The integrated essay explores the similarities and differences between brain-based and more traditional approaches to human learning. The analysis examines the strengths and the weaknesses of each approach based on relevant evidence. Based on observations of brain-based learning and its implications in both formal and informal settings, the paper provides a personal reflection on the weight of brain-based learning in my future career as an educator. The anticipated challenges and suggested solutions are researched.
Brain Based vs. Traditional Learning
Brain-based learning relies on scientific research about the ways the human brain learns. The approach embraces a wide range of teaching methods, lesson designs, curricula and school programs. Brain-based learning, therefore, reflects various learning approaches (styles) adopted by students while they mature with age as well as with their cognitive, social, and emotional growth (Kvan & Yunyan, 2005). In other words, brain-based learning explores how a person progresses towards cognitive milestones at different paces and periods of their life.
The traditional classroom environment, however, fails to consider such a progress. Mostly, this environment divides students based on the age principle rather than their cognitive abilities. For instance, the traditional classroom environment puts all 8-9-year-old students into a third grade regardless their individual cognitive capacities and potential. This means that they are prone to be taught by the same methods. Conversely, brain-based learning that emphasizes learning at an individual cognitive level (rather than one’s age) is a profound method to reach utmost cognitive potential for every individual student.
Both brain-based learning and traditional classroom environments assume that a teacher should approach every student with a certain degree of differentiation. Classroom environment assumes the accomplishment of various activities either individual or in groups. A teacher’s personality plays a decisive role in classroom management. At that, both environments assume active student engagement in a learning experience. This way, both approaches achieve the targeted outcomes related to academic progress and learning accuracy of students.
The weight of brain-based learning
As future educator, I have so far found that the major advantage of the brain-based learning over the traditional classroom setting is framing the time of new knowledge. In this respect, Jensen (2005) notes that every learning session should end with a period of time needed for content settlement. Students should have short breaks during which their brain will settle the absorbed information. By contrast, time resources are rather limited in the traditional classroom settings that seem to always lack time. Therefore, teachers do their best to communicate as much information as they possibly can to the students. However, students’ brain simply cannot comprehend it all. As a relevant alternative comes the brain-based learning approach primarily focused on how the human brain works. This scientifically backed method provides educators with sustainable background to design lessons and teaching methods based on individualized selection that assumes individual student relevance. At that, the time needed for content settlement may be spent as a walking experience outside the classroom. During the short breaks, students will absorb new information more effectively.
The greatest challenge under way is differentiating between the time allowed for students to process the new information and the volume of the provided content by an educator. Apparently, the majority of students will not equally cover all the material. Here comes the brain-based learning approach that assumes individual cognitive capacity of each student. On this basis, I sincerely recommend to develop and implement progressive educational curricula and programs on the grounds of the brain-based learning as a relevant substitution to the uniform classroom learning approach. The essential difference between the two is that the former gradually lays a strong learning foundation in student minds, whereas the latter is virtually skimming the surface of knowledge.
- Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
- Kvan, T. & Yunyan, J. (2005). Students’ learning styles and their correlation with performance in architectural design studio. Design Studies, 26 (1), 19-34.