Education and the Upcoming Book Publication

October, 2017 – ulsan-442399_1920

Education as a Way to Incorporate our Knowledge into Practice 

This short and informative article is to introduce the upcoming book on education as a way to incorporate our knowledge into practice, or in simple terms how to learn well and teach well.

I will speak a little about what the message of the book is, and then give a tiny glimpse – into how to put that message to practice.

Let’s go ahead at get to the point.

The message:

The knowledge of human mind, body, spirit, and function is crucial in creation of truly conducive education.  

In my research/practice I found that the most important and efficient approach an educator can bring to a program/school/lesson is to focus on developing each student’s potential, in each student’s current state of development with great flexibility and quality at the same time. Listening to each individual student’s needs and helping each one select qualified goals that also meet personal aspirations is essential. The educator must combine this flexibility with the firm requirements of a given standard, discipline, or curriculum, thus allowing for a successful program with maximum individual student and group benefit. The motivations applied by educators should avoid fear in students by all means, since threat can block new learning (Goswami 2008, Arguelles et al. 2003). The encouragement of cooperation and acceptance has sufficient creative possibilities for realizing students’ potentials. In fact positive states, like “physiological coherence” (Arguelles et al. 2003) can boost learning substantially.

Flexibility of the method is essential to fit individual teaching styles, while flexibility of the teacher, in turn, is essential to fit individual learning styles and the various combinations of always uniquely talented participants. The responsibility of every educator is to be part of the solution to each student’s learning challenge within any given educational environment.  

Putting it into Practice:

Introducing student-centered aspect below and how to do it in practice will suffice as a sneak peek into the ideas of the book. Happy Reading:

Integrated Arts Method is a student-centered way of teaching, which also incorporates experiential, integrated, and conducive ways of teaching and learning. This method is the foundation of IAMethod technique, given in the upcoming book as a tool for assisting and collaborating in the field of education, and as a topic of research, with the ultimate goal of effective teaching and effective learning.

IAMethod student-centering involves not only understanding personal traits and interests of specific students (or yourself), but it also involves knowing and considering the physical mechanisms, which influence student’s performance of assigned tasks. This aspect enables meaningful, enjoyable, memorable, and experiential learning for all students. The techniques and requirements for facilitating this aspect in IAMethod are: 1) attention to students’ physiological states and learning capacities, followed by appropriately conducive responses, which in turn involve the use of 2) flexible, multi-sensory, and student-centered instruction, and 3) careful attention by educators to their own transmission of signals and attitudes towards consistently enhancing students’ learning.

Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at Cambridge University, Usha Goswami, states that: “… there is a complex interplay between biology and environments…” and that “… Improved knowledge about how the brain learns should assist educators in creating optimal learning environments” (Goswami 2008, 381). The influence of brain centres on bodily rhythms, temperature, blood pressure, mental activity, and physical performance has been well documented and is worth considering (e.g., Harvard Health Publications 2014, Arguelles 2003, Rose 1987, Dryden and Vos 1994). The influence of adequate sleep and nutrition are easily noticeable by most educators. But other physiological influences on student performance should not be viewed as mysteries beyond the educator’s expertise. Rather they should be welcomed as valuable information which cannot be dismissed if truly student-centered and enjoyable quality learning is a guiding objective.

In IAMethod attention to each student’s physical capacity for learning is facilitated by the third IAM key principle, i.e., conducive atmosphere (i.e., conducive education, read free Soyfer 2016, 11-14) and it is considered to be directly related to the success and efficiency of a given program. The educator must quickly notice when the limit of at least one student’s cognitive capacity for attention and new information encoding is approaching (e.g., a student illustrates slowed response to stimuli). The educator’s response in this situation defines whether or not the instruction is in line with this type of student-centering. If the educator ignores this point and makes no change, the learning process is no longer student-centered. On the other hand, if the educator responds with actions that aim to sustain efficient learning, the instruction is student-centered. Two such responses are: 1) switching briefly to review of already-encoded material in order to reinforce self-appreciation for past achievements thus helping to revive intrinsic motivation, and 2) incorporation of brief physical activity in order to re-activate cognitive resources through increased oxygen intake and blood flow. These generalized techniques have been efficient throughout and beyond IAM programs. Of course, the choice of response to this situation would depend on the student. This is why it is important to be well aware of factors influencing the results of chosen techniques. Among many well documented factors is the role of oxygen in brain functioning:

… you get oxygen through breathing. That’s why deep breathing is highly recommended before and during study: to oxygenate your blood. And that’s why exercise is not only good for your body, it’s good for your brain. It enriches your blood with oxygen. (Dryden and Vos 1994, 133)

The student-centering in IAMethod not only aims to sustain students’ active eagerness and capacity for learning, but it also aims at individually meaningful presentation of material.

 

One final point I would like to introduce about the student-centering is its relationship to the educator’s attitude or mindset during teaching. In addition to the educator’s words, students continuously notice and encode the educator’s appearance, emotional states, and attitudes (Lozanov 1978, 2). Due to the multifaceted role-modeling they are performing, educators should be comfortable and positive in their teaching. Georgi Lozanov’s experiments in suggestopedy (i.e., his teaching method) support my observation that whether by intention or not, teachers influence the learning of their students far beyond the teaching content:

…our research has been directed toward the role and significance of suggestion in the process of teaching and learning. … Teachers exert an influence on the students not only with what they say, but also with the intonation of their voices, their smiles, gestures, clothes, movements and their whole attitude toward the pupils. (Lozanov 1978, 2)

Teachers, if informed and trained accordingly, can influence deeper mental processes in order to increase students’ overall learning ability:

Subsensory (or subliminal) reactions, if provoked by a specific system, can affect the ability to memorize … It has been shown in a number of experiments that subsensory reactions can affect man’s intellectual activity… (Lozanov 1978, 4)

The teacher can affect students and instill in them subconscious ideas about themselves, their abilities, and their potentials for learning what they want and need. In IAMethod, for example, the educator is expected to use this influence positively for enhancing students’ beliefs in their abilities (i.e., encourage them), for raising their enthusiasm for learning related tasks, and for being able to help them reach their learning goals and intentions (which are set in collaboration with the educator).

The merits of student-centered pedagogical approaches and the atmospheres they create are well documented by scientific and empirical studies, some of which will be outlined in the upcoming book, in clear terms.

These studies/research help explain why it is possible to eliminate the need to pre-select and justify a fixed curriculum. The educator must be prepared to teach a variety of pedagogically qualified material at a variety of levels in order to guide the learning of each student individually. The upcoming book lists most notable support relevant to general education and learning, while more details are also available in the free online dissertation (Soyfer 2016) with literary support, pedagogical techniques, material, templates, plans, real-world examples, and results related to achieving this.

(About the series: In these education series, we are going to communicate to you information researched as through Nina Soyfer for her dissertation work. And in the following publications we are going to open our discussion floor for others. And, if they are interested, we are going to publish it as a part of the IAMethod Technique in New Research in Education Objective.

Series – Education in line with research, (on) and function of our body

 

Selected Bibliography:

Arguelles, Lourdes, Rollin McCraty and Robert A. Rees. 2003. “The Heart in Holistic Education.” In Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 13-21.       http://www.heartmath.org/templates/ihm/downloads/pdf/research/publications/heart-in-education.pdf (accessed April 11, 2014).

Caine, Renate Nummela and Geoffrey Caine. 1990. “Understanding a Brain-Based Approach to Learning and Teaching.” In Educational Leadership, vol. 48, no. 2: pp. 66-70. http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_199010_caine.pdf(accessed October 6, 2014).

Goswami, Usha. 2008. “Principles of Learning, Implications for Teaching: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective.” In Journal of Philosophy of Education, vol. 42, nos. 3-4, pp. 381–399. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9752.2008.00639.x/pdf(accessed February 1, 2015).

Jones, Timothy B., ed. 2013. Education for the Human Brain: A Road Map to Natural Learning in Schools. Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Lozanov, Georgi. 1978. Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers Inc.

Meier, David. 2014. The Center for Accelerated Learning: What is Accelerated Learninghttp://www.alcenter.com/what_is.php (accessed April 28, 2014).

Ozden, Muhammet, and Mehmet Gultekin. 2008. “The Effects of Brain-Based Learning on Academic Achievement and Retention of Knowledge in Science Course.” In Electronic Journal of Science Education, vol. 12, no.1. Southwestern University. http://ejse.southwestern.edu/article/view/7763/5530 (accessed October 6, 2014).

Rose, Colin. 1987. Accelerated Learning. New York: Dell Publishing.

Schutz, Paul and Reinhard Pekrun, ed. 2007. Emotion in Education. London: Academic Press.

Soyfer, Nina. 2016. “Integrated Arts Pedagogy and Philosophy.” Canada: York University. http://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/32252(accessed January 12, 2017).

Sweller, John, Jeroen J. G. van Merrienboer, and Fred G. W. C. Paas. 1998. “Cognitive Architecture and Instructional Design.” In Educational Psychology Review, vol. 10. No. 3, pp. 251-296.