WHOLE BRAINED LEARNING
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
The brain is constantly rewiring, processing, learning, and storing new information daily.
Never resting, it is an active network of stored information and the control-center of the entire body.
Divided in the middle, creating two hemispheres, the right and left side each have specific functions. The brain generates intellect, emotions, analytical thought, and creativity, and the diverse neuron connections of the two hemispheres define each unique individual.
Each person is different based on the fundamental neural structure and these neural networks are significant reading, learning, pattern recognition, and memory. This can be challenging as an educator trying to teach to each unique brain “difference in connectivity, myelination, brain volume, prior knowledge, nutrition, and a lot of other factors,” (Trníková, 2013, p.1).
Advancing research in neuroscience and education shows that brain structure changes when learning, called neuroplasticity.
Plasticity is a result of stimulating the neurons and is one of the most important aspects of the brain related to learning. Either the right or left hemisphere can be dominant in different learning situations, but whole-brain learning stimulates neurons in both hemispheres producing constructive growth changes in the brain.
The brain is a powerful machine of learning where educators should strive to teach based on whole-brain thinking because decoding, encoding, memory, and retrieval stimulates networks of neuron connections in both hemispheres creating neuroplasticity growth and increased knowledge simultaneously (Masson & Brault Fossey, 2014).
Whole-brain teaching encourages neuron activity in both hemispheres of the brain concurrently. As the brain stimulates neurons, creating growth factor and plasticity, enlargement in decoding and encoding skills ensue. Because the brain contains about ninety million neurons, and they can reach from one hemisphere of the brain to the other, whole-brain teaching by educators is a must for strong decoding and encoding knowledge (Masson & Brault Fossey, 2014).
Decoding is the ability to obtain meaning from the message and make understanding of what someone already knows, acquiring and absorbing the information, such as in reading.
Encoding is the ability to create a message and share meaning with what you know, such as spelling and writing.
Different parts of each brain hemisphere process encoding and decoding. For instance language development is primarily processed in the left hemisphere of the brain, and many educators plan lessons in language arts focusing on left-brained learning. But some students, such as a dyslexic, will use the right hemisphere frequently to decode and encode.
Dyslexia is neurological in foundation creating visual, auditory, phonological, cognitive, and fluency processing difficulty in language as educators focus on teaching to the left hemisphere. This left-brained language learning is satisfactory for the average learner, but for the researched fifteen to twenty percent of the population, focusing only on the left dominate hemisphere to teach language hinders a dyslexic learner.
Whole-brain, multi-sensory, and systematic instruction must be taught to allow a dyslexic brain to absorb and retain information, but is also highly beneficial the average learner. Decoding and encoding skills are foundational to success in learning (Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2008).
Memory is an extremely important aspect in learning. Dendrites sprout arms from neurons, and “dendrites grow in size and number in response to learned skills, experience, and information,” (Trníková, 2013, p.2). These dendrites form the neuroplasticity in the brain with repeated practice creating a memory and retrieval system.
A whole-brain, multi-sensory method using both hemispheres when teaching information allows for more stimulation of neuron growth creating strong pathways of learning, memory, fluency, and retrieval.
This is the best way for teachers to introduce and repeatedly review information for a student’s brain to connect concepts. (Trníková, 2013).
As decoding and encoding use several areas of the brain to take in and understand information, memory and retrieval of that information are stimulated in other areas of the brain. Because there are many different areas for memory, an educator should always use multiple methods to stimulate neurons for memory growth.
1. Masson, S., & Brault Fossey, L.-M. (2014). Fundamental concepts bridging education and the brain. McGill Journal of Education, 49(2), 501–512. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1641640080/7CC0BC12C60F49E7PQ/1?accountid=31683
2. Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2008). Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Yale Dyslexia. http://dyslexia.yale.edu/research-science/ycdc-research/paying-attention-to-reading-the-neurobiology-of-reading-and-dyslexia/
3. Trníková, J. (2013, March). Brain-based learning strategies and inclusive education. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com