom, was a bit concerned that her daughter was spending so much time on the ‘art’ that she might be missing the math. I assured her that her daughter, a very diligent student, would be just fine and that I was checking to make certain the content was covered. The mom trusted and the student sailed through her final exam in a class she had always had difficulty with. Researchers have noticed“…it is apparent that visual-spatial modes of thought need far more attention in the educational process, especially at a higher level. While visual approaches have received greater attention at lower grade levels for some time, higher education is slow to change and still relies heavily on traditional academic methods-books and lectures.” ( West p10) Often we do not encourage our students to use all their gifts to learn curricular material.

Maps can be used with students at any age. There were very few students who did not experience immediate benefits from learning to use the mind mapping process. Students of all ages love the creative and visual aspects of mapping but they also come to realize very quickly how much work and thought must go into the process. They realize the amount of material they have mastered (or need to master) when they have a visual representation of it.

The benefits of mapping to the student, I think are obvious, however, one very important benefit to the teacher or parent is often overlooked. Maps are an invaluable assessment tool as they often point out, instantaneously, where the process of understanding breaks down. You have a visual representation of the students understanding of the topic and can often trace back to where understanding becomes muddled or confused. This form of assessment is quick and very accurate. It tells you immediately what you have to revisit or where students have moved to greater depth of understanding.

There are innumerable ways to create a mind map and a number of theorists to aid your search for the perfect mind mapping method. Tony Buzan pioneered the concept of mind mapping many years ago and his books are still absolutely current and a must if you wish to read on. The other person who has just recently created a ‘how to’ manual for mapping is Nancy Margulies. Her book is excellent and is perfect for any age but I have found elementary school educators particularly taken with her book. Margulies also produces a comic book probably most applicable to junior high students but staff also find it informative. (see resource section) There are several differences between Buzan and Margulies but both advocate using a whole brain approach to mapping. Buzan sets a structured format, that he suggests be followed in every map and Margulies suggests much more freedom when choosing the structure of the map.

Mind Mapping Tony Buzan                 Mind Scape Nancy Margulies

*central concept                                            *free form
*main ideas                                                    *anything goes
*add details                                                             words, phrases
symbols
*center of page                                              *start anywhere
*one word per line central theme
*branch out grouping or categories
add more details

I have always found a combination of both styles to be preferable. Let the mind of the mapper and the material dictate what form the map should take. The following elements should be included, in any form, depending on the creativity and background of the individual mapper ( see above map for a visual representation of the article) .

To create a map:
* Have a central theme.
* Use a balance of symbols and words‘whole brain approach’
* Color should be used to give a message,to illustrate relationship or indicate a pattern or section.
* The original material must be regrouped
* Personal symbols help connect to prior knowledge.

When working with older students show them sample maps and let them develop their own distinct style but with younger students it is helpful to do some practice with words to symbols and grouping techniques first. Guide all students through a group map first, model your own style and share several of your own maps. Be certain to stress that your style is neither right nor wrong but is just an expression of your personal interaction with the material. Explain what your symbols and colors represent. Show a number of maps on one topic. This will demonstrate to students that maps are distinctively unique and very personal.  The following maps were done by staff or students for various different subjects or workshops…….A map represents the mappers relationship to the material………

 

MEMORY

Memory

When asked about memory students will usually answer they have a good memory or a bad memory. When their parents or teachers are asked about the student’s memory they will invariably describe a good memory or a poor memory again, leaving it at that. To then pursue the discussion rarely takes us any deeper into what we actually understand memory to be. Memory, good or bad, is often attributed or blamed for an astounding array of qualities and circumstances. In learning situations, we claim, it is often our memory that failed the exam or saved the day. When students or educators claim bad memory it is usually assumed that memory is this one magical entity that if improved would solve an array of learning concerns. Many students who are struggling with learning in some minor or even a major way will often attribute many or all of their problems to this elusive being called ‘memory’. Students who have diagnosed difficulties with learning often claim ‘memory’ to be the culprit and students with attention difficulties will often refer to a medication that ‘fixes’ memory and wish they too could have that ‘memory drug’ in order to miraculously become a better student. Unfortunately our memory, as with most of our other gifts or challenges, exists on a continuum of strengths and weaknesses, however, it is often quite common for people to think of memory as one gift or affliction.

Often in education we lump hundreds of skills together and refer on a regular basis to them as if we were speaking of one component. Learning is one word but it represents thousands of complicated interactions. ‘Trouble learning’ could become an entire section in the library or ‘trouble reading’ might be caused by one or a combination of several hundred small idiosyncrasies of our brain’s development. A good speller is a complex mix of many,many individual components of the learning process. Memory too falls into this category. It is a complex multi-faceted process that feels like ‘one thing’. When many individual ideas are activated to encourage a memory they are activated in such a way that they “become available to consciousness as a bundle, and thus seem to be a single impression with many facets.” (Wade p88)

Students, educators and parents are not the only people to mistakenly view memory as a framework rather than a process. Educational theorists and scientists have for years been striving to understand this puzzling but very essential component of the learning process. “Research on memory has taken a significant turn in the last ten years. Memory used to be regarded as a structure; now it is seen as a process. A memory was thought of as a single unit with an identifiable place of residence somewhere in the brain, which was recalled when necessary. Now a memory is regarded as a reconstruction from many different chunks stored redundantly through the brain…..Memory is learning that sticks. When learning occurs, new synapses form, old synapses are strengthened, or both. These new or strengthened connections are the new learning. The synaptic connections are the molecular equivalent of a chunk of newly learned material, such as a telephone number…..Unless the learning is converted into long-term memory, however, it will disappear, just as new muscle fibre will break down if it is not used. Gazzaniga (1988) reports that memory occurs not just in the brain, but through the nervous system…. (Howard pg.241-242) From this emerging body of work on memory educators can find many applications to the work we do with young people. As soon as we ask students to learn on their own (grade 1 spelling words) we must prepare them with an understanding of how to learn these things on their own. As children age they take on more responsibility for completing some of their school related work at home. Learning strategies must be taught to ensure that students have all the resources necessary to prepare them for learning self sufficiency.

One of the most important facts about memory continues to bring hope to many people who claim ‘poor memories’. All the current research agrees that memory skills can and should be taught and suggests that “…once considered innate or fixed at conception, it is now recognized that memory skills are learned; and, thus, greatly impacted by environment. The implications of this finding are profound because it means if memory is mutable, it is improvable.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 127) It is essential that if memory is to be improved we must first understand the different types of memory and understand that storing and retrieving these various types of memory necessitates using different pathways to store memories and different ways of retrieving these memories.

It is essential to become familiar with the different types of memory and how best to access them, most efficiently. This type of information gives students concrete ways to address the issue of ‘poor memory’ and helps them take control of the issues that often go along with memory concerns. Because we now understand “…the brain clearly has multiple memory systems, each devoted to different kinds of learning and memory functions…. ” (LeDoux pg.198) Brain theorists stress that the most powerful learning happens when multiple memory lanes are activated. We have much more control over how we help our students overcome the issues that often plague them in their attempts to master the enormous amount of information they are bombarded with daily.

(Refer to the following visual prior to continuing, as an advanced organizer)

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As the map Memory Process suggests we are bombarded with thousands of bits of sensory information which the brain must initially sort and decide which to dispose of and which to send on for further consideration. Each short term buffer has an association cortex that holds information temporarily until it can be used or disposed of. “We don’t necessarily internalize all that we see. In fact, much of the sensory information we’re bombarded with minute-by-minute is ignored–out of necessity. We can’t possibly process all that life throws at us on a conscious level. Encoding information is not necessarily automatic, particularly when we are attending to internal matters that distract us from external stimuli.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 150) As is suggested on the map thousands of pieces of information are registered but it is impossible to retain more than a very small number at one time. Our short term memory space is developmental and many scientists confirm that the # 7 is still the magic memory number. Our developmental memory space is defined primarily by our age and by the time we are 15 that aspect of our memory is fully developed. The following chart indicates the age/memory space correlation:

Age: 3 5 7 9 11 13 15

#Memory Spaces: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
(+ or – 2 spaces)

Two spaces are added or deleted depending on interest, prior knowledge or other extenuating circumstances. The magic 7 is essential for students to understand. At times they cram and try to take a vast array of material in quickly without realizing that there are limitations to how much information can be transported through the system at one time. We also need to understand that the most dynamic and enduring learning happens when multiple memory lanes are activated regularly.
“It is now known that there are multiple memory systems in the brain, each devoted to different memory functions. The brain system that allowed me to learn to hit a baseball is different from the one that allows me to remember trying to hit the ball and failing, and this is different still from the system that made me tense and anxious when I stepped up to the plate after having been beaned the last time up. Though these are each forms of long-term memory (memory that lasts more than a few seconds), they are mediated by different neural networks. Different kinds of memory, like different kinds of emotions and different kinds of sensations, come out of different brain systems.” (LeDoux pg. 180) Because different systems are stimulated to encode and recall using different triggers or cues it is essential to understand all the avenues by which we are able to store long-term memory. Scientists warn that if we store information in one avenue and try to retrieve from another we are doomed to failure. Sprenger uses the analogy of the supermarket. If you are searching for bread you can look in the fish section for an eternity. Unless you end up trying to retrieve from the same place you encoded it becomes an impossible task. So often students know so much more than they are able to demonstrate on an examination and often it is because they are searching for the information without knowing where to look or where they initially put the lost information. It is one thing to fail an exam because you went to the movies all semester instead of working on your course but it is another thing to have spent hours every evening working just to find yourself worse off than when you began. I have worked with hundreds of students who were preparing for their diploma examinations who were so frustrated because of the numbers of hours they were working for very little gain. Ninety nine percent of these students knew their curriculum quite well but had no way of studying and controlling the large amount of information they needed to synthesize for a major examination, like a diploma exam. Studying and memory techniques often made a difference of 30 or 40 % gain in marks. I cannot stress strongly enough learning techniques must be presented along with any curriculum. “Studies conducted at various universities around the world have generally concluded that people who are asked to memorize a thirty-item list without using any learning strategies are usually capable of recalling about ten items. The number increases, however, to twenty items (100% improvement) when the subjects are taught a few basic mnemonic strategies; and those using multiple strategies are able to memorize all of the items most of the time-a 150 percent increase.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg.88) We cannot continue to leave our students on their own when it comes to learning techniques mistakenly thinking if we cover the curriculum we have completed our task!!!! “The human brain perceives and processes an astounding quantity of sensory information fuelled by about 100 billion NEURONS that have the capacity to make trillions of cellular connections. It is these cellular connections building on one another that activate learning, consciousness, intelligence, and memory. Like a snowball gathering speed and density as it travels downhill, your memory grows exponentially with use, and it is highly unlikely to ever reach full capacity. The more learning you do, the more associations your memory can grab onto. You are unconsciously improving your memory every moment that you are alive. The degree of memory enhancement you can achieve by learning about your memory and memory strategies is profound…..You will become aware of your own distinct preferences, organizational techniques, concentration abilities, and attention patterns that clearly impact your memory.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 16-17)

The following summary of the memory avenues scientists now recognize will assist in aiding our students record,retain and retrieve information more efficiently. ( refer  above to Memory Process Map) The following charts offer an elaboration of the section of the map related to long term memory storage and also offer more strategies that could be included in the section of the map entitled ‘3 Stage Process.’ We need to understand the areas of the memory process more clearly to ensure we can assist our students in gaining more efficient strategies. Each stage and each level requires information to be processed in such a way that it can be easily retrieved. When we do not honor the unique characteristics of our memory, we find ourselves searching for information we are positive is registered somewhere, in our mind. If we are in a situation where we must give a command performance (ie exam) we must be able to file information in such a way that it is easily retrieved.
Long Term Memory Avenues
Gateway to Stored Information
(Jensen , Jensen & Markowitz, Sapolsky, Sprenger)

Explicit (voluntary)

Semantic Episodic

*words *location driven
*symbols *events
*facts *circumstances
*abstractions *contextual/spatial
*requires practice *unlimited capacity
*consistent
rehearsal
*several
repetitions

Implicit (involuntary/compulsive)

Procedural Emotional Reflexive/ Automatic
*‘muscle memory’ *most powerful *physical skills *pleasure to trauma *nonconscious
*body learning *takes precedence *automated
*ie. riding a bicycle over all other *hot stove
memory

Sensory
Conditioning
Flashbulb
*many repetitions
*extreme emotion *flash cards
*frozen in time *alphabet
*decoding
eventually
*reading not
comprehension
Explicit/Implicit Memory

The memory avenues we have at our disposal to aid in long term memory storage contain either explicit or implicit memory. These two memory avenues are then subdivided to further fine tune our understanding of this complex process.
“…. the operation of two different memory systems …one involved in forming memories of experiences and making those memories available for conscious recollection at some later time, and another operating outside of consciousness and controlling behavior without explicit awareness of the past learning.”(LeDoux pg.181)
Explicit Implicit
Hippocampus Cerebellum
Short term Storage Becomes a natural procedure
Links to the nervous system

* learn piano * automatic
watch your fingers play naturally
count
slow

* climbing stairs when age 2 * run up and down without thought
slow,every step a thought do it while talking etc.

* learn a dance step * glide
count steps talk to your partner etc.
watch feet

(Jensen , Jensen & Markowitz, Sapolsky, Sprenger)
“Memories can be transferred between explicit and implicit forms of storage. for example, you are learning a new, difficult passage from a piece of piano music. Each time that stretch approaches, you must consciously, explicitly remember what to do-tuck you elbow in, bring your thumb way underneath after that trill. And one day, while playing, you realize you just barrelled through that section flawlessly, without having to think about it; you did it with implicit, rather than explicit, memory. Memory can be dramatically disrupted if you intermix implicit and explicit memories.”(Sapolsky p171)
3 Stage Process

As in the learning process and in dynamic assessment the three stages of processing information run parallel. We must first retain or encode the information. If you do not successfully process the incoming information it is impossible to continue. Once however the information is encoded we can begin to work with it. In the memory process retaining the information becomes a matter of working with or familiarizing other areas to make connections and associations in order for the information to be fresh and accessible. The third stage although not as time consuming is no less essential. If we are unable to retrieve the encoded information when we need it we might as well have spent our time at the movies. We need efficient strategies to assist us in finding what we often know is right on the tip of our tongues or remembering the information that was perfectly intact yesterday. “To forget something, you only have to fail at any one of the three stages–recording, retaining, or retrieving–but to remember something you have to succeed at all three of these stages. It’s a wonder we ever remember anything accurately. Even when a person’s memory seems to be distorted, they may be accurately recalling what was encoded into it….If this complex network called memory is made up of feelings, moods, thoughts, words, sensory perceptions, emotions, imagination, and intellect, can we expect it to be impervious to influence and interpretation?…” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 147) It becomes, again, essential to be aware of strategies and unique qualities of each stage of the memory process. This is where our active involvement can really begin strengthening the knowledge base we have giving us more control over the learning process.

Record Retain Retrieve

* intend to remember * sleep * visualize
* positive attitude * learn,activity, learn * call up study map
* interact with material ie. * personalize/MI/Style * key words
doodle, map, note- * self-questioning * colors
take, tape, group * self-test- verbally * group headings
* visualize or written * retrieve by differences
* file by similarity * external aids- notes * mnemonics, rhymes…
* map while reading/ tapes, groups * ‘state’- time, place
listening * synthesize all materials situation
* multi-memory techniques combine notes, * link known to unknown
* preferred buffer system lectures, readings * recall abstract to concrete * preexposure- reading, discussion, old * group/team exam
video, experts exams * peripherals /cues
* link to prior knowledge * abstract to concrete * rehearse prior to exam,
* repetition/self recitation * link known to unknown pace, talk, sing, chant
* play with /reorganize * learning ‘chunks’
* associate to existing * create memorable
knowledge connections-unique
*team assignment funny, personally
* new learning ,exotic relevant
strange, unusual * settling time-frequent
* manipulate short breaks /
* adrenaline/new learning movement
cross-laterals
Across all three stages———————->——————->——- >
*relax-stop-water-regroup ———————————————>
* patterns————————> * prior activities——————->* students link
* time /learning takes place over time!!! ———————————————>
* abstract to concrete ———————————————>
* grouping / categories/ organize/ color/ reorganize ————————————>
* whole brain study technique ———————————————>
* color as the message ———————————————> * Ebbinghaus Review 10 minutes
48 hours
one week
one month etc. ——————————————–>
* map entire unit, year ——————————————–>
* simulation/role play ——————————————–>
* personal connection/journal/notes ——————————————–>
* thematic units and integrated curriculum
enhance memory process, multi-
memory hooks, prior knowledge,
provide more associations and
connections ——————————————–>
Convergence
Convergence is the most current explanation that scientists give to explain how our brain retrieves information to form a seemingly disorganized mass of neurons and synaptic connections into an organized thoughtful way of processing information. Dr. Robert Sapolsky (Brain Conference Jan 2000) explains simply and eloquently about convergence using the example of someone trying to remember the word ‘IMPRESSIONIST.’ Observe, following the diagram at points A, B, D & E the subject calls to memory names or characteristics of the impressionist movement. These advance the subject closer, however,the actual term is not yet established. A,B,D & E reside in a ‘bundle’ and all add some pertinent information to the thought process, however, each comes close, but does not meet what the individual is searching for. Even F helps because it reminds us what the impressionists are not. This explains why we sometimes come up with a word that is close but not exact. The brain begins to call up everything in the general vicinity until finally we hit C Impressionists. The information converges and we finally locate the exact response we were searching for.

Convergence explains why one of the most important strategies to teach students is how to group, categorize or reorganize information into meaningful chunks. Unless students learn to group the material they need to commit to long term memory they may have difficulty finding it again. Notice on the Memory Map that a multitude of information entered the buffer area of the brain but we produced, synthesized,organized and converted the beauty, color, feeling and sensations to one superb painting.

C Impressionists
Monet

B Degas D Renoir Ballet Sunlight
Pastels Shimmering light
Sparkling light

Muted ,Soft
Beyond realism E
No picturesque effects Sombre color Diaphanous Realism A Pissaro Millet F

Memory and Stress

In my role as a Resource Teacher I have had the opportunity to see hundreds of students who thought they had poor memories and most of them were under the mistaken impression that they could do nothing about the situation.They felt so overwhelmed by the amount of information they had not conquered it was as if they were buried beneath an avalanche of facts with no lifesaving equipment in sight. I often would offer a series of workshops dealing with memory issues in hopes that students would begin to reconnect with the learning process by beginning to see they could control the information being dispensed in record amounts. A number of these students had just given up.They were defeated.

One young woman I remember very clearly was a most tragic example of this ‘avalanche’ phenomenon. She had spent 12 years in school always feeling rushed, overwhelmed and eventually tactful experts had delicately suggested she was incapable of meeting even the most basic classroom requirements. She and her family were under the impression that other than her quiet compliance and unending family support she had very little else to recommend her as a student. The evidence seemed overwhelming. As a grade 12 age student she was still unable to write one page of material without having 90% of it be totally incomprehensible. If she wrote a 100 word response to a film she viewed there would be very few words even she could make out. She took everything she was working on and would continue, at home, well into the night with the help of her brother and parents. Even with those three people helping her the material she produced was often a very crude interpretation of the original assignment. We worked with her for about a year and beginning our second year together I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to make any headway at all with her. I feared we would never find a technique to help her begin to process information more efficiently. We kept valiantly encouraging her but became more puzzled daily until she joined a group of students for a five session memory workshop. I was a little worried about her because most of the students in the group were very good (probably honor students) all wishing to gain a few extra skills to help them tackle their diploma exams. I hoped she would not feel out of place. She lasted all five sessions and at the end she had the answer I had been searching for over a year. At the end of the sessions she asked “Can stress cause you to have a poor memory?” That was it!!! For twelve years we’d all been looking somewhere else. Our hearts were in the right place but this intelligent little being inside this damaged learning machine had been shrinking farther and farther away every year from an image of herself as a learner and the learning disabilities she did have became enormous obstacles rather than hurdles to be scaled. In her grade 12 year she finally could help us help her understand how to conquer her learning hurdles. By the end of the year we could actually read half of the words she was writing and she was making gains at an astoundingly quick pace. Stress had been the initial obstacle compounding, yearly, the rate at which she got behind. As Jensen so aptly explains “Sometimes even after the learner is provided with plenty of opportunity for experimentation and interaction, the memory trace is still not strong enough to be activated. Additional factors that contribute to the issue of retrievability include adequate rest, emotional intensity, context, nutrition, quality and quantity of associations, stage of development, learner states, and prior learning. All of these encoding factors play a vital role in the depth of processing and learning that occurs.” ( Jensen 2000 p37)

I have always worked with fragile learners or gifted learners wanting to understand how better to master their own learning. The difference between the two groups is often high anxiety. Many fragile learners are dealing with issues that have so eroded their confidence in themselves as learners they have just shut down. Scientists tell us that this is a natural response.“The amygdala initiates the stress response, causing the release of the stress chemicals that block thinking.” (Sprenger pg. 39)
We understand that the learning of students who live in stressful environments can adversely affect their ability to profit from the teaching and learning process and we understand that those students with learning concerns will be under relatively more stress than normally expected however we sometimes do not realize that we can unwittingly cause unacceptable stress in harmless ways. With only the best of intentions we sometime cause students to be unable to reach their full potential because of the way we approach them or the learning situation. One seemingly harmless example is the ‘infamous’ pop quiz. “Pop quizzes may easily trigger a stress response in students….Their fear of not finishing and their anger with you could have kept many of them from accessing the particular brain areas they needed for the assignment. They remained in the limbic area with their emotions rather than reaching the neocortex and their thinking and memory skills…Although much about the brain is unknown, some things are relatively easy to understand. We know that the neocortex is where we think, plan, remember, organize, and formulate sensible answers to problems. We know that the limbic area of the brain is where we deal with our feelings. Those feelings will always take priority over anything else….Emotions will always take priority over anything else…..Because our emotions may very well be the force behind what we pay attention to, it is crucial that educators understand and deal with emotions first (Sylwester, 1997a).” (Sprenger pg. 41)

Memory Strategies

The following section offers a series of quotations from current memory researchers that propose practical strategies that apply to the memory process.
Semantic Strategies Episodic Strategies

*operate word for word *location driven
*chunk, group material *return to or remember the location
*graphic organizers *retrace steps
*maps *visual overview near learning area
*time lines (peripherals)
*paraphrasing *color code
*mneumonics *field trips
*role playing
*simulations
*visual representation Procedural Strategies
*self-questioning
*peer teaching *repeated frequently enough to
*walk/talk become automatic
*color code words,equations etc. *movement & learning
*image association *role play
*linking techniques *dance, stand up, pace & recite
Emotional Strategies Automatic Strategies

*connect to self *simple associations
*engage significant associations *rhymes
*songs (curriculum content) *songs, raps, poems
*link to strong emotions both *repetition
positive & negative *celebrate beginning & end of a unit
(Jensen, Le Doux, Sprenger)

“Since it’s normal for children’s cognitive development to fluctuate by up to three years, parents and teachers should remain patient and flexible, and watch for signs of mental readiness–a precursor to learning. When a child is ready, introducing strategies, such as rehearsing, classifying things into categories, suggesting solutions to real problems, making up mnemonic associations and discussing how to remember things, can help them develop a sense of memory control….Emphasize learning from past experiences. Engage them in puzzles, games (chess is excellent), and toys that emphasize matching, discovery, and recall. Attach rhymes to concepts you want them to remember. At this stage bringing a sense of joy to the learning process is very important. Remember that the older the child is, the more “chunks” of information they can handle.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 97)

“Recent brain research has confirmed what experts have always claimed: Our brain is capable beyond our wildest expectations. In fact, some scientists estimate that the average brain can hold as many as one quadrillion bits (that’s 1 followed by 15 zeros) of information in long-term memory….Our brain, however, are designed to retain meaningful versus random bits of information….This strategy, called CHUNKING, demonstrates how the brain can be trained to work more efficiently-to process and recall greater quantities of data. ” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 43-44)

“The brain is not designed to learn non-stop; it demands rest. In fact, as sort of a built-in rest mechanism the brain alternates energy consumption between the left and right hemispheres every ninety minutes or so. This body/mind rhythm is called an ultradian cycle. As a result of this alternating activity-rest cycle, tasks that are related more to the left side of the brain (sequential learning, understanding language, computing, and judgment) may be easier for you during a time when the left hemisphere is operating at peak efficiency. learning periods need to be interspersed with breaks for processing the material. it is during downtime that the brain synthesized the learning and taps into the inner wiring necessary for memory connectivity and recall…Since learning is a biological process that literally changes the brain’s configuration-making new synaptic connections and strengthening well-used ones-rest in also essential to optimal brain functioning. Thus, studying in forty-five to ninety minute segments with a fifteen-minute break in between increases learning efficiency since our daily highs and lows run about forty-five minutes apart.”
( Jensen & Markowitz p67)

As Sousa suggests “We file by similarity; we retrieve by difference.” (Sousa p72)

“The more learning is generalized, contextualized, and reframed the more the learner ‘owns’ it. Deep learning requires usage and feedback. Over time the meaning of the material expands; and the learner develops a level of expertise.” ( Jensen 2000 p112)
“We tend to remember things we recorded in a particular mood when we are in the same mood (state-dependency); likewise, our recall of information increases when the retrieval cue is accessible. If the retrieval cue is inaccessible, so is the memory. This is why going back to the scene of a crime is a good way to induce eyewitness memory. Most of us have experienced the recovery of a retrieval cue prompted by simply returning to the prior setting.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 149)

“Researcher Bob Stickgold at Harvard University (1997) suggests that sleep time may affect the previous day’s learning. By cutting nighttime sleep by as little as two hours, your ability to recall may be impaired the next day. The more complicated and complex the material is, the more important sleep is to the learning of it. It is believed that sleep gives your brain time to do its housekeeping- to rearrange circuits, clean out extraneous mental debris, and process emotional events.” ( Jensen 2000 p51)
“ Many psychologists believe that memories are stored in associative networks, cognitive structures in which the various components of the memory are each separately represented and linked together. In order for a memory to appear in consciousness, the associative network has to reach a certain level of activation, which occurs as a function of the number of components of the memory that are activated and the weight of each activated component. The weight of a component is the contribution that it makes to the overall memory in the network. Things that are essential aspects of a memory will have stronger weights than things that are less essential. The more cues that were present during learning that are also present during remembering, and the stronger the weights of the memory components that are activated by the cues present during remembering, the more likely it is that the memory will occur….The match between the current emotional state and the emotional state stored as part of the explicit memory facilitates the activation of the explicit memory. Co-activation of implicit emotional memory may thus help the explicit system during remembering as well as during learning.” (LeDoux pg. 212-213)
“Pay extra attention to information presented in the middle of a learning session as the natural tendency of the brain is to remember what’s presented in the beginning and end.” (Jensen & Markowitz p186)
In the book The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map by O’Keefe and Nadel they look at two groups of learners and their retention of new material over a fourteen day period. The learners who were given only direct instruction from day one to day 14 lost approximately well over 60 % of the learning while the learners who were in the direct instruction combined with peripherals for 14 day retained double the information as they were able to relate current material to previous learning and were not only able to retain the new learning but were able to increase it.“The brain absorbs information from surrounding peripherals on a conscious and unconscious level. Although many of us commonly use peripherals (or items of visual interest in the environment), they may support learning even more than we realize. Since colors, decorative elements, ,sounds, smells,and other stimuli are processed by the brain on a priority basis,these elements should be considered important in the planning of optimal learning environments.” ( Jensen 2000 p59)

Recalling the place (e.g., a specific room in a house) in which you learned a person’s name will help access the name, because the two are connected by neural networks. This is similar to taking a photo of a person standing against a background….Be careful to learn things under conditions that are easy to replicate when you need to remember them……When you are trying to teach job-related skills, create a learning environment that approximates the conditions on the job.” (Howard pg. 250-251)
“We acquire one or two bits of information per second during concentrated study; by midlife we have acquired roughly 10 to the 9th bits. Our average brain capacity is 2.8 x 10 to the twentieth, or approximately ten million volumes (books) of a thousand pages each…..Each memory seems to be stored throughout the brain, rather than in a single confined location. Apparently, memories hook on to related networks of other memories, so that for example, redheads are all somehow loosely tied together in your storage, and you can dump out a long list of redheads upon request….So there appears to be no one location within the cortex for memory storage; instead, each memory seems to have an extensive set of backups…..After a learning episode of an hour or so, take a break and do something to pump up your epinephrine levels: walk about, do isometrics, climb some stairs, do laundry, move some boxes-anything that will generate epinephrine and norepinephrine to help fix the memory. Then go back and review the old material before going on to something new….Making the effort to reorganize new material you’ve read or heard about is, in itself, a form of stress that will help you convert the material to long-term memory….Take notes on material you wish to remember.” (Howard pg. 244-245)

The three strategies of remembering
Minninger (1984) has catagorized all the many memorization gimmicks into three categories: intend, file, and rehearse. This approach has been around for some time. Erasmus wrote in 1512, “Though I do not deny that memory can be helped by places and images, yet the best memory is based on three important things: namely study (rehearse), order (file), and care (intend).” Intend to remember something; that is, don’t assume that it’ll just stick after exposure-you need to make a point of wanting to remember it. File it by organizing it and playing with it in your own special way. And rehearse it, or practice it, as a way to showing that you intend to remember it. Do it and say it repeatedly…..Before reading an article or book, preread it by reviewing section heading, pictures, charts, graphs, figures, appendixes, and bibliography to get a feeling for how it is laid out and what it covers. This will serve as a kind of advance organizer that will make the reading more meaningful…..Before taking a course or workshop, do all you can to be ready to receive the material: review the course syllabus if it is available: familiarize yourself with the course outline, agenda, handouts, or bibliography if you can; and read relevant material suggested by a librarian, the instructor, the bibliography, graduates of the course, or common sense. Contact other prior participants to discuss what they learned…..Once you’ve decided to memorize information, one way to show your intention is to chunk it and learn the chunks. Divide and conquer.” (Howard pg. 247-248)
“The Ebbinghaus Curve was charted, which as you’ll see… suggests that over half of new information learned or assimilated is already forgotten one hour later; and a month later, 80 percent of it has evaporated (Ebbinghaus 1964). One key to memory accuracy, therefore, may be its timely retrieval. This is why repetition in learning is so important.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 151)

Exam Stress

KD250E7419F_1000005Examination Stress

NOTE: The above visual and the following quotes support with expert theoretical opinions what should be discussed in each section ( 1,2 or 3)

1
Active Involvement

“…the rough truth holds up that people cannot keep track of very much unfamiliar information at any one time. The number of things that need attention simultaneously is called cognitive load. When the cognitive load gets high, pieces of information simply drop out of short-term memory…The cognitive load bottleneck contributes to some of the defaults of thinking. Narrow thinking is lower in cognitive load: there is less to keep track of. Fuzzy thinking avoids differentiation’s that otherwise require cognitive capacity. sprawling thinking occurs in part because, in thinking about complex matters, people simply lose track of where they are through cognitive overload.Literate cultures incorporate an important partial solution to the cognitive load problem: thinking on paper-or blackboard, computer, anything that can function as a scratchpad. Writing and drawing are usually considered tools of communication, but they are also very much devices for thinking at the moment. By thinking on paper, people can manage far more pieces of information than Miller’s seven plus or minus two quite handily…Unfortunately, although few would attempt intricate arithmetic or algebra without paper and pencil, people surprisingly often try to reason out complicated matters… in conversations with themselves and others, without ever touching a pencil. They seem not to realize that in juggling a huge array of factors they are dropping several along the way. This inevitably tips thinking toward the default. About anything complicated and serious, it’s wise to think on paper at least some of the time.” (Perkins 168)

2
Physical

Dehydration is a common problem that’s linked to poor learning. To be at their best, learners need water…Stress researchers found that within five minutes of drinking water, there a marked decline in corticoids and ACTH, two hormones associated with elevated stress. (Heybach and Vernikos-Danellis 1979)
“Canadian study, 500 students outperformed those at exam time who didn’t get an extra hour of movement time during the day of the exam. When activity was increased…academic scores went up”
(Brain Conf.2000,Summerford)
“UC Irvine neuroscientists discovered exercise (movement) triggers BDNF, a brain-derived neurotrophic factor that enhances cognition.” (Brain Conf.2000,Summerford)

“Peter Stick, PhD. (1995) at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center of Syracuse, New York established another important link. His staff traced a pathway from the cerebellum…back to parts of the brain involved in memory, attention, and spatial perception. Amazingly, the part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that processes learning…At a recent society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego W.T.Thatch, Jr., PhD. chair of the symposium entitled The Role of the Cerebellum in Cognition, cited eighty studies that suggest strong links between the cerebellum and memory, spatial perception, language, attention, emotion, nonverbal cues, and even decision-making” (Jensen 2000 )

“Provide ‘settling time’…The best type of reflection time is not seatwork or homework, but rather a walk, stretching, rote tasks … chores (i.e., clearing the bulletin board or hanging art), doodling, or merely resting. Breaks, recess, lunch and going home can also be considered downtime. Ideally, ‘brain-breaks’ ought to be built into your lessons… every twenty minutes or so. The more intense the new learning, the more reflection time is necessary.” (Jensen 2000 p124)
“…sarcasm, criticism and put-downs increase abnormalities in heart rate… Allan Rozanski, PhD.(1988) reports in The New England Journal of Medicine that these aberrations are as significant and measurable as those from heavy workout or pre-attack myocardial chest pains.”

“…when the brain senses danger, higher-order thinking skills take a back seat to survival concerns.” (Jensen 2000 p301)

“One of the critical factors of an enriched environment is one which is mostly taken for granted, the visual climate. Our eyes are capable of registering 36,000 visual messages per hour-a huge number when you stop to think about it…Between 80 and 90 percent of all information that is absorbed by our brain is visual. In fact, the retina accounts for 40 percent of all nerve fibers connected to the brain. With this enormous capacity, it is important to be aware of the environmental factors that influence how we see and process information.” (Jensen 2000 p 55)
“…when subjects were asked to stand, their heart rate increased by ten beats per minute on average. As a result more blood goes to the brain, thereby activating the central nervous system to increase neural firing. Standing up, he (Max Vercruyssen, PhD University of Southern California) concludes created more attentional arousal, speeds up information processing by 5 to 20 percent, and increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain by 10 to 15 percent.” (Jensen 2000 p170)

3
Memory techniques

“Generally speaking, learning results from the operation of neural linkages between global mappings and value centers. Learning is achieved when behavior lead to synaptic changes in global mappings that satisfy set points. In other words,we are learning when we can relate the knowledge from one area to another, then personalize it. Three essentials of heightened brain functions are categorization, memory and learning. The last depends on the first two; the second depends on the first. Perceptual categorization is essential for memory. The value centers are located in the hypothalamus and mid brain.” (Jensen 2000 p 82)

“…Many people believe that sheer repetition is a good way to memorize something. In fact, it is a mediocre method. Much more rapid memorizing comes from any approach that emphasizes finding familiar chunks, identifying patterns, and building associations in what you are memorizing. Why do some people invest in sheer repetition?” (Perkins p169)
“Factors for meaning making are 1) relevance; 2) emotions; and 3) context. Relevance is a function of the brain making a connection from existing neural sites. emotions are triggered by the brain’s chemistry and tag the learning as important; and context triggers pattern-making which related to the activation of larger neural fields… Relevance actually happens on a cellular level. An already-existing neuron simply ‘connects’ with a nearby neuron to make a connection.” (Jensen 2000 p281)

“Memory is the biological process whereby information is coded and retrieved…..Contrary to our collective notion of a personal “memory bank” or storage unit reserved for this purpose, memory, unlike our heart or lungs, is not a singular place or thing. Rather, it is a collection of complex electrochemical responses activated through multiple sensory channels and stored in unique and elaborate neuronal networks throughout the brain. Dynamic in nature, your memory is continually changing and evolving as new information is added to it. With the help of today’s technology, scientists have made great strides toward mapping this extraordinarily complex process we call memory…..This is because most of use have a mixture of memory-type strengths and weaknesses. Because different types of memory are stored in various function-specific areas of the brain, the act of recalling something pulls bits and pieces of “memory” together from their respective storage sites. The particular “pathway” accessed in the formation of a memory depends on multiple factors, including time, importance, purpose, content, strength, and the source of the stimuli-the basis of all memory.” (Jensen & Markowitz pg. 1-2)

References

Perkins, David (1995) Outsmarting IQ: The Emerging Science of Learnable Intelligence The Free Press, Simon & Schuster Inc. New York

Healy, Jane M. (1990) Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don’t Think. Simon and Schuster, New York

Jensen, Eric (2000) Brain Based Learning The Brain Store Inc. San Diego CA
Jensen, Eric (1996) Completing The Brain Puzzle: The Brain-Based Approach. Del Mar, CA: Turning Point.

Jensen, Eric & Markowitz, Karen (1999) The Great Memory Book The Brain Store Inc. San Diego CA

Sapolsky, Robert (1998) Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers W.H.Freeman and Company, New York

 

 

Challenging the Set Views of IQ

Challenging the Set Views of IQ

“The classic theory of intelligence in its
extreme form makes little room for
learnable intelligence…To argue the case for learnable intelligence, one must challenge
the classic theory” (Perkins p69)

Many theorists and educators claim that intelligence is fixed, however even Binet, the father of IQ was cautious and so should we be. The misuse of IQ has cause the comparison of individuals, groups with very different difficulties, and ethnic groups. Many theorists like Feurstien, Sternberg, Gardner and Perkins to name only a few, support the view that certain aspects of IQ can be mediated and taught. I have included the unique view of several theorists later in this chapter, but I have chosen to adapt the view of Perkins and Feurstien to this work. The reason for targeting only these two does not suggest I am any less interested or intrigued by the others, however, the view that Perkins offers runs parallel to the material presented in the manual and I was trained in Dynamic Assessment and feel confident offering an opinion and overview of Feurstein’s theory. (see dynamic assessment section)

Perkins is very strong in his belief that a portion of intelligence can be learned and he strongly refutes the philosophical view that IQ is fixed.“Many people believe firmly in intelligence as a fixed, genetically determined characteristic of themselves and other…I (Perkins) will argue that most people can learn to use whatever intellectual talents they have much better that they normally do…Not only individually but in our collectivity we can perhaps learn to think and act more intelligently…This revolution in intelligence is a revolution well-timed for the twenty-first century…it is empowering rather than disempowering, heartening rather than disheartening, the hopeful new science of learnable intelligence. may the revolution succeed, because we very much need it!” (Perkins p16-9)

Perkin’s view combines 3 types of intelligence:

1) Neural intelligence or Nature

*includes initial learning and special talents
*predicts rate of learning to a degree
*neurological speed and precision
*different neural structure for different aspects of IQ
2) Experiential intelligence or Nurture

*cope with novelty and unfamiliar situations
*supports day to day thinking
*coping with recurrent everyday solutions
*familiarity
*from research on expertise

3) Reflective intelligence or Mindware

*novel situations
*coping with the challenges and strategically striving to cope
*supports thinking contrary to certain neural trends
* learn to learn skills

The reflective is the area that Perkins feels can be remediated. He offers an argument for learnable intelligence. “It’s an argument that a revolution in our conception of intelligence is underway, that it’s warranted, that we define it, and that we can carry it further. I want to outline a theory of learnable intelligence that says to what extent in what ways our intelligence can be amplified…What is mindware? It is whatever people can learn that helps them to solve problems, make decision, understand difficult concepts, and perform other intellectually demanding tasks better. To draw an analogy with computers, mindware is software for the mind-the programs you run in your mind that enable you to do useful things with data stored in your memory… mindware is whatever knowledge, understanding, and attitudes you have that support you in making the best use of your mind.” (Perkins p13-14)

Most of the theorists who view IQ as mediatable also are of the opinion that ‘mindware’ is very rarely addressed in school. Perkins would include here:

*the metacurriculum
*becoming more effective learners
*metacognitive strategies
*critical thinking strategies
*active learning
*problem solving models
*thinking deeply
*concept maps
*mind mapping
*writing arguments
*modelling
* learn to learn philosophy
Perkins cites Alfred Binet suggesting that even ‘the father of IQ’ left the door open for learnable intelligence, in the 1890’s. “The power of numbers lies in the precise descriptions they afford and the precise formulations of theoretical relationships they allow…The autocracy of numbers lies in the authority they assume: things sometimes sound more real than in fact they are…this was a risk Alfred Binet recognized when he began his subtle and restrained project to measure the tendency toward intelligent behavior. Around the notion of measuring intelligence has grown up a complex and technical research tradition, a large-scale industry of testing, and a mix of awe, fear, and skepticism regarding what intelligence really means… Considering the way intelligence testing has dominated both theorizing about and practical applications of the concept of intelligence, it is not too bold to speak of ‘the empire of IQ.” True, a number of developments in the psychology of intelligence profoundly challenge this empire but there is, demanding a thoughtful look at its origins and presumptions… IQ the number is one thing and IQ the empire something else. IQ the number is no more than a measure of the trend of a person toward more or less intelligent behavior across a diversity of circumstance. IQ the empire stands on several further interpretations of what that number means.” (Perkins p42) We need to acknowledge the area of ‘mindware’ and begin to adjust our academic concerns to make time for reflective intelligence. ( see the Learn to Learn section)

In the words of a few respected theorists IQ is–

Gardner’s Opinion

“Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences…sparked a revolution of sorts in classrooms around the world, a mutiny against the notion that human beings have a single, fixed intelligence. The fervour with which educators embraced his premise that we have multiple intelligences surprised Gardner himself. (Checkley p8)

“How do you define intelligence?

Intelligence refers to the human ability to solve problems or to make something that is valued in one or more cultures. As long as we can find a culture that values an ability to solve a problem or create a product in a particular way, then I would strongly consider where that ability should be considered an intelligence… The standard view of intelligence is that intelligence is something you are born with; you have only a certain amount of it; you cannot do much about how much of that intelligence you have; and tests exist that tell you how smart your are…My analysis (Howard Gardner) suggested that rather than one or two intelligences, all human beings have several (eight) intelligences. What makes life interesting, however, is that we don;t have the same strength in each intelligence, area, and we don’t have the same amalgam of intelligences. Just as we look different from one another and have different kinds of personalities, we also have different kinds of minds.
This premise has very serious educational implications. If we treat everybody as if they are the same, we’re catering to one profile of intelligence, the language-logic profile. It’s great if you have that profile, but it’s not great for the vast majority of human beings who do no have that particular profile of intelligence.

The theory challenges the entire notion of IQ. The IQ test was developed about a century ago as a way to determine who would have trouble in school. The test measures linguistic ability, logical-mathematical ability, and occasionally, spatial ability. (Checkley p8)

“… but the shadow of IQ tests is still with us because the SAT- arguably the most potent examination in the world- is basically the same kind of disembodied language-logic instrument…The truth is, I don’t believe there is such a general aptitude. Even so, I can’t think that the SAT will fad until colleges indicate that they’d rather have students who know how to use their minds well-students who may or may not be good test takers, but who are serious, inquisitive, and know how to probe and problem-solve. That is really what college professors want, I believe” (Checkley p10)
“ When I talk about understanding , I mean that students can take ideas they learn in school, or anywhere for that matter, and apply those appropriately in new situations. We know people truly understand something when they can represent the knowledge in more than one way. We have to put understanding up front in school. Once we have that goal, multiple intelligences can be a terrific handmaiden because understandings involve a mix of mental representations, entailing different intelligences.” (Checkley p10)

Sternberg’s Opinion

“ A Yale study, based on the premise that intelligence has analytical, creative and practical aspects, shows that if schools start valuing all three, they may find that thousands of kids are smarter than they think. (Sternberg article
WDIMTBSp20)
“Our system of education is, to a large degree, a closed system. Students are tested and classified in terms of two kinds of abilities-their ability to memorize information and, to a lesser extent, their ability to analyze it. They are also taught and assessed in ways that emphasize memory and analysis. As a result, we label students who excel in these patterns of ability as smart or able. We may label students who are weaker in these abilities as average or even slow or stupid…Creativity and the practical application of information-ordinary common sense or ‘street smarts’- are two such abilities that go unappreciated and unrecognized. They are simply not considered relevant to conventional education.

The ability test we currently use, whether to measure intelligence or achievement or to determine college admissions, also value memory and analytical abilities. These tests predict school performance reasonably well. They do so because they emphasize the same abilities that are emphasized in the classroom.

Thus the students who excel in memory and analytical abilities get good grades. Practically oriented learners, however, who are better able to learn a set of facts if they can see its relevance to their own lives, lose out…The consequences of this system are potentially devastating. Through grades and test scores, we may be rewarding only a fraction of the students who should be rewarded. Worse we may be inadvertently disenfranchising multitudes of students from learning. In fact, when researchers have examined the lives of enormously influential people, whether in creative domains (Gardner 1993), practical domains (Gardner 1995), or both they have found that many of these people had been ordinary- or even mediocre-students. (Sternberg article
WDIMTBSp21)
“At any grade level and in any subject, we can teach and assess in a way that enables students to use all four abilities (Sternberg 1994, Sternberg and Spear-Swerling 1996, Sternberg and Williams 1996)… In other words, we can ask students to
*To recall who did something, what was done, when it was done, where it was done, or how it was done;
*Analyze, compare, evaluate, judge, or assess;
*Create, invent, imagine, suppose, or design; and
* Use, put into practice, implement, of show use.
(Sternberg article WDIMTBSp21)

“In a pluralistic society, we cannot afford to have a monolithic conception of intelligence and schooling; it’s simply a waste of talent…The more we teach and assess students based on a broader set of abilities, the more racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse our achievers will be. We can easily change our closed system-and we should. We must take a more balanced approach to education to reach all of our students. (Sternberg article WDIMTBSp24)

Greenspan’s Opinion

“ A new view of intelligence… we have observed hoe new capacities emerge at each stage of a child’s early development, a progression of abilities, such as attention and self-regulation, engagement, intentionality and complex pattern making, that underlie the sense of self, consciousness, and moral awareness. We have seen how, starting at the very beginning of life, emotional interactions establish the foundations for these abilities…We now come to a most important issues: that of refining what we mean by intelligence in light of this understanding of development.Intellectual capacity is more than mastery of impersonal cognitive tasks-puzzles, math problems, memory or motor exercises-or analytical thinking. Nor does it seem helpful to regard each separate talent or ability as a special type of intelligence. Our (Greenspan) definition of intelligence, while it may include many such skill, should focus on the general process whereby individuals reason, reflect, and understand the world… Intelligence represents two interrelated capacities: the ability to generate intentions and ideas, and the ability to put these creations into a logical or analytical framework. These two abilities emerge from the successful mastery of the developmental stages we have outlined. The extent to which these abilities can be applied in different areas of life determines the breadth of a person’s intelligence. Through literature, scientific observations, and art, lived experience is extended beyond our immediate personal surroundings.” (Greenspan p125)

“Standard IQ tests measure intellectual aptitude through limited linguistic, mathematical, and spatial tasks. many areas of intelligent activity are not represented. A gifted designer, negotiator, musician-a high achiever in any number of fields not taken into account by those who quantify intellect- may still possess and display the twin hallmarks of high intelligence:the ability to create ideas and perceive relationships, and the capacity to reflect on them systematically…Intelligence testers generally concentrate on cognitive skills in certain symbolic fields. conventional testing thus equates high intelligence with the ability to do well at manipulating words, numbers or shapes. Over the years, tester have built up a huge body of data about certain skills. It is the usefulness of this date base for making comparisons, rather than any theoretical consistency behind the skills measured, that keeps the traditional test in favor. Experts rely on them not because they reflect the latest thinking on intelligence but because they’re there. But since intelligence arises from affect and not merely from cognition, not true definition can limit it to so narrow a range of abilities.” (Greenspan p130)
“Rather than measuring intelligence with a single cognitive yardstick, we must find ways to evaluate it in terms of its depth and breadth. Some people evidence creative analytical ability across a wide range of intellectual endeavors… A full description of intellect would also consider the depth of an individual’s creative and reflective capacities. The ability to generate or creative ideas, then to reflect on them and organize them into a logical framework is we believe, an essential part of a definition of intelligence.” (Greenspan p130)

Perkins addresses three questions in his book

What mechanisms underlie intelligence?

Can people learn more intelligence?

What aspects of intelligence especially need attention? (Perkins p14)

“Very few schools mount persistent and effective efforts to cultivate students’ thinking, despite the mention of thinking on state agendas. The thinking-orientated questions in textbooks by and large only make a token contribution. (Perkins p16 )
xxx even Binet the father of IQ left the door open for learnable intelligence, in the 1890s xxx “He left the door open for learnable intelligence. He focused simply on how one could put a number to a phenomenon-the phenomenon of intelligent behaviour…Indeed, Binet mad the sprawl of his testing techniques into a point of principle, writing…’It matters very little what the test are so long as they are numerous’…He took this approach because he believed that intelligence, far from being one thing, was potpourri, a mix of this ability and that ability all jumbled together. He reasoned that the best approach to measuring intelligence was to sample widely the kinds of behaviors that might count as intelligent behaviors…Binet found it practical to assign numbers to intelligence, even though in his view intelligence involved a good deal more than the number captured.” (Perkins p24,5)

“The notion of IQ grew out of Alfred Binet’s cautious approach to the measurement of intelligence. Binet found that he could characterize youngsters’ general intellectual level by how they performed on this ark’s tasks, equally apt, particularly remembering Binet’s dictum that any collection of tasks that did not depend on unusual rote knowledge would do. (Perkins p26)
xxxPerkins uses the term ‘visible intelligence’ to mean when you can see how someone acts and decide how well they can problem solve ie the movers-two sets or the auto mechanic…they have visual intelligence xxx
“The specialist provide a wonderful antidote to the impression one can get form laboratory studies that intelligence first and foremost is a technical construct related mostly to academic ability. They demonstrate that intelligent behavior is not something you look for us in laboratories or classrooms but as much in the ordinary and sometimes very physical undertakings of everyday life. The phenomenon of intelligence begins not with a test but with intelligent behavior in ordinary situations…Measurable intelligence, in the sense of IQ or other indices, is simply an effort to attach a number to the complex phenomenon of intelligent behavior. sometimes such numbers are useful and revealing, sometimes misleading, but never are they the phenomenon itself. (Perkins p31,2)

Visual Intelligence (Perkins p33 )
What do people do that tells you they are intelligent?
What trends in behavior do you look for when trying to decide whether someone is smart enough for some intellectually demanding task?

“What mechanisms underlie intelligence?

*Binet’s answer proposed a potpourri of mental resources, many of which are drawn on by any task. (Perkins p38)
*Neurological speed and precision(Perkins p92)
*With genes largely determining neurological speed and precision…or different neural structures of different kinds of intelligence,or extensive common knowledge and skill, or specialized knowledge and skill,or strategies for memory, problem solving,and so forth, along with metacognition, or most likely some messy mix (Perkins p92)

*Neural intelligence… neurological speed and precision, in considerable part genetically determined, with different neural structures implicated for different aspects of intelligence, for instance linguistic versus visual-imagistic intelligence.
*Experiential intelligence. Recall that the notion of experiential intelligence sprang largely form the research on expertise. Expert;ienctial intelligence acknowledges the importance of context-specific behavior. with realm theory and the idea of knowing you way around, we have a better way of characterizing experiential intelligence than the theory of expertise, at least in its narrower form. Experi;ential intelligence amount to realm knowledge-knowing your way around the various settings and contexts where you need to function.
*Reflective intelligence. Previously I profiled reflective intelligence as a matter of strategies, positive attitudes, and metacognition. (Perkins p 263,4)
What aspects of intelligence especially need attention?

*As the above quote signals, Binet though that will, attention, and mental discipline were key. this view underscores the importance of attitudes, or what I will later call dispositions, in intelligent behavior.” (Perkins p39)
*This question is difficult to answer because of rival positions on the most important aspects of learnable intelligence. While some emphasize specialized knowledge and skill, others highlight general strategies and metacognition. meanwhile, classic g theory fights a rear-guard action. (Perkins p93)
“As a control system for neural and experiential intelligence, reflective intelligence has the responsibility of bucking the trend, harnessing the mind’s resources in more powerful patterns that break out of the typical ruts of thinking” Perkins p113)
xxxmove to new scientists xxx

 

Limitless Power of the Mind

It is important to share some of the new educational theory that is always in evidence, with our parents , so they understand we remain current but that they also understand which trends we embrace and which trends, professionally, we have concerns about. Parents are often so well read on many education related subjects but they still need guidance from professional educators to help them sift through the mountain of news and media reports, on certain trends. When we hold open discussions and information sharing sessions with our parent groups we are able to give them information and strategies that compliment and support what we are suggesting for young people today. Sharing the information that the brain researchers have found with parents, especially young parents, is very important. We are beginning to understand that the child’s environment, the world we live in and our frenzied life dramatically affects the child’s ability to learn for the remainder of his or her life span. What parents do early in the child’s life affects the lives of every educator the child comes in contact with. How able we are to serve the child greatly depends on what the parents and community have done with the child, for the preschool years and as the child and teen’s develop.

Critical Windows of Opportunity ( adapted from Jensen, Bagley,Healy)
Skill Optimal Window
Age

Emotional Control 0 to 24 months, next best time 2 to 5 yrs

Second language 5 to 10 years

Reading Ability 0 to 25 months next best time 2 to 5 years

Math and logic 0 to 4 years

Language 0 to 10 years

Speech & Sounds 0 to 24 months

Motor Development 0 to 24 months, next best time 2 to 5 years

Vision 0 to 6 months, next best time 6 to 60 months

The Brain Researchers Say: “Within the framework of parent-directed free time, then, what exactly are grade school children doing? A group at the University of Illinois and Loyala University studied children in almost 1,000 households to answer that question, and what they found may surprise you. On weekdays, grade school children spend the listed average number of minutes on the following activities:

2 minutes on hobbies
4 minutes on art activities
8 out- of – doors
11 in miscellaneous passive leisure-time activities
18 engaged in sports (25 for boys, 12 for girls)
124 watching television
128 in general play

In this study, children spent about equal amounts of time playing and watching TV. TV alone gets 400 percent more time than hobbies, art, reading, sports, and all other leisure activities combined. On weekends, playing and TV move up to two and on-half hours each. ( Many studies suggest that television viewing takes up closer to four hours a day for the typical child, with the time coming from more active play).” (Diamond & Hopson p 212 )

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“Emanual Donchin, PhD at the Champaign-Urbana campus of the University of Illinois and colleagues has documented a profound statistic (Coles, Donchin, and Porges 1986) He says that more than 99 percent of all learning is nonconscious. this means that the majority of what you and your students are learning-a quantity of stimuli that far exceeds that derived from traditionally delivered content or what’s outlined in a lesson plan- was never consciously intended. From visual cues, sounds, experiences, aromas, and feelings, you are a walking, talking sponge.” (Jensen 2000 p102)

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“The first window of opportunity for a child’s learning begins in the womb… The most important things that can be done by the mother during pregnancy are to eat well, avoid drugs and keep the stress down. How sensitive is the embryo of stress and nutrition? Very sensitive. This early ‘school womb’ is busy! Between month five as a fetus and birth, infants have grown the maximum amount of brain cells, about 200 billion. those cells, called neurons, form a vast network, connecting to other cells. The newborn child is born with about one thousand billion ( a trillion!) connections in the brain” (Jensen p1 W L )

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“The emerging message is clear: The brain, with its complex architecture and limitless potential, is a highly plastic, constantly changing entity that is powerfully shaped by our experiences in childhood and throughout life… For when it comes to the brain, experience does it: Our collective actions, sensations, and memories are a powerful shaper of both function and anatomy. What’s left for the wise parent or teacher, hoping to promote their children’s healthiest mental development, is to pick the right experiences at the right time.” (Diamond & Hopson p3 Intro)

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“The brain doesn’t snap shut or fill up. And the suggestion that a potential linguist is washed up at eight or a would-be musician is a had-been at twelve is untrue, discouraging, and a waste of human resources. The late-bloomer may not become a United Nations translator or a concert violinist, but then neither do most of us who go on to enjoy knowing second languages, playing in a small instrumental group, or competing on a C-level tennis ladder. Isn’t the object an interesting, varied life and the realization of our fullest, broadest potential? (Diamond & Hopson p4 intro)

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“Childhood enrichment is not just the province of professionals… Our goal has been to show the way a child’s brain grows and matures, the consequences of stimulation and active involvement versus boredom and passivity, and the myriad ways of enhancing environmental input without overloading the child’s mind full of enchantment.” (Diamond & Hopson p305)

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“How the brain puts its early learning capacity to use to store words was discovered by psychologist, Janellen Huttenlocher of the University of Chicago. In a pioneering study that struck down the old notion that some children learn words faster than others because of an inborn capacity, Huttenlocher showed that when socioeconomic factors were equal, babies whose mothers talked to them more had a bigger vocabulary. A twenty months, babies of talkative mothers know 131 more words than infants of less talkative moms, and at twenty four months the difference was 295…The babies were listening. Although it may not seem obvious, the vocabulary they are exposed to makes an impression on their brains. They are learning words faster than previously thought.” (kotuluk p33)

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“Exercise many well be the best tool we have for helping children (and adults) work off anger and aggression. Overall, physical exercise is one of the best tonics you can take for your brain… It helps in many different ways. It increased the levels of blood the brain receives. With more blood comes more oxygen and many other good nutrients. Exercise produces increased levels of a class of chemicals know as catecholmines(epinephrine is one) that can help in focusing the mind. It produces endorphins, substances that bind to special receptors in the brain to create feelings of well-being. Exercise also produces ‘neurotrophins,’ a whole series of nutrients for the brain that the body puts together to supply the nerve cells with the precise substances they need to grow and stay healthy.”(Hallowell WYWACYL p142)

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“Use words. Read aloud. Play word games at dinner and while driving in the car. Role-play the resolution of conflicts by talking them out. Next to physical exercise, using language to express feelings may be the best antidote we have to destructive or violent behavior. If you can’t put what you feel into words, or if you can’t argue or debate coherently or ask for what you want articulately, you feel frustrated. Frustration leads to physical acting up, sometimes to violence. This point may sound obvious, but many children are growing up these days unable to find words for what they want to say. They don’t read, they don’t write, they don’t even talk coherently as much as they should. They watch and they listen: to TV, radio, video, CD’s and the like. But these are all passive activities. Watching and listening do not ‘work’ the imagination the way reading, writing, and talking do. Language, like all neurological tools, is not a permanent fixture; if you do not us it, you lose it.”(Hallowell WYWACYL p143)

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“Encourage negotiation and the making of contracts. This is what ‘working it out’ is all about. Hear both points of view. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Make a deal. sing a contract. The more you can do this with your children, the better. When a dispute comes up, don’t impulsively bark out a response; instead, negotiate. Teaching your child to learn to negotiate, make deals, initiate agreements, and stick to contract provides him or her with a lifelong skill. Successful adults are usually the ones who have mastered these skills. It is never too early to start. Make deals with your three-year- old. Put together a contract with your six-year-old in the form of a chart or other daily monitoring device. Negotiate with your twelve-year-old regarding the rules of everyday life. If your family gets in the habit of reflexively negotiating, rather than fighting, demanding, or arguing, you will not only build a happier family but also give everyone skills that are of great value in the world outside home.Most of us parents react instead of ‘proact.’ We react to anger instead of planning in advance how to deal with what will come up.” (Hallowell WYWACYL p147)

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Numerous studies have shown “reading aloud to children builds knowledge about the world beyond the daily environment; expands vocabulary and understanding; stimulates imagination; fosters emotional growth and values through the messages in the stories; brings parents and children together; and is an advertisement for the pleasures of reading. Even for a tiny baby looking at wordless picture books, the experience helps to practice focusing the eyes, distinguishing colors, and parsing the rhythms of speech in his or her native language. Best of all, it’s time to be held, talked to, and given attention. (Diamond & Hopson p136)

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“Some action-oriented parents, for example, value language skills very little. some busy professionals rely on the nanny, who may or may not share the same native language. And many parents assume that television will fill in the language gaps for them. In fact, however, there is no evidence that television fails to help prelingual children learn to understand or speak because it’s almost never in ‘motherese’-the very slow, expressive ‘baby talk’ parents instinctively use for infants and that, according to Steven Pinker, infants instinctively like and need to hear”(Diamond & Hopson p137)

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“A child neuropsychologist at Harvard Medical School and children’s Hospital in Boston, Jane Holmes Bernstein, also has thought a great deal about hothousing in general and the Better Baby philosophy in particular. ‘To me…it’s a curiously narrow view of education. Children need the freedom to explore in order to maximize their brain power. It is not maximized by the social group putting stimuli in front of the child.’ Second, she says, ‘Brains learn not because they are told that A is A but because they are told that A is A and that B is not A. A child doesn’t learn,’ she explains, by a parent telling them ‘This is a cup. This is a cup. This is a cup. But if you say ‘This is a cup, but this is a dish,’ the brain goes click!…The benefits of drilling small children and infants, she concludes ‘is a belief system’ that is not supported by scientific data” (Diamond & Hopson p 166)
“The biggest critic of early academic training, whether at home or in preschool settings, is surely David Elkind, a professor of child studies at Tufts University. Elkind, in his books The Hurried Child and Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk, warns parents and educators about the dangers he sees in teaching academic subjects to young children. Over the short-term, he says, young children stressed by educational pressure tend to show fatigue, decreased appetite, lowered effectiveness at tasks, and psychosomatic ailments. Over the long term, says Elkind, the children can show less interest in learning, less ability to work independently to judge their own progress, and the tendency to worry and compare their intelligence with other children’s As Fervently as some parents believe that a child’s potential is wasted by letting her play until she reaches school age, David Elkind insists that exposing her to anything other than self-directed activities can be harmful and dangerous. (Diamond & Hopson p 167)

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“One thing to keep in mind is that every choice-even indecision or inaction- has an impact. The environment exerts a strong shaping influence on the young brain, and his or her sensations, mental stimulation, and experiences all become part of the preschool child.” (Diamond & Hopson p 170)

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“Regardless of a child’s kinesthetic intelligence, physical activity is an enrichment for the motor cortex and other parts of the brain ( not to mention the whole body), as long as the play is safe and fun…And that’s a big caveat. Pressure to excel and win not only help drive 75 percent of children who start any given sport to drop out by age fifteen, but they foster self-sabotage and the attitude that playing is not worth it if you can’t conquer an opponent.(Diamond & Hopson p208)

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See also the information from the introduction on how our world has changed. it is  especially important to include the information about TV and media influences.