Scientists are always uncovering new ways into how people learn best, and some of the most recent neuroscience research has shown connections between basic survival functions, social and emotional reactions to the world, and creative impulses.
Students’ social and emotional reactions to learning are imperative to feeling motivated to learn and to their ability to creatively solve problems, according to Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, who wrote Musings on the Neurobiological and Evolutionary Origins of Creativity via a Developmental Analysis of One Child’s Poetry [PDF]. Her research tries to understand why emotions are so important to learning by examining what happens to brain functions.
“Neuroimaging experiments show us that we use the very same neural systems to feel our bodies as to feel our relationships, our moral judgments, and our creative inspiration,” said Immordino-Yang, a professor at USC’s Rossier School of Education and an expert on the neuroscience of learning and creativity. Her whose work focuses on how neuroscience can help teachers understand the ways students learn best, and to that end, she’s created a free online curriculum for teachers.
“Help kids know how to make meaning and sense of what they are learning so they can see who they are.”
The neuromechanisms responsible for feeling and managing the body’s physical survival and consciousness have been co-opted to also manage social survival. “Survival in the savanna depends on a brain that is wired to make sense of the environment, and to play out the things it notices through patterns of bodily and mental reactions,” Immordino-Yang writes. “This same brain, the same logic, helps us make sense of and survive in the social world of today.” To make something relevant to a learner, it should inspire an emotional reaction in the person, triggering these survivalist parts of the brain that indicate something is important.
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“The way that we make meaning out of situations, and the way that we feel and evaluate things, is plated on the same neural platforms as do the basic job of managing our viscera,” Immordino Yang said. When a topic strikes a chord with a student it feels meaningful because the part of his brain firing is the same part that keeps him conscious and alive. It’s also the part of the brain responsible for novel, creative or new ideas.
“Creativity is representing some kind of relevant problem in a new way and making people Continue reading