Imagine a class that students look forward to daily. Connect what students love to do and what you love to teach, and expect fireworks to follow. Alfred North Whitehead (English philosopher in the early 1900s) calls us to Romance the Joy of Learning.
Even before research affirmed how fun boosts brainpower, Whitehead saw learning’s punch through joy. Do students connect fun with understanding in your lessons? My students call it funderstanding – when we deliberately weave delight into lessons by reconfiguring them to include a sense of adventure.
According to Robert Lee Holtz, Wall Street Journal Science Columnist, researchers found that sudden insights or Eureka moments show unique neural activity in EEG sensors. Interestingly, aha moments of sudden insights are the culmination of an intense and complex series of brain states that require more neural resources than methodological reasoning. It seems the brain is most actively engaged when our mind is wandering joyfully, and we’ve actually lost track of our thoughts.
Joy impacts moods, motivation and achievement in reconfigured learning.
1. Connect joy to learning by generating one different approach for each lesson. Perhaps students overcome a problem they face, or propose a new possibility for a lesson event.
3. Connect choices to adventures that add resilience. Guided ventures such as class publications, can inspire students to focus on even the most challenging tasks. I display a poster with Helen Keller’s reminder, Life must become a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.
4. Connect lessons to joyful learner experiences. When facts relate to student lives, they can fuel wisdom and drive well being. For instance, I collaborate all outcomes with students so they help to design relevant tasks that meet our core standards.
5. Connect lessons to laughter that amps up student dividends. Brain chemicals such as serotonin which is associated with well-being, open minds to deeper understanding, In contrast cortisol, which is associated with anger, fear, stress, boredom, or frustration – shuts down learning.
Imagine your next class where students come with keen awareness of their capabilities and a craving to romance the joy of learning together. What will you do to spring your next lesson into life?
Ellen Weber is a whole brain curriculum specialist at secondary and higher education. She works in secondary and college learning renewal where she has won awards internationally for her practical brain based Mita model to engage both sides of students’ brains.