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Learn to learn: what pupils need to know about the learning brain

Pupils need a basic understanding of how the brain works – here’s what to tell them

Brain

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was a world-famous scientist, now known as the father of modern neuroscience.

But he wasn’t always a research superstar. In fact, he was a terrible student as a child. He had a bad memory, which made it very hard for him to learn, and he hated school.


This article is part of a series by Professor Barbara Oakley called Learning How To Learn (L2L). A list of all the chapters will be available at this link from 16 April.


He loved art but he especially hated science and maths, which caused fights with his father.

But Santiago discovered that, despite his difficulties, if he persisted he could still learn very well, even if he wasn’t a fast learner like some other people. 

When he became a scientist and began making discoveries about the brain, he discovered more about how the brain learns. He recognised that it is when students both understand and practice what they are learning that they can become successful, even if at first it seems difficult.

Telling pupils this really does have an impact, but they need to know why practice makes sense. The following video explains:

  • Neurons and their parts.
  • Synapses (the connecting point between neurons).
  • The value of creating sets of brain links.
  • Neuroplasticity – that is, our brain can change, therefore, we can change by learning new things.

 

This article is part of a series by Professor Barbara Oakley called Learning How To Learn (L2L). A list of all the chapters will be available at this link from 16 April.

Notes by Professor Barbara Oakley and ESIC Business and Marketing School. Videos reproduced with kind permission of the Arizona State University and Professor Barbara Oakley.

For more information, see Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens.

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