There is one undeniable fact in education. If the learner is not paying attention learning is impossible.

You can choose the best schools, the most suitable curriculum and the top teachers but if all of that doesn’t ignite in your child the ability to focus his or her attention on what is going on, then it is all for naught.

Now I am not in the habit of thinking of problems without talking about what we can possibly do to overcome them. So this post is about that, potential solutions.

Switched On

The work of Anat Baniel inspires me to think of attention in a way that is neither carrot nor stick, but rather a liberating of the child to find their inner motivation and drive. Her thinking is liberating and open, avoiding restrictions in favour of ‘what if’. Here are some of her words, you can read more on her website, in her books, DVD’s and CD’s.

“The brain is either in a learning mode—the learning switch is on—or not. Healthy young children have their learning switch on and the dial turned on “high.” Their eyes are bright, their movement lithe, and they are full of energy. Repetition, drill, and everyday stresses, as well as habitual patterns of thought, exercise, and emotions, all tend to turn the learning switch off. The same happens when a child has special challenges, or a person has suffered trauma or injury. For the brain to properly do its job, the learning switch needs to be on. Once on, at any age, life becomes a wonderful new adventure, filled with movement, creativity, and new possibilities.”

So what can we do to turn the ‘learning switch’ on?

Baniel has 9 Essentials which support her work and the idea that the brain can change. Her ideas are simple and practical, aimed at the teacher and parent. There are also generalised through cognitive, physical and emotional areas of development.

  • She teaches subtlety as a way to help children differentiate so that their learning makes sense,
  • she stresses the importance of awareness in order for the brain to build new connections,
  • variation is a key to understanding as we see things from fresh perspectives,
  • how we must avoid fast until we have the skill because working or moving fast causes us to fall back on old patterns that may not be serving us, that slow is the way to learn and fast is what we do when we have mastered it,
  • how parents and teachers can change a child by just feeling enthusiasm, by using instinctive connections humans are able to pick up others emotions so when we feel anxious, angry and disappointed our children know and feel it too,
  • to having flexible goals so that you can move with your child as they find their learning path rather than correcting the course all the time,
  • using imagination to think of what could be possible so that in the mind it becomes real and then in reality it becomes so, and
  • enabling and creating awareness in order to counteract compulsion or automaticity that stands in the way of learning.

From learning about the importance of Enthusiasm to being more flexible with our goals, Baniel shows us a new way of thinking about learning, a literal mind shift that makes sense.

Author: Lauren Edmunds – Copyright

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