Brain Based Learning

Brain-based learning is a theory that as long as the brain can continue to function it's normal processes, learning can occur. Three important instructional strategies associated with brain-based learning are: orchestral immersion, relaxed alertness, and active processing.

Orchestra immersion is the idea that a student should be fully immersed in the learning experience. This implies creating an environment where a student feels like he/she is a part of the process and is living it. Relaxed alertness is the idea of keeping a student's fear in check while still providing a challenging environment. Active processing is the means by which a student is given the opportunity to continually and actively process information to internalize, consolidate, and relate it.

Brain-based learning is leading to classrooms where:

  • Contructivist models are used for learning and teaching
  • Students are actively involved and engaged in the learning process
  • Students are taught meaning and understanding rather than rote memorization
  • Classroom environments are highly challenging, yet not threatening
  • Students are involved in complex learning experiences
  • Instructional practice and strategies are based on education research

I found an interest in this topic after one of my fellow teachers attended a seminar on brain-based learning last summer and came back with some useful pieces of advice and encouragement for helping students stay focused in the class and encouraging active learning. The book by Clyde A. Winters presents his experiences and ideas about the theory of brain-based learning as it relates to special education. Some schools have completely adapted their curriculum to the neurobiological science of brain-based learning and it is a topic of high interest amongst educators.

While this is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to brain-based learning. I wanted to provide a baseline for the concept of this theory of learning because this movement seems to be the trend as far as education research and curriculum development in my local school. I also feel like this is what I have been learning all along in my program at AU in regards to how to teach my all of my students, not just those with special needs.

Dr. Winter's book reviews the educational psychology and links between the brain and the nervous system on student learning. He explains some ways on how we can bridge the gap between education and the physical brain and also offers some additional tips on teaching students with learning disabilities based on the mechanisms of brain-based learning.

Created by: William Hale


Brain-Based Learning and Special Education Book: