LEARNING THEORY IN THE HOLISTIC PARADIGM

          Learning is a physiological process... a natural function of the brain

theme: evolutionary significance of learning and the retention of learning or memory... the processes of learning and memory are natural functions of the brain which developed because they were of survival value. Learning is a physiological function of the brain involving the transmission of signals along nerve cells and across their junctional connection. The number of nerve cells in the brain is fixed at birth and no new nerve cells grow and  develop. Learning and experience change the structure of the neural networks. The number of nerve cells in the brain is fixed at birth and no new nerve cells grow and develop. Learning is a function of stimuli strong enough to influence the effectiveness of synapses in the transmission of signals from one neuron to another across the synaptic clefts. It is a function of the effectiveness of synapses to propagate signals and initiate or 'fire' new signals along neighboring neurons.... In general the findings in brain research indicate that effective learning results from the wholistic response of the whole brain to incoming stimuli.

"The research of the neuroscientists and psychobiologists, together with the knowledge and intuition of educators and psychologists, points to the need for a more deliberate involvement of the whole brain in the process of learning." (Caine Making Connections p.7)

"Learning occurs as a result of changing the effectiveness of synapses so that their influence on other neurons also changes."(Geoffrey Hinton, "How Neural Networks Learn from Experience," Scientific American, 267:3. September 1992, 145)

psychobiological research... Wholistic brain-based learning for natural knowledge

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Freud's contribution to learning theory: role of unconscious emotions... Freud's mechanistic model of the psyche... 'dynamic theory of personality' or 'scientific psychology'...

definition of learning...   

 experiential learning...   'brain based learning'...   brain-based learning as optimal learning or 'optimalearning' ...

successful tool use depends on human ability to learn...    learning as a product of brain evolution...   learning in emotional context...

evaluation of environmental stimuli...   spatial memory ...   learning and proster theory...

        'map learning'                                                                                                

         

Learning with the brain's rules: 'brain-based learning'... also 'complex learning'   

 What is learning? In its broadest sense, 'learning' is defined in terms of the changes of behaviour which result from experience, and includes the retention of learning or 'memory' as 'the process of remembering'. The learning process is derived from the brain's innate,  survival oriented drive to make sense of unfamiliar stimuli...  For the convenience of argument, it is necessary to distinguish between learning as the acquisition of new behavioural responses and 'memory' as the retention and recall of responses which have been learned. Learning is a highly developed mental function which is the natural outcome of evolution by natural selection.

..real learning experience provides one with opportunities to integrate life experiences... independent activities are integrating experiences. They integrate life experiences into a unified whole. The inability to integrate life experiences ('psychological impotence') results from the interference of natural strivings to take charge of one's life and health i.e. 'freedom'.

 Enhancement of the capacity for learning is a function of the development of the human organ of learning i.e. the 'brain'.

"One of the most important lessons to derive from the brain research is that in a very important sense, all learning is experiential. What we learn depends on the global experience, not just on the manner of presentation. We do not automatically learn enough from our experience. What matters is how experience is used. Our conclusion is that in deliberately teaching for the expansion of natural knowledge, we need both to help students have appropriate experiences and to help them capitalize on the experiences." (Caine 104)

Two types of learning: implicit and implicit All life experience takes place in the context of a given physical, social and space or 'cultural context'. The brain naturally makes meaning of the events of life or 'learns' in mental space. There are two types of learning - learning which does not require conscious participation - 'reflexive' or 'implicit learning - and learning which requires conscious participation - 'declarative' or 'explicit learning'. Implicit learning which does not require conscious participation involves the learning of skilled movements or 'motor skills'. Implicit learning is studied in various animal reflex systems... expressed through activation of the sensory and motor neurons which are engaged in the learning task. Implicit  learning is slow and requires many trials involving the association of sequential stimuli... 'conditioned learning' or 'conditioning'. Conditioning allows for storage of information about predictable events. Adaptation to the non-predictability of life events depends on learning which does require conscious participation involving the creation of concepts for understanding or 'cognition'. Cognition is a function of the brain's innate capacity to make sense of unfamiliar stimuli, a capacity which is necessary for adaptation which depends on the brain's constant monitoring and comparing of present conditions and surroundings with memories of past experience... a function of the 'prefontal lobes'. The prefrontal lobes are the source of the individual's motivation for behavioural adaptation.

Cognitive learning for adaptation and survival  'Cognitive learning' is quick and requires only one trial involving the association of simultaneous experiences. It is a creative process which is inherently challenging and absorbing because it engages the imagination which is deep involvment of natural inquiry or 'curiosity' derived from the instinct for 'self-preservation'. It is the driving force of motivation which is intrinsic to the organism i.e. intrinsic motivation. Cognitive learning allows for storage of information about a single event. It represents the major vehicle for behavioural adaptation to a continually changing social environment i.e. 'adaptability'. Adaptability is only possible with the retention and retrieval of learning or 'memory'. Memory of cognition or 'cognitive memory' is the basis for human 'awareness' or 'consciousness'.

'Mental space ' in cognitive learning: spatial memory system and the search for meaning or 'natural learning'  The moment-to-moment events of conscious life are processed or 'remembered' in the 'temporal lobes' of the 'limbic system' - a region of the brain known as the 'hippocampus'. The hippocampus is the location of the brain's 'spatial memory system' which functions in the storage of new memories. The spatial memory system allows for the immediate consolidation of memory of experience. New information is processed and stored in the 'short-term memory'. (Information in the short term memory is stored for ... and then it is transferred to the cerebral cortex where it can be expressed as the cognitive memory - 'long term memory' or 'working memory' - which is required for contemplation or 'thinking'  for understanding or 'cognition'). The spatial memory system drives the search for meaning or 'understanding' i.e. 'natural learning'. The power of the spatial memory system is based on its activation by novelty. In a process of 'experiential learning' new information about the environment is processed in the context of previous life experience and in this way is related to knowledge already acquired. New learning patterns are embedded in the old ones producing a perceptual knowledge which provides meaning to the individual's personal world and purpose i.e. 'natural knowledge'. With continued experiential learning for natural knowledge, the spatial memory system is enriched over time.

Natural knowledge is based on the creation of  mind maps... 'mind mapping' or 'map learning'

 The spatial memory system and 'map learning'...necessary for survival located in the brain's hippocampus.  New information is rapidly processed in the 'spatial memory system'which drives the brain's innate search for meaning and is constantly monitoring and comparing the present with past surroundings and experiences... The spatial memory system allows for the instant memory of experienceand is enriched aver time..  Enhancement of the capacity for learning is a function of the development of the human organ of learning i.e. the 'brain'. Processing of information involves organization, analysis, integration and evaluation i.e. 'thinking skills' or 'thinking'.  Learning is a natural process which is driven by the instinctive need to search for meaning in the complexity of environmental stimuli i.e. learning from experience or 'experiential learning'. emotions... The brain's pattern seeking capacity, hence its learning ability and its ability to think is influenced by its affective states or 'emotions'.

The acquisition of natural knowledge involves the creation and testing of interactive relationships in mental space i.e. 'spatial maps'. A spatial map is a pictorial representation of ideas and how they are related to each other i.e. 'mental map' or 'mind map'. In the creation of mind maps the mind focuses on a unifying idea or 'theme'. Themes are the organizers of meaning in the creative process of 'mind mapping' i.e. 'map learning'. Map learning is a creative process which involves the use of unifying themes in order to understand relationships. Memorization or learning as 'conditoning' is utilised as part of the creative process. As a creative process map learning is a source of joy and excitement and allows for intellectual freedom. In the context of freedom the 'mindmapping technique' is a powerful way to stimulate the brain to understand relationships and generate new ideas. Map learning is an efficient and effective use of the brain depends on its harmonious functioning and its potential for engaging a wide range of neurons in different areas. The brain is capable of conceptual thinking with little stress on any specific group of 'nerve cells' or 'neurons'.

 Education can be upgraded by teaching which is based on the recognition of the power of the brain's spatial memory system for creative learning of content in context i.e. 'map learning'. Material to be learned must be related to material already learned.

Teaching methodologies for educators of natural knowledge: Provide opportunities for learners to see global relationships, to make connections, to extract meaningful patterns. The function of the teacher is to facilitate learning by organizing educational experiences through a process of 'orchestrated immersion.' The learner must experience 'immersion' in an orchestrated educational environment.

Teaching for map learning...'thematic teaching' The most effective learning experiences are connected with real life experience which involves the functioning of the hippocampus. Teaching to the hippocampus is teaching for map learning... 'thematic teaching'. Methodologies of thematic teaching teach according are based on the natural function of the brain make meaning or 'learn'... They teach to the brain as a meaning-maker with its own rules for learning based on physiological 'brain functions' i.e. 'brain-based learning'. The brain has the innate capacity to detect patterns and see connections - to construct mental maps - in the context of specific life experience. The importance of content in context is the basis for thematic teaching. Specific content - items, events, concepts, issues, topics, subjects etc. - are studied within the context of organizing themes. New content is presented in its appropriate context... 'embedded' in previously learned experience. Material to be learned is related to material already learned ('embeddedness'). In order to facilitate understanding of different subject areas the boundaries between them are crossed. Learners are encouraged to be actively involved with their own learning and in this way they make efficient use of the brain's natural capacity to make connections.

Importance of appropriate socialisation: teacher is a 'facilitator of learning' Natural learning is enhanced when integrated with social interaction of real life experience.    Classroom learning experiences are meaningful when they are connected with real life experience and so provide content in meaningful context... when they are based on the learner's active engagement in communication and collaboration with others... when they utilise methods of cooperative learning and real life activities such as field trips, record taking, problem solving, drama, discussions, projects, talks and presentations. Teaching methodologies are effective when they are based on the practice of person-centered teaching in a growth promoting climate which is emotionally supportive and intellectually challenging... when they aim to orchestrate complex learning experiences or 'lessons' with the appropriate use of 'lesson plans'. Meaningful  'lessons' stimulate learner motivation by facilitating map learning and the understanding of concepts in terms of unifying themes, patterns and connections in a global perception of reality i.e. 'holistic perception'. In  the holistic paradigm of education, the teacher's role is defined in terms of the facilitation of learning i.e. 'facilitator of learning'.

      The brain evaluates environmental stimuli The brain's evaluation of the environment determines the individual's behaviour. Depending on the accuracy of evaluation  behaviour is adaptive or non-adaptive. The brain's capacity to integrate complex environmental stimuli results in quick and effective thinking and adaptive behaviour. It consciously responds to stimuli in the field of focused attention and subconsciously to peripheral stimuli. Purposeful adaptation to a changing environment depends on adaptive decision making. The brain's innate drive to search for meaning in the environment is the driving force behind the highly developed mental processes of learning and memory. Derived from the brain's innate drive to search for meaning in a complex environment, the brain's 'time-binding' function of learning and memory depends on its ability to process complex information. Effective learning from experience results in adaptive changes of behavior. Brain functions which result in effective learning produce adaptive behaviour. Brain functions which produce non-effective thinking produce non-adaptive behavior. In its search for meaning in a complex environment... the brain responds automatically to the complexity of stimuli... to the complexity in which it is immersed. The human aspects of human behavior and human nature are derived from the brain's ability to learn and to recall what is learned i.e 'memory'. Derived from the brain's innate drive to search for meaning in a complex environment, The brain's innate drive to search for meaning in the environment provides the driving force behind the highly developed mental processes of learning and memory. Effective learning from experience results in adaptive changes of behavior. In its attempt to process new information from complex sensory input, the brain automatically recalls previously stored programs and formulates new programs. It formulates 'programs' which provide it with crucial information about the surroundings. Learning and memory are most effective when facts and skills are 'embedded' in the natural spatial memory and in the context of real life experiences. New learning experiences are naturally 'embedded' in previous learning experiences. Example is the learning of native language. Learning of language occurs by way of internal mental process and social interaction. Social interaction is crucial to effective learning.

 Learning and evolution of the brain The brain is a product of human evolution through natural selection. In the course of human evolution, survival of the human organism depends on the natural selection of brain functions which enable the individual to adapt to the environment. Behavioral adaptation is the basis for survival. Human adaptive behaviour depends on the brain's capacity to make decisions. Adaptive decision making depends on the organism's ability to process complex information. Processing complex information depends on the capacity to derive meaning from experience i.e. to 'learn'. Learning is a natural function of the brain... proper functioning of the brain. The brain is an organ of learning, adapted for the survival of the species. The function of the brain is to search for meaning in the complexity of the environment in which it is immersed. In the instinctive drive to derive meaning from a complex environment, the brain responds automatically to the complexity of environmental stimuli. The brain processes many incoming stimuli simultaneously - those which deal with body functioning and health maintenance at the same time as those which deal with the intellect and the emotions. It consciously focuses on a set of environmental stimuli and responds to stimuli in the field of focused attention. It responds subconsciously to peripheral stimuli. It rapidly processes information in the context of peripheral stmuli and encodes the information in the short term memory for storage in the long term memory. Processing of information involves organization, analysis, integration and evaluation i.e. 'thinking skills' or 'thinking'. Thinking is a function of the ability to process complex information from a multifaceted environment. The learning function of the brain is a natural function which is affected by physiological as well as environmental factors Effective learning depends on the brain's capacity to seek patterns and detect them as quickly as possible. The brain is a pattern detector. The brain's pattern seeking capacity... by the nature of the peripheral stimuli in the environment - the physical, social, cultural and emotional environments.. Learning is a natural process which is driven by the instinctive need to search for meaning in the complexity of environmental stimuli i.e. learning from experience or 'experiential learning'. Experiential learning requires effective thinking.

Human ability for tool making... The human organism is the only animal which uses tools with foresight - makes tools for future use.... tools which can be used and discarded at will... more convenient and more adaptable to different environments. ...with the use of tools, the human organism can adapt to living under the special conditions of a particular environment. As extracorporeal equipment, the human ability to make tools can be adjusted to many different operations in many different environments. The successful use of tools depends on the ability to learn. Thus survival for the human species depends on the learning function of the brain. Any tool is an embodiment of 'science'...practical application of observed, remembered, compared, and collected experiments and experiences. The skill to make the tool has been acquired by numerous observations ...numerous tials and errors... by recollection and by experiment. In human evolution, when the human organism gained upright posture, the forefeet were relieved of the function of carrying the weight of the body. Relieved of the burden of carrying the body, the forefeet developed into hands - delicate instruments capable of an amazing variety of subtle and accurate movements. The hands evolved with opposable thumb and prehensile fingers capable of subtle and accurate movements making it possible to manipulate objects. To control the hands and to link them up with impressions from outside received by the eye and other sense organs we have become possessed of a peculiarly complicated nervous system and an exceptionally big and complicated brain. The simultaneous development of a complicated nervous system made it possible to control the movements of the hands in response to impressions received by the eyes.

To control the hands and to link them up with impressions from outside received by the eye and other sense organs we have become possessed of a peculiarly complicated nervous system and an exceptionally big and complicated brain. The simultaneous development of a complicated nervous system made it possible to control the movements of the hands in response to impressions received by the eyes.

Tool making was the first applied 'science'. With the ability to make the tools required for living, the human species could adapt to many different environments which he could change to suit his own purposes. At the same time it was necessary to have the biological equipment for learning how to make and use the equipment. The evolution of the brain as an organ for learning was the physiological equipment which ensured the survival of the human species. With the human brain as the specialized physiological organ for surival, the human species depends on the physiological functions of the brain to make the equipment which was required for living in different environments - tools, weapons, clothing, shelter and the sense of solidarity (universal brotherly love) with other members of the species for work and for defense from natural dangers (consciwence...morality.... ...the individual infant is not left to accumulate in its own person the requisite experience or itself have to make all the trials and mistakes...a baby does not need to inherit at birth a physical mechanism or nerve-paths stamped in the germ-plasm of the race and predisposing it to make automatically and instinctively the appropriate bodily movements.

 The young human organism does not need to accumulate in its own person all the experience or all the trials and mistakes which came before the successful application of a given tool...Instead, each human organism is born heir to a social tradition. In accordance with the social traition which it inherits, the human organism needs to learn how to use the equipment which is the expression of the social tradition which it has inherited. As the product of a social animal, the tool is a social product. Its parents and elders will teach it how to make and use equipment in accordance with the experience gathered by ancestral generations. And the equipment it uses is itself just a concrete expression of this social tradition. A human infant is peculiarly helpless, and its helplessness lasts longer than with the young of other animals. The physical counterpart of learning is the storing of impressions and the building up of connections between the various nerve-centers in the brain (modify)

Meanwhile the brain must keep on growing. To allow of such growth the skull-bones protecting the infant's brain remain very loosely joined together; only slowly do the junctions (or sutures) knit up. While the brain is thus unprotected it is very vulnerable. Helpless infancy is prolonged by these interrelated causes... survival of the species depends on at least one social group keeping together for several years until the infants are reared. In the human species, the natural family of parents and children is a more stable and durable association than among species whose young mature faster. In practice, however, human families seem generally to live together in larger societies comparable to the herds and packs of gregarious animals. Indeed man is to some extent a gregarious animal. In human, as in animal, societies the older generations transmit by example to the younger the collective experiences accumulated by the group - what they in turn have learned in like fashion from their elders and parents. Animal education can all be done by example; For human infants who have so much to learn the imitative method would be fatally slow. In human societies instruction is by precept as well as by example. Human societies have gradually devised tools for communication between their members. In so doing they have brought forth a new sort of equipment which can conveniently be labelled 'spiritual' - ethics... morality as spiritual equipment

 The brain learns in an emotional context: influence of emotions  The brain's pattern seeking capacity, hence its learning ability and its ability to think is influenced by its affective states or 'emotions'. Complex environmental stimuli are rapidly processed in their emotional context. The learning process involves the combined functioning of the intellect, the emotions and creative capacities. Effective learning depends on the functional integration of the brain's cognitive and emotional states. The learning process involves the combined functioning of the intellect, the emotions and creative capacities. Learning is also enhanced by an alternation of different states of consciousness - rational waking state, creative state, meditative state, dream state, etc. The different states of consciousness are influenced by physical wellbeing and emotions. In each state a different part of the brain is dominant, but the brain functions as a whole. The brain's capacity for learning 'learning function'... is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat. Under perceived threat, connections in the brain are interrupted and the learning functions are 'downshifted.' A supportive environment and the absence of threat stimulate the formation of new prosters. 

Learning and 'proster theory'...    the brain thrives on complexity and learns by programs... program structures or 'prosters'. 'Proster' is a neologism ...from Greek 'neo' for 'new' and 'logos' for 'word'... a new word created to represent a new concept... free of any old connotations. The word 'proster' is derived from a compression of 'program structure'. According to the proster theory, the human brain works by programs. ....'program structures' or 'prosters'. Prosters are collections of stored programs related to a particular pattern. Effective learning takes place when the external sensory input stimulates the brain to call up the greatest number of appropriate programs, to expand an already existing program and to develop new programs. In order to make sense of new experience, the brain attempts to categorize and pattern new information with what is already stored. This is done at a very high rate of speed. Learning is enhanced by physiological and environmental factors connected with the organism's state of wholeness or 'health'. Optimal health or 'wellness' results in optimal learning or 'optimalearning'.

wholistic functioning of the brain: cerebral hemispheres... adaptive function of 'intelligence' - cognitive 'skills', thinking...planning for intelligent  action learning, memory... ...

 Influence of physical well-being on learning... link between learning and holistic health or 'wellness'.

Learning is enhanced by an alternation of different states of consciousness - rational waking state, creative state, meditative state, dream state, etc. The different states of consciousness are influenced by physical wellbeing and emotions.  

 Implications for education...  As a physiological process, learning is affected by physiological and environmental factors including nutrition, stress, mental state, experiences and circumstances.  A pedagogy for brain-based learning incorporates various topics which deal with physiological factors affecting the learning capacity such as stress management, nutrition, exercise, personal health etc.  

  Independent activities are integrating experiences. They integrate life experiences into a unified whole. ...real learning experience provides one with opportunities to integrate life experiences.  

...perceive other peoples' 'humanness' within a cultural context.. all human beings have the potential for respecting the humanity of all other human beings... all children can become the people who will respect the humanity of all other people. Caring for our children is our responsibility. It is a challenge to participate in their growth and development to mature human beings...  we can learn from our children what it is to be 'human'.                

 The aim of artificial intelligence research is to determine the underlying mechanism of learning with the use of computers to analyse simulations of neural networks of the brain. Neural networks are represented by networks of artificial neurons created to mimic the brain's learning processes. First the essential features of neurons and their interconnections are deduced. On the basis of the theoretical features and interconnections, the neural networks are created and constructed. A computer is then programmed to simulate the features. This technique has enabled researchers to test various 

theories on how the brain processes information. Their models are beginning to reveal the mechanism of the learning process.

 Attempts have been made to determine the underlying mechanism of learning in the field of artifical intelligence. Computers are used to analyse simulations of neural networks of the brain. Networks of artificial neurons are created to mimic neural networks involved in the brain's learning processes. First the essential features of neurons and their interconnections are theoretically deduced. On this basis, the neural networks are created and constructed. A computer is then programmed to simulate the features. With this technique researchers have been able to test various theories on how the brain processes information. Their models are beginning to reveal the mechanism of the learning process.

LEARNING AND CONSCIOUSNESS      Effective learning is enhanced by an alternation of different states of arousal which are closely linked to states of consciousness: the rational waking state - being functional and effective in the world - creative state, meditative state, dream state, and so on. In each state of consciousness, a different part of the brain is dominant, but the brain functions as a whole. The different states of consciousness are influenced by physical wellbeing and emotions.

 references:

Leslie Hart. Learning and the Brain

Eric R. Kandel and Robert D. Hawkins "The Biological Basis of Learning and Individuality" Scientific American September 1992 79-86   

 Accelerated method is based on the release of stress from the fear of making mistakes which is the real impediment to learning ...The stress from fear of making mistakes sets up mental blocks which impede learning and the recall of information. Significant learning is acquired through experience ... learning is facilitated with responsible participation in the learning process. Principles for facilitation of learning: the human organism has a natural potentiality for learning, significant learning takes place when the subject matter is perceived by the student as having relevance for his own purposes;

The most socially useful learning is learning how to learn. Learning results from a continuing openness to experience and the continued incorporation into oneself of the process of change. Real knowledge is not static, unchanging and quantitatively measureable. On the contrary, it is dynamic and in constant flux. When knowledge is perceived in quantitative terms and treated like a status symbol, it becomes meaningless. link: methods of teaching Traditional education focuses on the mechanics of learning factual knowledge and emphasizes the methods of teaching. In the paradigm of traditional education, the goals of education have been shaped in the framework of the scientific paradigm and worldview of reductionist science. In the context of reductionist science, the reality of 'being human' is defined in terms of 'objective' science which does not recognize the reality of the human inner life. Scientific methodology is based on the assumption that the process of observation does not involve the participation of the observer and that the observer can objectively 'observe' reality without participating in the process of observation. The notion of objective observation with complete detachment of the observer is of great significance in the Western tradition. The quality of detachment from the objective world is the origin of the concept of individuality and individual freedom. The price has been high - a loss of the sense of 'oneness' with the universe, a loss of the wholistic perspective and a sense of alienation from nature of the outer world and even a sense of alienation from the inner world of human nature. In the extreme form of detachment, the individual treats himself and others as objects. Educational methodology formulated within the context of this worldview also fails to recognize the scientific reality of the human inner life. The perception of the learning process has been shaped by the scientific process of logical empiricism. Scientific methodology with its bias towards completely 'objective' knowledge has directly influenced the educational methodology. The value of knowledge has been measured in terms of its objectives and its usefulness. Pedagogocal principles have been formulated on the basis of the assumption that the learner is detached in the learning process. The aims of education have been formulated on the basis of the assumption that cognitive knowledge can only be measured with 'objective' testing methods. The 'objectives' of classwork and coursework have been described in terms of the acquisition and measurement of 'objective' cognitive knowledge which can only be measured with the use of test-taking skills and test performance. Effective learning is derived from meaningful experience. Meaningful learning experiences are perceived as part of a larger pattern which is challenging. Naturally stimulated by challenge, learning is naturally driven based on the functioning of the brain. Successful teaching methods recognize and encourage the learning process as a natural phenomenon. Based on the brain's natural functions and natural potential, they teach to the brain's innate drive to search for meaning in experience. Brain-based methods teach to its natural capacity for organizing information and recognizing patterns and interrelationships. Teaching methods teach to the brain as a pattern detector facilitating its natural capacity for making connections. They teach to the brain's natural capacity to integrate the parts with the whole and to integrate new experience with learned experience. The teacher's function is to facilitate effective and creative learning... learning as the acquisition of knowledge based on the brain's innate, survival oriented drive to make sense of environmental stimuli. The accelerated method of optimal learning is based on the work of Professor Lozanov. Lozanov, G. He takes into account the characteristics of a teacher which are perceived both consciously and unconsciously. Teacher characteristics for optimal learning: the teacher naturally commands respect and admiration by expressing a personal understanding of the subject and its relationship to other subjects and life experiences. Projecting a genuine concern for students, the teacher of integrity generates trust and affection. A teacher with these attributes functions as a magnet with the powerful effect of stimulating students and inviting them to learn. Ivan Barzakov expanded on Lozanov's theory of teaching. His teaching model includes 'brain compatible' features. Barzak Educational Institute in San Francisco for information on Barzakov such as 'Optimalearning (TM) Workshop 1983.' "The teaching model calls for the teacher to 'orchestrate' complex, 'real world' teaching environments. What may appear to be a spontaneous learning environment, is in fact, the result of precise planning. Such planning focuses almost entirely on how the classroom can create 'here and now' experiences for the student, rather than on expected outcomes. The expected outcomes are goals that guide the lesson from pre-exposure to recreation, but they are not the focus of planning.This is important because it virtually eliminates the threat of meeting specified outcomes, and it allows what Barzakov calls 'educative feedback to guide learning.' Both student and teacher look upon learning as an expansion of knowledge similar to Hart's acquisition of prosters and not as the accomplishment of goals to be evaluated and rewarded." The brain's instinctive drive to make sense of environmental stimuli is at the heart of intrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated, the brain is challenged to learn creatively and effectively. In order to maximize optimal learning, the learner needs to be able to make associations and perceive the parts which make up the wholes. The learner needs to be able to 'orchestrate' all his learning experiences. In the natural mental process of 'immersion', each new learning experience becomes embedded in the totality of previous experience. With each new piece of information processed by the brain, associations are made with the rest of the learner's current and past experiences and knowledge. The natural immersion process can be hindered or helped depending on the teaching methods being used. Through the 'immersion process', the student makes an increasing number of associations with other learning experiences. If the immersion process is hindered, fewer associations are made. If the immersion process is helped, more associations are made. Assimilation of information which is processed on the basis of optimal learning is two to three times faster than assimilation based on traditional methods of rote learning. the accelerated method is a natural method based on optimal learning. The acelerated method is based on a natural two step process of learning - first learning to speak the language in a family environment and then analysing the structure of the language in a formal schooling enviroment. With the accelerated language method the student encounters new words and structures in a naturally spontaneous way, initially in oral form and only afterwords in written form. Subsequently, in order to explain the logic of the assimilated language forms, grammatical rules are presented in a practical context. Accelerated learning occurs in a relaxed supportive atmosphere. Students are stimulated are virtually never fatigued The method involves numerous and varied activities.

    LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE IS 'NATURAL EARNING' OR 'EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING'  The convergence of findings from neuroscience and psychology reveal connections   between the physiology of the brain and the psychology of learning behaviour. The idea of the brain as hardwired by genetics is replaced by the knowledge that the brain is constructed not only  before birth but is further shaped by learning from experience or 'experiential learning' Experiential learning is natural learning or 'brain-based learning' ...character change learning which results in intelligence as 'creative intelligence'.

 "One of the most important lessons to derive from brain research is that in a very important sense, all learning is experiential. What we learn depends on the global experience, not just on the manner of presentation. We do not automatically learn enough from our experience. What matters is how experience is used. ...in deliberately teaching for the expansion of natural knowledge, we need both to help students have appropriate experiences and to help them capitalize on the experiences." (Caine Making Connections p.104)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

experiential learning as personal involvement...

learning and personality change...

naturalistic value system...

learning as a natural function of the brain...  the brain learns in an emotional context...

biological basis...   effects of physiological and evironmental factors...

the brain evaluates environmental stimuli...     new information is processed in the spatial memory system...

implications for education...

references...   quotations...

'Significant or 'experiential' learning is learning of personal involvement Experiential learning involves thought and feelings.. the whole person in both his feeling and cognitive aspects is in the learning event. Experiential learning is self-initiated... pervasive... evaluated by the learner and has meaning as its essence. ...

'Education' is futile if it involves the learning of material which has no personal meaning. Learning which does not involve the learner's feelings has no relevance for the whole person and is insignificant. Significant learning involves thought and feelings. Left to his own devices a child learns rapidly and effectively. He learns from experience. Learning with a quality of personal involvement - this is called 'experiential learning.' (Carl Rogers Freedom to Learn  Charles Merrill Publishing Company, Columbus Ohio l969)

 "Every living creature, while it is awake, is in constant interaction with its surroundings. It is engaged in a process of give and take- of doing something to objects around it and receiving back something from them-impressions, stimuli. This process of interacting constitutes the framework of experience." (John Dewey. How We Think: A Restatement of the relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company , 1933 p. 36)

 Learning and personality or 'character' change:

 "So-called learning theory in this country has based itself almost entirely on deficit-motivation with goal objects usually external to the organism, i.e. learning the best way to satisfy a need. For this reason, among others, our psychology of learning is a limited body of knowledge, useful only in small areas of life and of real interest only to other 'learning theorists'. This is of little help in solving the problem of growth and self-actualization. Here the techniques of repeatedly acquiring from the outside world satisfactions of motivational deficiencies are much less needed. Associative learning and canalizations give way to more perceptual learning.. to the increase of insight and understanding, to knowledge of self and to the steady growth of personality, i.e. increased synergy, integration and inner consistency. Change becomes much less an acquisition of habits or associations one by one, and much more a total change of the total person, i.e. a new person rather than the same person with some habits added like new external possessions. This kind of character-change-learning means changing a very complex, highly integrated , holistic organism, which in turn means that many impacts will make no change at all because more and moresuch impacts wqill be rejected as the person more stable and more autonomous. The most important learning experiences reported to me by my subjects were very frequently single life experiences such as tragedies, deaths, traumata, conversiions, and sudden insights, which forced change in the life-outlook of the person and consequently in everything that he did. ....

To the extent that growth consists in peeling away inhibitions and constraints and then permitting the person to 'be himself' to emit behaviour 'radiantly' as it were - rather than to repeat it, to allow his inner nature to express itself, to this extent the behaviour of self-actualizers is unlearned, created and released rather than acquired, expressive rather than coping." (See "Motivation and Personality")

Experiential learning the basis of a naturalistic value system:

"It is the free choices of such actualising people (in those situations where real choices are possible from among a variety of possibilities) that I claim be descriptively studies as a naturalistic value suystem with which the hopes of the observer absolutely have nohing to do i.e. it is 'scientific'. I do not say 'he ought to choose this or that' but only 'healthy people, permitted top choose freely, are served to choose this or that'.  This is like asking 'what are the values of the best human beings?' rather than ' 'what should be their values.?', or 'what ought they be?' Furthermore I think these findings can be generalised to most of the human species because it looks to me (and to others) as if most people (perhaps all) tend toward self-actualisation (This is seen most clearly in the experiences in psychotherapy especially of the uncovering sort) and as if in principle at least, most people are capable of self-actualisation." (Maslow Toward a Psychology of Being. l58)

Conclusions...

1. "One conclusion from all these free-choice experiments, from developments in dynamic motivation theory and from examination of psychotherapy, is a very revolutionary one, namely that our deepest needs are not, in themselves, dangerous or evel or bad. This opens up the prospects of resolving the splits within the person between Apollonian and Dionysian, classical and romantic, scientific and poetic, betwen reason and impulse, work and play, verbal and preverbal, maturity and childlikeness, masculine and feminine, growth and regression.

 2. The main social parallel to this change in our philosophy of human nature is the rapidly growing tendency to perceive the culture as an instrument of need-gratification as well as of frustration and control. We can now reject the almost universal mistake of believing that the interests of the individual and of society are of necessity mutually exclusive and antagonistyic, or that civilisation is primarily a mechanism for controlling and policing human instinctoid impulses  (see Marcuse, H. "Eros and Civilization." Beacon, l955) All these age-old axioms are swept away by the new possibility of defining the main function of a healthy culture as the fostering of universal self-actualisation "(l59)

3.  "In healthy people only is there a good correlation between subjective delight in the experience, impulse to the experience, or wish for it, and 'basic need' for the experience ('it's good for him in the long run). Only such people uniformly yearn for what is good for them and for others, and then are able to wholeheartedly to enjoy it, and approve of it. For such people virtue is its own reward in the sense of being enjoyed in itself. They spontaneously tend to do right because thatis what they want to do, what they need to do, what they enjoy, what they approve of doing, and what they continue to enjoy."(l59)

 "So far as philosophical theory is concerned, many historical dilemmas and contradictions are resolved by this finding."

 "Creativeness, spontaneity, self-hood, authenticity, caring for others, being able to love, yearning for truth are embryonic potentialities belonging to his species-membership as much as his arms and legs and brain and eyes. This is not a contradiction to the data already amassed which show clearlty that living in a family and in a culture are abslutelynecessary to actualize these psychologiical potentials that define humanness. (l60-l61) A teacher or a culture....permits, fosters, helps and encourages to actualization what already exists in the embryo. The culture is sun, food and water. The child is the seed". (Maslow Toward a Psychology of Being 160)

 Learning is a natural function of the human brain: evolutionary perspective (learning and evolution of the human brain)

Learning is a highly developed mental function which is the natural outcome of evolution by natural selection. Enhancement of the capacity for learning is a function of the development of the human organ of learning i.e. 'brain'. The brain is a product of human evolution through natural selection. In the course of human evolution, survival of the human organism depends on the natural selection of 'brain functions' which enable the individual to adapt to the environment. Behavioral adaptation is the basis for survival. Human adaptive behaviour depends on the brain's capacity to make decisions. Adaptive decision making depends on the organism's ability to process complex information. Processing complex information depends on the capacity to derive meaning from experience or 'learn'.

 Learning as making meaning is a natural function of the brain as meaning maker... proper functioning of the brain. The brain is an organ of learning, adapted for the survival of the species.

 The function of the brain is to search for meaning in the complexity of the environment in which it is immersed. In the instinctive drive to derive meaning from a complex environment, the brain responds automatically to the complexity of environmental stimuli. The brain processes many incoming stimuli simultaneously - those which deal with body functioning and health maintenance at the same time as those which deal with the intellect and the emotions. It consciously focuses on a set of environmental stimuli and responds to stimuli in the field of focused attention. It responds subconsciously to peripheral stimuli. It rapidly processes information in the context of peripheral stmuli and encodes the information in the short term memory for storage in the long term memory. Processing of information involves organization, analysis, integration and evaluation i.e. 'thinking skills' or 'thinking'. Thinking is a function of the ability to process complex information from a multifaceted environment.

Enhancement of the capacity for learning is a function of the development of the human organ of learning i.e. the 'brain'.  Learning is a natural process which is driven by the instinctive need to search for meaning in the complexity of environmental stimuli i.e. learning from experience or 'experiential learning'.

 Effects of physiological and environmental factors The learning function of the brain is a natural function which is affected by physiological as well as environmental factors Effective learning depends on the brain's capacity to seek patterns and detect them as quickly as possible. The brain is a pattern detector. The brain's pattern seeking capacity... by the nature of the peripheral stimuli in the environment - the physical, social, cultural and emotional environments.. Learning is a natural process which is driven by the instinctive need to search for meaning in the complexity of environmental stimuli i.e. learning from experience or 'experiential learning'. Experiential learning requires effective thinking.

The brain learns in an emotional context: influence of emotions The brain's pattern seeking capacity, hence its learning ability and its ability to think is influenced by its affective states or 'emotions'. Complex environmental stimuli are rapidly processed in their emotional context. The learning process involves the combined functioning of the intellect, the emotions and creative capacities. Effective learning depends on the functional integration of the brain's cognitive and emotional states. The learning process involves the combined functioning of the intellect, the emotions and creative capacities. Learning is also enhanced by an alternation of different states of consciousness - rational waking state, creative state, meditative state, dream state, etc. The different states of consciousness are influenced by physical wellbeing and emotions. In each state a different part of the brain is dominant, but the brain functions as a whole. The brain's capacity for learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.

 The brain evaluates environmental stimuli The brain's evaluation of the environment determines the individual's behaviour. Depending on the accuracy of the brain's evaluation of the environment, the individual's subsequent behaviour is adaptive or non-adaptive. The brain's capacity to integrate complex environmental stimuli results in effective thinking and adaptive behaviour. Quick and effective thinking results in the individual's adaptive behavior. It consciously responds to stimuli in the field of focused attention and subconsciously to peripheral stimuli. In order to make a quick decision for purposeful adaptation to a changing environment (adaptive decision making) depends on the organism's The brain's innate drive to search for meaning in the environment is the driving force behind the highly developed mental processes of learning and memory. Derived from the brain's innate drive to search for meaning in a complex environment, the brain's 'time-binding' function of learning and memory depends on its ability to process complex information. Effective learning from experience results in adaptive changes of behavior.

 Brain functions which result in effective learning produce adaptive behaviour and subsequent survival.

 Brain functions which produce non-effective thinking produce non-adaptive behavior. In its search for meaning in a complex environment... the brain responds automatically to the complexity of stimuli... to the complexity in which it is immersed. The human aspects of human behavior and human nature are derived from the brain's ability to learn and to recall what is learned i.e 'memory'. Derived from the brain's innate drive to search for meaning in a complex environment, The brain's innate drive to search for meaning in the environment provides the driving force behind the highly developed mental processes of learning and memory. Effective learning from experience results in adaptive changes of behavior. In its attempt to process new information from complex sensory input, the brain automatically recalls previously stored programs and formulates new programs. It formulates 'programs' which provide it with crucial information about the surroundings. Learning and memory are most effective when facts and skills are 'embedded' in the natural spatial memory and in the context of real life experiences. New learning experiences are naturally 'embedded' in previous learning experiences. Example is the learning of native language. Learning of language occurs by way of internal mental process and social interaction. Social interaction is crucial to effective learning.

Intelligence as a function of experience

In general the findings in brain research indicate that effective learning results from the wholistic response of the whole brain to incoming stimuli.

 "The research of the neuroscientists and psychobiologists, together with the knowledge and intuition of educators and psychologists, points to the need for a more deliberate involvement of the whole brain in the process of learning." (Caine Making Connections p.7)

theme: evolutionary significance of learning and memory. As natural functions of the brain, the processes of learning and memory did not develop by accident; they developed because they were of survival value.

What is learning? For the convenience of argument, it is necessary to distinguish between learning as the acquisition of new behavioural responses and 'memory' as the retention and recall of responses which have been learned. The broad definition of 'learning' is conceived in terms of changes of behaviour which result from experience and thus includes the 'retention of learning' or 'memory'.

Biological basis of experiential learning as 'natural learning'

Experiential learning involves stimuli which are strong enough to establish new synaptic connections between neurons in the cortex Knowledge of the role of stimulation on synapse modification is directly related to educational methodology.The effectiveness of synapses is modified or altered by experience. In experiences of learning the stimulation of nerve impulses at the synapse enhances the influence of neurons on each other and causes new synapses to form and grow... 'experiential learning'. Experiential learning as 'successful learning' is a function of synaptic activity which involves stimuli strong enough to establish new synaptic connections between the neurons in the cortex of the brain....  'neuroplasticity'. When new synaptic connections are established then changes are brought about in the structure of existing nerve networks and nerve circuits and learning results.

  "Learning occurs as a result of changing the effectiveness of synapses so that their influence on other neurons also changes... Learning is a function of the effectiveness of synapses to propagate signals and initiate new signals along connecting neurons. Learning and experience change the structure of the neural networks." (Geoffrey Hinton, "How Neural Networks Learn from Experience," Scientific American, 267:3, September 1992, 145.)

 Wholistic brain-based learning for natural knowledge

The collaboration between body and brain i.e. 'bodybrain' concept... emotion creates the bridge or 'nexus' betwen mind and body  Emotion is the gatekeeper to learning (emotion molecules... 'endorphins'...)

There is a scientific basis to the popular wisdom about 'gut feelings'.... new scientific understanding of the power of the mind and 'feelings' to affect health and well being. Learning is a body-brain partnership.

Informational substances and chemical communication system among the cells of the body

Neurotransmitters responsible for the synaptic leap beween neurons are but one category of 'informational substances' involved in the learning process. They may constitute only 2% of neuronal communication in the brain. There is are other categories of various transmitters, peptides, hormones and protein ligands which travel via bloodstream, endocrine system, neurological, gastrointestinal and immune systems and then attach to receptors on cells throughout the body.  The largest category of informational substances are peptides produced in all body cells as well as brain cells. They all have receptors in the brain qualifying them as 'neuropeptides'.

In locations where information from the sense eners the nervous system (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, fingertips) there are high concentrations of receptors for information substances. These so-called 'nodal points' can be accessed by almost all neuropeptides which filter the input of the senses and selecting the stimuli to be further processed by the brain. In this way the emotions (from the brain) and the senses are connected in a two-way network in which each can influence the other.   

Potential threats to safety or survival are detected unconsciously through the activity of the amygdala which gauges the emotional content of sensory data (LeDoux)...the brain can override rational thought  and initiate a reflexive response ('fight or flight') which can be alleviated with bodily processes such as slow breathing etc.

Intelligence as a function of experience

New experience physically changes the brain ('neuroplasticity') neurons sprout new branches or 'denrites'...thus inceasing communication points the 'synapses'. The synaptic leap between the axon of one neuron and a dendrite of another is the physical basis or 'trace' of learning and memory. Learning has occurred when a particular neuronal pathway is used repeatedly becoming  more and more efficient. The findings of neuroscientists (see Marion Diamond experiments) confirm the importance of experience in the development of observed intelligence through development of dendrites.   

Personal meaning: the key to memory

Pathway of information... sensory stimuli reach neurons in appropriate sensory cortex (visual, auditory etc.) Sensations are relayed through the thalamus and then to the association area of the neocortex where they are reassembled into recognizable sensations. Almot simultaneously the information is sent to the amygdala which guages the emotional content and the frontal cortex which evaluates content. In this way the brain constructs meaning or 'learns'. f the emotional context is emotionally important then powerful memories are created. Long-term memories are not formed in the absence of personal meaning.

Opiate receptors unlock cells in the brain so that opiates, including the body's natural opiates, can enter. Neuropeptides are responsible for emotions - the nexus between mind and body. The information molecules which distribute information to cells of the body - rmotions can create or destroy health. Hippocampus - part of the limbic system - is the gateway to the emotional experience.

 The human capacities for experiential richness are teachable. It is possible to design an educational program around the instinctive needs of 'subjective biology', the metaneeds, as well as the physiological and basic psychological needs.

Implications for education The only goal for education that makes sense in the modern world is one that is based on a reliance on process rather than upon static knowledge... the facilitation of significant learning or experiential learning.

 Teacher as facilitator: The facilitation of significant (experiential) learning depends on certain attitudinal qualities in the personal relationship between the facilitator and the learner... the most important attitude is 'genuineness,' congruency - to be real about oneself. The congruent personality is a vital person, with convictions... authentic, expressing feelings of enthusiasm, boredom, anger, sensitivity, sympathy - accepting these feelings as his own without needing to impose them on the learner... able to share feelings of anger and frustration as well as feelings of sweetness and light. Another important attitude is one of 'empathic understanding' and profound trust of the learner...'prizing' the learner - feelings, opinions, his person - caring without being possessive. One's prizing of the learner is an operational expression of one's essential confidence and trust of the human organism. principles for facilitation of learning: human beings have a natural potentiality for learning, significant learning takes place when the subject matter is perceived by the student as having relevance for his own purposes.

 "We never educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment. Whether we permit chance environments to do the work or whether we design environmnets for the purpose makes a great deal of difference. And any environment is a chance environment so far as its educative influence is concerned unless it has been deliberately regulated with reference to its educative effect." (Dewey Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education New York : The Free Press 1966

 

 Freud has contributed to the global crisis with his pessimistic picture of human beings as creatures whose primary motivating forces are bestial instincts.

Freud (1856 -1939) and the discovery of the unconscious: implications for learning theory  Significance of Freud's work to educational theory: Freud's greatest contribution was his attempt to formulate a scientific psychology. His discovery of the emotional nature of unconscious motivations is significant for educational theory. The human organism is a social organism. It makes no sense to suggest that human nature is naturally antisocial - the basic assumption upon which is based the work of Freud.   Sigmund Freud reintroduced the concept of the unconscious into Western culture,

"Freud's scientific discoveries made us aware of the unconscious level of the human mind."(Forem)

"One of Freud's great contributions to psychology was his realization that the unconscious motivations are emotional in nature." (Karen Horney. New Ways in Psychoanalysis

  Freud was born in 1856 in Moravia, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known until recently as Czechoslovakia. His home was Vienna where he studied and practiced medecine until 1938 when Austria was annexed by the Nazis. The Nazi annexation of Austria sent him into exile in London where he died in in 1939.

Freud lived at a time in which the prevailing trend of thought was to ascribe the peculiarities of one's culture to human nature in general. In keeping with the general thinking of his time,

 Freud was ignorant of today's knowledge of anthropology and sociology and so was unaware of the effect of cultural forces on the psyche. In keeping with the general thinking of his time, he had a pessimistic outlook on human nature and accepted the traditional belief in its basic 'moral depravity or 'evil' he accepted the traditional belief that there is a dichotomy between the human organism and society - a belief which was based on the assumption that the roots of human nature are evil and that the human individualis naturally antisocial with so-called 'antisocial instincts' of instinctive sexuality or libido.... that these are deflected or 'sublimated' to symbolic ends and the result is human 'civilisation'. His system of human psychology was based on this premise. He believed that love is sublimated sexuality and that any kind of affection was a sublimated expression of libidinal desires. He even believed that the individual's healthy striving toward self-realisation was an expression of 'narcissistic libido'. He claimed that the core of human nature is made up of an obscure 'id' which demands the satisfaction of the antisocial instincts and their immediate satisfaction would lead to conflicts with the external world and ultimately to extinction. He was concerned with what he thought was the question of great theoretical importance - 'when and how it is ever possible for the pleasure principle to be overcome?'.  

He postulated an inverse relationship between the satisfaction of human antisocial instincts and the level of cultural attainment: the greater the suppression of instincts, the more elaborate the civilization but also the greater the incidence of so-called  'neurosis'; the less the suppression of antisocial instincts, the less civilization but also the lower the incidence of neurosis.

 He had no clear vision of the constructive forces of human nature and denied their authenticity. He claimed that in order to understand the human personality, one must take into account the emotional drives or forces which he claimed 'were often in conflict'. Freud's mechanistic and dualistic thinking produced his pessimistic outlook on the human personality and human nature. His pessimistic view of human nature led to the fallacious notion that the function of society is to check and restrain the antisocial instincts... .. that civilization is a result of the deflection of the sex-impulse to symbolic ends - a process which he called 'sublimation'...  that basic human nature would only lead to destruction if it were released and it was therefore urgent to control the beast within by means of a hypothetical 'super-ego'. He likened the human mind to a state in which a destructive mob has to be held down forcibly by a superior class.  "If we grant this assumption, it follows that there must exist an inverse relationship in any society between the satisfaction of man's drives and his level of cultural attainment, such that the more suppression the more elaborate the culture and the greater the incidence of neurosis, and the less suppression the less neurosis but also the less  Freud believed that the function of any society is to check and restrain the antisocial instincts. He believed that civilization is a result of the deflection of the antisocial instincts of the libido to symbolic ends - 'sublimation'civilization." (Freud)

"Freud had a pessimistic outlook on human nature.... He had no clear vision of constructive forces in man... he denied their authenticity." (Horney, Karen, M.D. Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization p. 377).

   Brown, J.A.C. Freud and the Post-Freudians.1964

Freud's mechanistic model of the psyche... 'dynamic theory of personality' or 'scientific psychology' The 'mind-body problem' is reflected in many schools of psychology, most notably in the psychologies of Freud who defined self-knowledge in terms of the separate existence of a psychological 'ego' and a physical body. Freud defined the human psyche in terms of the separate existence of the 'id', the 'ego' and the 'superego'. The mind-matter dualism became an obstacle to progress in psychology because it placed mental phenomena of consciousness - ncluding moral consciousness or 'conscience' - outside of ordinary physical reality and thus outside of the domain of the natural sciences.  

His theory of personality made us aware of the unconscious level of the human 'mind' and brought to light previously unknown features of human development. We now know that there is no such thing as a universal normal psychology. Behavior which is regarded as neurotic in one culture may be considered quite normal in another. What constitutes normality or abnormality can only be decided when we consider the culture within which the individual is functioning.

Freud studied the neuroses of individuals living in the context of his own time and culture and discovered how childhood experiences influence the formation of the adult character. He had patients talk freely using a psychoanalytic technique known as 'free association' and discovered that neuroses were derived from powerful emotional forces related to traumatic and abusive childhood experiences...  Other neuroses were related to unconscious and repressed desires.  He discovered that patterns of adaptation established in the early years of childhood can persist in the adult personality even if they were inadequate and inappropriate to cope with adult 's life situation.  He demonstrated the influence of the infantile character in the formation of the adult character. When he discovered that patients were able to relieve their neuroses by releasing their own pent-up emotions, he assumed that the mental conflicts of the neurotic were fundamental conflicts of human nature.

Freud's discovery of the emotional nature of unconscious motivations was one of his great contributions to psychology. The discovery led to his formulation of an important postulate which formed the basis of his 'dynamic theory of personality'. Freud postulated that an individual's actions and behaviours are based on motivations which lie in emotional forces on the unconscious level of the mind.

From this he postulated that human behaviours are determined by unconscious motivations which are emotional in nature. This discovery led to the formulation of an important postulate which formed the basis of his 'dynamic theory of personality'.

    Freud claimed that an understanding of the neurotic personality was based on an understanding of unconsious emotional drives or forces which he claimed 'were often in conflict'. According to his personality theory, the mental conflicts of the neurotic are fundamental conflicts of human nature - conflicts between an 'ego', an 'id' and a 'super-ego'.  He was concerned with the question "of the greatest theoretical importance, and one that has not yet been answered - when and how it is ever possible for the pleasure principle to be overcome." He postulated that since it was urgent to control the pleasure principle the the beast within the core of human nature which obeys an inexorable 'pleasure principle' and demands the satisfaction of the antisocial instincts.... the 'obscure id' must be controlled by a hypothetical 'super-ego' to control it. He claimed that the release of the id and the immediate satisfaction of the instinctive 'pleasure principle' would  lead to conflict with the external world and ultimately to destruction and extinction. 

The impact of Freud's theory of child sexuality led to confusion about the real nature of the child. Nineteenth century theories of children were largely based on adult experience. Freud's theory of personality has brought to light previously unknown features of human development. Psychoanalysis has established the influence of the infantile character in the formation of the adult character. Those patterns of adaptation established in the child's early years persist in the adult personality even if they are inadequate to cope with the adult's life situation.(77) (For a lucid account of insights of psychoanalysis see Anna Freud, Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Childhood. New York: International Universities Press, 1966)

Freud's  personality theory denied the authenticity of the constructive forces of human nature.  He had no clear vision of the human potential for creativity and productivity of self-fulfillment i.e. self-realisation or 'self-actualisation'. He believed that self-actualisation and the healthy striving towards it was an expression of narcissistic libido.

 Freud did not have knowledge of the underlying physiological mechanisms which produce the functions of the nervous system. The molecular mechanisms involved in brain functioning and the functioning of the nervous system were unknown. Freud understood the nervous system  hypothetically (working hypothesis) as a  net or 'syncytium' of cells joined together... connected to each other by bridges of protoplasm... 'protoplasmic bridges' - 'protoplasmic junctions' which he called 'contact barriers'. The hypothetical contact barriers provided a tentative explanation for the apparent unimpeded flow of information from one nerve cell to another throughout the brain i.e. 'information flow'. Freud was ignorant of our present day knowledge of the physiological basis of psychology and the structural units of information processing - the nerve signal or 'impulse', the nerve cell or 'neuron' and the contact point or  'synapse'.  The hypothetical contact barriers have been replaced by the 'synaptic theory of transmission of impulses'  to explain information flow. But his scientific psychology was incomplete because there was insufficient knowledge about the underlying physiological mechanisms... without the present knowledge of the molecular mechanisms which explain the continuity of information in the brain... which are involved in the functioning of neurons and their interconnections or 'synapses'. Freud was unaware of the nature of the structural unit of psychology - the nerve impulse.

Importance of cultural forces in personality development  We now recognize that behaviour which is regarded as normal in one social context may be considered as abnormal in another and vice versa. What constitutes normality or abnormality can only be decided when we consider the motivating forces and conflicts of the society and the culture within which the individual is functioning i.e. 'cultural context'.

Unconditional love is a necessary condition for normal psychological growth  When this is refused, children do not experience the certainty of being wanted which is crucial to their sense of security. As a result, their environment comes to be dreaded and is perceived as a menace to their individuality, their development, their instinctive strivings for growth, and ultimately their freedom and their happiness. In such an environment, their free use of energies is thwarted and their expansiveness is warped. Their self-esteem and self-reliance are undermined and their basic anxiety develops. Fear is instilled through brutality, overprotective so-called 'love', intimidation and isolation. And the fear is grounded in reality. The result is physical growth to adulthood without psychological growth results and the production of individuals without those attributes which make them truly 'human'.

 Contrary to Freud's belief, we now know that the mental conflicts of the neurotic are not fundamental conflicts of human nature. Instead they are based on the motivating forces and social conflicts of the culture within which the individual is functioning. Thus the neuroses of the individual living in modern industrial societies can be attributed to conflicting forces which are inherent in the society. Neurotic conflicts are energized by childhood anxieties which result from obstruction to their inner freedom, their security and their healthy psychological growth. Anxiety feelings arise in children whose parents fail to give them genuine warmth and affection (usually because of their own neuroses).

Today we know that neuroses are energized by childhood anxieties which result from obstruction to inner freedom, to security and healthy psychological growth. An essential for children's sense of security is genuine concern for their spiritual growth i.e. 'love'. When developmental needs for spiritual growth are repressed, the feelings of fear and anxiety which develop are grounded in reality. The individual develops a very real dread for the environment as a result of intimidation and brutality, isolation and overprotection. The environment is perceived as a threat to individuality, to the instinctive strivings for growth and development and ultimately to freedom and happiness. Under these conditions, the free use of energy is thwarted and expansiveness of personality is warped. The natural sense of self-esteem is undermined and the basic anxiety develops. As a result adulthood is reached without full psychological and emotional development. The struggle towards self-realization and failure to reach maturity with the attributes or 'values' of humaness.

"There is no such thing as a universal normal psychology; behavior regarded as neurotic in one culture may be quite normal elsewhere, and vice versa. What constitutes normality or abnormality can only be decided when we consider the culture within which the individual is functioning. The mental conflicts of the neurotic are not fundamental conflicts of human nature arising from biological foundations (Freud's belief). They are based on the motivating forces and conflicts of the society and the culture within which the individual is functioning. Energized by childhood anxieties resulting from obstruction to inner freedom, security and healthy psychological growth, "the neuroses of modern industrial man are therefore based on conflicts inherent in our own culture". (Horney, K. The Neurotic Personality of Our Time. 141)

The individual's value system can become so distorted that it contradicts the interests of their own humanity as well as the humanity of others... this is the tragedy of neurosis.

Implications for education  Although Freud was mistaken about the nature of human nature, he made a great contribution to psychology and learning theory with his discovery of the emotional nature of unconscious motivations  His personality theory - though not entirely correct in all its aspects - brought to our awareness the unconscious level of the human 'mind'. As a result we are aware of some previously unknown aspects of human development. We now know that the mental conflicts of the neurotic are not fundamental conflicts of human nature. Instead they are based on the motivating forces and social conflicts of the social environment within which the individual personality develops and functions. The concept of 'normality' makes sense only within the context of nature of the social environment in which the individual is functioning. Freud's scientific discovery of the unconscious has contributed to the understanding of the role of the unconscious in the motivation aspect of learning ...the basis of the valuing process intrinsic to the human organism... ('intrinsic motivation') and the importance of the emotional nature of motivation as a determinant for effective learning. This is of great significance to learning theory and consequently to educational theory. The emotional nature of motivation for learning is a key aspect of educational theory of the so-called  paradigm of education for development of the person as a whole i.e. 'holistic education'.

The Interpretation of Dreams http://www.hinduwebsite.com/general/etexts.htm (see psychology)

Brown, J. in Freud and the Post-Freudians. London: Cox and Wyman Ltd. 1964. page 133)

He postulated an inverse relationship between the satisfaction of human antisocial instincts and the level of cultural attainment: the more suppression of instincts, the more elaborate the civilization but also the greater the incidence of 'neurosis'; the less suppression of antisocial instincts, the less civilization but also the lower the incidence of neurosis. We now recognize that behaviour which is regarded as neurotic in one culture may be quite normal in another and vice versa. What constitutes normality or abnormality can only be decided when we consider the motivating forces and conflicts of the society and the culture within which the individual is functioning. Freud studied the neuroses of individuals living in the context of his own time and culture and discovered how childhood experiences influence the formation of the adult character. He had patients talk freely using a psychoanalytic technique known as 'free association' and discovered that neuroses were derived from powerful emotional forces related to traumatic and abusive childhood experiences. He discovered that patterns of adaptation established in the early years of childhood would persist in the adult personality even if they were inadequate and inappropriate to adult life, and that neuroses were relieved with the release of pent-up emotions. In his observations, Freud discovered that an individual's actions and behaviours are based on motivations which lie in emotional forces on the unconscious level of the mind. From this he postulated that human behaviours are determined by unconscious motivations which are emotional in nature. This discovery led to his formulation of an important postulate which formed the basis of his 'dynamic theory of personality'.

 

 He claimed that in order to understand the human personality, one must take into account the emotional drives or forces which 'were often in conflict'. Freud's mechanistic and dualistic thinking produced his pessimistic outlook on human nature. He believed that basic human nature would only lead to destruction if it were released and it was therefore urgent to control the beast within by means of a hypothetical 'super-ego'. He compared the human mind to a state in which a destructive mob has to be held down forcibly by a superior class. He claimed that the core of human nature is formed by the obscure 'id' which obeys an inexorable 'pleasure principle' and demands the satisfaction of antisocial instincts. Furthermore, the immediate satisfaction of the instincts would often lead to conflicts with the external world and ultimately to extinction.

Freud claimed that an understanding of the neurotic personality was based on an understanding of unconsious emotional drives or forces which he claimed 'were often in conflict'. According to his personality theory, the mental conflicts of the neurotic are fundamental conflicts of human nature - conflicts between an 'ego', an 'id' and a 'super-ego'. The core of human nature is made up of an obscure 'id' which demands the satisfaction of the antisocial instincts and obeys an inexorable 'pleasure principle'. The release of the id and the immediate satisfaction of the pleasure principle leads to conflict and destruction.

 Freud believed that the function of any society is to check and restrain the antisocial instincts. He believed that civilization is a result of the deflection of the antisocial instincts of the libido to symbolic ends - a process which he called 'sublimation'. He believed that love is sublimated sexuality and that any kind of affection was a sublimated expression of libidinal desires - even an infant's love for its mother! He even believed that the individual's healthy striving toward self-realization was an expression of 'narcissistic libido'. He thought that there should be an inverse relationship between the satisfaction of human antisocial instincts and the level of cultural attainment. The more suppression of instincts, the more elaborate the civilization but also the greater the incidence of neurosis. The less suppression of antisocial instincts, the less civilization but also the smaller the incidence of neurosis. In his studies, Freud used a psychoanalytic technique known as 'free association'. When he had patients talk freely, he discovered that their neuroses could be explained by powerful emotional forces. Many neuroses were related to traumatic sexual experiences such as seductions and abuses in childhood. Other neuroses were related to unconscious and repressed desires. With his technique of free association he showed that patterns of adaptation which were established in the child's early years can persist in the adult personality even if they are inadequate to cope with the adult's life situation.

Freud was concerned with what he thought to be a question of great theoretical importance and for which no answer had yet been given: '"When and how is it ever possible for the 'pleasure principle' to be overcome?". He postulated that since it was urgent to control the pleasure principle, there must be a 'super-ego' to control the id. His personality theory denied the authenticity of the constructive forces of human nature and so did not imply any clear vision of the human potential for productiveness. Freud did not see the tragedy in neurosis. Today we know that neuroses are energized by childhood anxieties which result from obstruction to children's inner freedom, to their security and to their healthy psychological growth. An essential for children's sense of security is genuine concern for their spiritual growth i.e. 'love'. When developmental needs for spiritual growth are repressed, the feelings of fear and anxiety which develop are grounded in reality. The individual develops a very real dread for the environment as a result of intimidation and brutality, isolation and overprotection. The environment is perceived as a threat to individuality, to the instinctive strivings for growth and development and ultimately to freedom and happiness. Under these conditions, the free use of energy is thwarted and expansiveness of personality is warped. The natural sense of self-esteem is undermined and the basic anxiety develops. As a result adulthood is reached without full psychological and emotional development. The struggle towards self-realization and failure to reach maturity with the attributes or 'values' of humaness. Distortion of value systems contradicts the interests of one's own humanity and the humanity of others. This is the tragedy of neurosis. Although Freud was mistaken about the nature of human nature, his great contribution to psychology and learning theory was his discovery of the emotional nature of unconscious motivations. His personality theory - though not entirely correct in all its aspects - brought to our awareness the unconscious level of the human 'mind'. As a result we are aware of some previously unknown aspects of human development. We now know that the mental conflicts of the neurotic are not fundamental conflicts of human nature. Instead they are based on the motivating forces and social conflicts of the social environment within which the individual personality develops and functions. Therefore the concept of 'normality' only makes sense in the context of the nature of the social environment in which an individual is functioning. Behaviour which is regarded as normal in one social context may be considered quite abnormal in another. Of particular significance to learning theory, Freud's scientific discovery of the unconscious has contributed to the understanding of the role of the unconscious in the motivation aspect of the learning process.

 At the time of Freud (1856-1939) it was believed that information flow was purely electrical (Freud's most significant contribution to psychology was his discovery of the unconscious motivations of human behaviour i.e. 'intrinsic motivation' and his work on neurotic development or 'neurosis'.  When he set out to establish his 'scientific psychology' he was unaware that information is transmitted along the neuron in the form of 'electrochemical pulses' or 'signals' i.e. 'nerve impulse').

 J. Allan Hobson, The Dreaming Brain. New York: Basic Books, 1977, 97. He demonstrated the influence of the infantile character in the formation of the adult character. When he discovered that patients were able to relieve their neuroses by releasing their own pent-up emotions, he assumed that the mental conflicts of the neurotic were fundamental conflicts of human nature. Freud's discovery of the emotional nature of unconscious motivations was one of his great contributions to psychology. The discovery led to his formulation of an important postulate which formed the basis of his 'dynamic theory of personality'. Freud postulated that an individual's actions and behaviours are based on motivations which lie in emotional forces on the unconscious level of the mind. His dynamic theory of personality was based on the postulate that human behaviour is based on unconscious motivations which are emotional in nature. His theory of personality made us aware of the unconscious level of the human 'mind' and brought to light previously unknown features of human development. We now know that there is no such thing as a universal normal psychology. Behavior which is regarded as neurotic in one culture may be considered quite normal in another. What constitutes normality or abnormality can only be decided when we consider the culture within which the individual is functioning. Contrary to Freud's belief, we now know that the mental conflicts of the neurotic are not fundamental conflicts of human nature. Instead they are based on the motivating forces and social conflicts of the culture within which the individual is functioning. Thus the neuroses of the individual living in modern industrial societies can be attributed to conflicting forces which are inherent in the society. Neurotic conflicts are energized by childhood anxieties which result from obstruction to their inner freedom, their security and their healthy psychological growth. Anxiety feelings arise in children whose parents fail to give them genuine warmth and affection (usually because of their own neuroses). Unconditional love is an essential for children's normal development. When this is refused, they do not experience the certainty of being wanted which is crucial to their sense of security. As a result, their environment comes to be dreaded and is perceived as a menace to their individuality, their development, their instinctive strivings for growth, and ultimately their freedom and their happiness. In such an environment, their free use of energies is thwarted and their expansiveness is warped. Their self-esteem and self-reliance are undermined and their basic anxiety develops. Fear is instilled through brutality, overprotective so-called 'love', intimidation and isolation. And the fear is grounded in reality. The result is physical growth to adulthood without psychological growth results and the production of individuals without those attributes which make them 'human'. Inhuman individuals have value systems which are so distorted and unbalanced that they contradict the interests of their own humanity and the humanity of others. Freud's 'scientific psychology' was incomplete because there was insufficient knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the apparent 'continuity of information' in the brain. Freud did not have knowledge of the underlying physiological mechanisms which produce the functions of the nervous system. The molecular mechanisms involved in brain functioning and the functioning of the nervous system were unknown. Freud understood the nervous system to be a continuous net or 'syncytium' of nerve cells connected to each other by 'protoplasmic bridges' or 'protoplasmic junctions' which he called 'contact barriers'. The concept of a net of nerve cells joined together with bridges of protoplasm was a hypothetical one which solved the problem of continuity of information throughout the brain. The hypothetical protoplasmic bridges could 'explain' the apparently unimpeded flow of information. As a working hypothesis, the concept provided a tentative explanation for the continuity of information from one nerve cell to another, since, in it, the flow of information was unimpeded. But his scientific psychology was incomplete without the present knowledge of the molecular mechanisms which are involved in the functioning of neurons and their interconnections. Freud was unaware of the nature of the structural unit of psychology - the nerve impulse. (See the parallel situation in which Darwin's theory of evolution was incomplete because he was unaware that the structural unit of natural selection as the mutations.)

 

 

references:

Leslie Hart Human Brain and Human Learning Kent,WA:Books for Educators,1999

Joseph LeDoux  The Emotional Brain  New York: Simon and Schuster 1996

Candace Pert Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel New York: Simon and Schuster Touchstone 1999

Antonia Damasio  Descarte's Error:Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain  New York: G.P. Putnam Sons, 1994

articles Geoffrey Hinton How Neural Networks Learn from Experience Scientific American, 267:3. September 1992, 145.

Eric R. Kandel and Robert D. Hawkins The Biological Basis of Learning and Individuality Scientific American September 1992

 

 'Cognitive structure' "refers to rules for processing information or for connecting experienced events." (Kohlberg, L. Stage and Sequence: The Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Socialization. In In D.A. Goslin (ed.) Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand McNally 1969, 350)

 "When is one free from tests or other types of institutional press?..... only when one submits oneself to them and rises above them." Education is a human enterprise involved with the development of human potential and human values. "Full maturation of the 'productive' character and the individual's self-realization is the aim of the biological process of human development and therefore of education and humanistic ethics."

Geoffrey Hinton, "How Neural Networks Learn from Experience," Scientific American, 267:3. September 1992, 145. Eric R. Kandel and Robert D. Hawkins "The Biological Basis of Learning and Individuality" Scientific American September 1992 79-86

 "Learning occurs as a result of changing the effectiveness of synapses so that their influence on other neurons also changes." psychobiological research... Wholistic brain-based learning for natural knowledge

In general the findings in brain research indicate that effective learning results from the wholistic response of the whole brain to incoming stimuli.

 "The research of the neuroscientists and psychobiologists, together with the knowledge and intuition of educators and psychologists, points to the need for a more deliberate involvement of the whole brain in the process of learning." (Caine Making Connections p.7)

theme: evolutionary significance of learning and memory. As natural functions of the brain, the processes of learning and memory did not develop by accident; they developed because they were of survival value.

What is learning? For the convenience of argument, it is necessary to distinguish between learning as the acquisition of new behavioural responses and 'memory' as the retention and recall of responses which have been learned. The broad definition of 'learning' is conceived in terms of changes of behaviour which result from experience and thus includes the 'retention of learning' or 'memory'.

 quotations:

"The experience and the difficulties of the child are of a global nature. The younger the child, the more global the experience." (Gerald Karnow "Educating the Whole Person for the Whole of Life" Holistic Education Review, Spring, 1992, 61)

 "The term 'global' suggests the involvement of the whole person as a being of body, soul and spirit. What the developing child experiences affects the whole person for the whole of life. This has profound implications for education." (Gerald Karnow "Educating the Whole Person for the Whole of Life" Holistic Education Review, Spring, 1992 )

"Education is futile if it involves the learning of material which has no personal meaning. Learning which does not involve the learner's feelings has no relevance for the whole person and is insignificant. Significant learning involves thought and feelings. Left to his own devices a child learns rapidly and effectively he learns from experience. Learning with a quality of personal involvement - this is called 'experiential learning.'" (Carl Rogers Freedom to Learn Charles Merrill Publishing Company, Columbus Ohio l969)

 

Experiments and study in education based on the underlying principle of respect for the potential of the individual stress the importance of learning at the emotional level, so-called 'affective learning.'

Brain-based teaching methods teach to the physiological process of wholistic learning. Teaching methods which ignore the physiological process of learning interfere with the natural potential of the human brain and hamper its natural development.

The learning process is derived from the brain's innate, survival oriented drive to make sense of unfamiliar stimuli...

 

Leslie Hart. Learning and the Brain 

 According to the proster theory, the human brain works by programs... 'prosters'... the brain thrives on complexity and learns by programs... or 'prosters'. The word proster is a new word or 'neologism' (from Greek 'logos' for word) which has been created to represent a new concept... free of any old connotations. The word 'proster' is derived from a compression of 'program structure'. Prosters are collections of stored programs related to a particular pattern.

Effective learning takes place when the external sensory input challenges the brain to do three things: first call up the greatest number of appropriate prosters; second expand an already existing proster; third develop new prosters.

 In order to make sense of new experience, the brain attempts to categorize and pattern new information with what is already stored... at a very high rate of speed

wholistic functioning of the brain: cerebral hemispheres... adaptive function of 'intelligence' - cognitive 'skills', thinking...planning for intelligent action learning, memory... Learning is affected by physiological and environmental factors ...connected with the organism's state of 'health'.

Optimal learning is promoted by optimal health or 'wellness' ...

The learning function ..capacity for learning ..of the brain is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.Under perceived threat, connections in the brain are interrupted and the learning functions are 'dowshifted'.

A supportive environment and the absence of threat stimulate the formation of new prosters... Broadly defined, 'learning' is defined in terms of the changes of behaviour which result from experience, and includes memory.

 Effective learning is enhanced by... involves an alternation of different states of arousal which are closely linked to states of consciousness: the rational waking state - being functional and effective in the world - creative state, meditative state, dream state, and so on. In each state of consciousness, a different part of the brain is dominant, but the brain functions as a whole. The different states of consciousness are influenced by physical wellbeing and emotions. As a physiological process, learning is affected by physiological and environmental factors including nutrition, stress, mental state, experiences and circumstances.

connection between learning (as physiological process) and teaching methods: Brain-based teaching methods teach to the physiological process of wholistic learning. Teaching methods which ignore the physiological process of learning interfere with the natural potential of the human brain and hamper its natural development.

LEARNING WITH THE BRAIN'S  RULES: 'BRAIN-BASED LEARNING'  also 'complex learning' 

Complex learning involves a learning on a number of levels... is effective because it engages the learner's total being.... depends on a wholistic perspective and a wholistic mode of thought. It is effective because it accounts for the important role of the learner's subjective experience in the learning process. It is effective because it yields to improvements in educational theory and the formulation of effective teaching methodologies. Curriculum design which is based on wholistic educational theories incorporates the integration of different brain functions. Teaching methodologies incorporate the integration of the subject matter with life experience. They are based on the respect for children's innate intelligence. They constitute the rationale for holistic education based on the natural functions of the human brain. "...the human mind ...source of Being" (Miller et al. The Renewal of Meaning in Education: Responses to the Cultural and Ecological Crisis of our Times Brandon, VT: Holistic Education Press, 1993 16)

theme: The new paradigm of wholistic education emphasizes character development which is based on intrinsically motivated learning... 'experiential learning' or 'brain-based learning'.  

  "One of the most important lessons to derive from brain research is that in a very important sense, all learning is experiential. What we learn depends on the global experience, not just on the manner of presentation. We do not automatically learn enough from our experience. What matters is how experience is used. ...in deliberately teaching for the expansion of natural knowledge, we need both to help students have appropriate experiences and to help them capitalize on the experiences." (Renate Nummela Caine and Geoffrey Caine. Making Connections, (Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, 1991, 104)

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brain as meaning maker...   perception of the whole or 'holistic perception required for adapability...

survival value of experiential learning...   interconnections between reasoning and emotion...

biology of learning...   immersion...   relaxed alertness...

The function of the brain as 'meaning maker' required for effective adaptation... The human organism is a social organism which depends for survival on the ability to adapt to the complexities of rapidly changing social conditions. Human adaptability depends on the specialized capacity of the human brain to make meaning of experience or 'learn'. "Every living creature, while it is awake, is in constant interaction with its surroundings. It is engaged in a process of give and take - of doing something to objects around it and receiving back something from them - impressions, stimuli. This process of interacting constitutes the framework of experience." (John Dewey, How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company 1933 p.36)

Perception of the whole or 'holistic perception' is a requirement for human adaptability The brain  responds automatically to the complexities of the environment in its attempt to integrate the various stimuli in order to produce effective thinking, correct evaluation and adaptive behaviour which is required for 'behavioural adaptation' or 'adaptability'. Human adaptability depends on a rational and critical perception of a contextual reality in which the various parts are perceived as constituent elements of a whole... 'holistic perception'. Holistic perception is a function of  understanding the interrelationships between the component parts with each other and with the whole... clear perception of interactions between the various components of a complex reality as different dimensions of a totality. Perception of each of the parts in its own context creates depth and allows for a clear perception of the reality in its totality... ('vision'). The total vision of the reality makes it possible for the brain to analyse critically and to recognize problems as challenging and capable of being resolved... 'problem resolution'. Problem resolution depends n the correct evaluation of the given contextual reality.

 Holistic perception is a function of the interdependent and integrated functioning of the two hemispheres of the brain the 'cerebral hemispheres'. The integrated functioning brain of the cerebral hemispheres is the structural basis of the brain's automatic response to the complexities of the environment.

Survival value of brain-based learning... 'experiential learning'... in human evolution The learning capacity of the brain is a product of human evolution through natural selection and can best be understood in terms of adaptation and survival. Human adaptive behaviour and survival depends on the brain's capacity to respond automatically to the complexities of the environment and then to make quick decisions for purposeful adaptation. Adaptive decision making depends on the activation of the brain's ability to compare, categorize, organize, analyze, integrate and evaluate or 'process' information. In the processing of information, the brain focuses on a set of environmental stimuli on the conscious level of awareness  'consciousness' and subconsciously processes the information in the context of peripheral stimuli of the physical, social, cultural and emotional environments. The capacity to think depends on the way in which the peripheral stimuli are processed on the subconscious level of awareness.

It is the individual's consciousness level which determines the mode of interpretation and the type of motivation for subsequent behaviour.

 The individual's thought and behaviour patterns depend on their perception of  'reality' i.e. 'character orientation'. The individual thinks about a given reality and then makes evaluations in terms of how they perceive it.. Patterns of inquiry and observation which lead to accurate evaluation - 'critical thought' - result in behaviour which is creative and 'adaptive'. (Destructive and 'non-adaptive' behaviour results from innacurate evaluation resulting from the inability to think critically). Learning which is meaningful in the context of experience is 'experiential learning'. Experiential learning is the self-initiated learning of personal involvement and involves motivation which is intrinsic to the organism i.e. self-motivation or 'intrinsic motivation'... motivation driven by the instinctive need to search for meaning in experience i.e. 'curiosity'. Curiosity is stimulated by the challenge of the complexity of the environment and stimulates the brain's natural capacity for understanding and awareness i.e. act of knowing or 'cognition'. Cognition is facilitated in a mental process involving profound and thorough examination and evaluation while engaging in intellectual, emotional, psychological, moral and spiritual aspects of character development i.e. contemplation or 'meditation'. Meditation is a function of the  brain as natural function as 'meaning maker' i.e. 'brain-based learning'. Brain-based learning engages the brain's natural potential for creativity i.e. 'creative intelligence' or  'intuition' (developed intuition of developed conscience)... and involves emotions...'learning emotions' or 'motivations' as well as intellect.  

A major breakthrough in neuroscience is the discovery of structural interconnections between those parts of the brain which are involved in both reasoning and emotion. This finding has significant implications for educational theory. The new understanding of the learning process can be applied effectively to teaching practice. Pedagogical methodologies of brain-based learning are compatible with the natural functioning of the brain - 'brain-compatible'. Brain-compatible pedagogies teach to the brain as a pattern detector which simultaneously perceives parts and wholes. They aim to facilitate the brain's natural capacity to make connections, to organize information, to orchestrate complex learning experiences, to perceive relationships and to integrate new experience with previously learned experience. They aim to 'orchestrate' all learning experiences. They provide the learner with experiences which enable them to recognize existing patterns of connections and to create new ones. They provide a rational context for brain-based learning and wholistic education. They recognize and encourage the learning process as a natural phenomenon. They teach to the brain's innate drive to search for meaning or 'learn'. They take advantage of the brain's natural functions and natural potential for learning. Their aim is to bring about successful learning as a natural process based on the optimal functioning of the brain. Pedagogical methods which teach to the brain provide intellectually challenging content in meaningful context. They depend on the global presentation of subject matter to stimulate the brain's natural function of wholistic or 'global learning'. Brain compatible pedagogies promote cooperative and collaborative or 'interdisciplinary' learning and teaching environments. They formulate contextual frameworks in terms of interconnecting themes which unify different ideas and knowledge areas or subjects i.e. 'thematic teaching'. They teach with the understanding that knowledge of one subject is embedded in knowledge of other subjects and that all knowledge is embedded in life experience. They design curricula so as to integrate them around the meaningful interpenetration and interrelationships between facts and subjects. They emphasize the relevance of real life learning experience in the classroom. They teach to the brain's innate capacity for social interaction i.e. 'social intelligence'. Social intelligence is crucial to effective learning for understanding or 'perceptual learning'. Perceptual learning through social interaction promotes change in character or 'growth'... 'holistic education'

"The brain's natural function is the search for meaning in experience. 'Brain-based learning' is confluent with the brain's natural rules for meaningful learning". (Renate Nummela Caine and Geoffrey Caine, Making Connections, (Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, 1991, 79-88.)

 The broad definition of 'learning' is conceived in terms of changes of behaviour which result from experience and thus includes memory. However in psychobiological research it is convenient to distinguish between learning as the 'acquisition and development of new responses' and  memory as 'the retention or recall of the learned response'. Learning is a function of the chemical and molecular mechanisms involving the nerve cells and the junctional units connecting them, the 'synapses.' (Eric R. Kandel and Robert D. Hawkins "The Biological Basis of Learning and Individuality" Scientific American September 1992 pp. 79-86) .

Holistic perception involves the brain's ability to compare, categorize, organize, analyze, integrate and evaluate or 'process' information accurately in order to make decisions which are effective in adaptation to changing conditions.

The pervasiveness of experiential learning makes it exciting, absorbing and compelling.

Experiential learning is the basis for education which is effective for the person as a whole i.e. 'holistic education'.

Holistic education is education for both cognitive development for understanding or 'knowledge' and emotional development  for personality integration or 'maturity'. Education for knowledge and maturity is based on the optimal functioning of the brain or 'optimalearning'. Optimalearning involves not only cognitive learning but affective learning or the development of 'emotional intelligence'. Emotions provide the meanings which are essential to learning. Meaning is expressed through 'functional language' which depends on authentic social interaction or 'dialogue'.

Authentic dialogue is crucial to experiential learning.  

Optimal learning and brain's capacity to see patterns: The student naturally looks for larger patterns.

 The brain is a pattern detector. The wholistic perspective is natural. One fact can be seen in many different contexts. One subject or issue is always related to many other subjects or issues. There is an interconnectedness between facts and several subjects, and within the subjects. A subject is understood if relationships with other areas is rcognized. In this way the subject or facts 'make sense' and have meaning. It is a natural process of the brain to make sense of the environment for survival of the organism. The brain processes information all the time. It naturally responds in a global way to the context of the environment in which it is immersed. The brain is a 'parallel processor.' Information is processed for many different functions at the same time - hormone levels in the bloodstream, digestion, breathing, heart etc. all the physical functions are goi g on at the same time as the mental functions of thinking, reading, listening etc. The interconnections between various parts of the brain make this possible. The brain is described as 'holographic' or 'global' or 'interconnected.'

 For education an undersanding of the global nature of the functioning of the brain is crucial. States of arousal or 'states of consciousness': creative state, meditative state, dreaming, rationality (being functional and effective in the world.) They are influenced by physical wellbeing and emotions. In each state of consciousness, a different part of the brain is dominant, but the brain functions as a whole. Brain research indicates that parts and wholes interact Arthur Koestler coined the word 'holon' which means that everything is a part of something bigger and is itself made up of parts. The brain can deal with parts and wholes simultaneously. The brain can deal with the interconnected, interpenetrating 'holographic' world.

 "One common thrust of many new methods of teaching is that they have this sense of the wholeness that emerges out of seeing how academic subjects relate to each other and how human beings relate to the subjects."("Understanding a Brain-Based Approach to Learning and Teaching' Renate Nummela Caine and Geoffry Caine Educational Leadership vol no. October 1990 66-70)

 From the findings of brain research it becomes evident that intelligence and all the other properties of the 'mind' result from the patterns of neurons and their connections. It becomes evident that the brain has a natural capacity to make connections and to process information as a functioning whole. They indicate that effective learning results from the response of the  brain as a whole to incoming stimuli.

 Biology of learning  Brain functioning as the biological basis of learning is the concern of brain research or 'neuroscience'.  Learning is a function of the propagation of nerve signals or 'impulses' along the nerve cells or 'neurons', their transmission across the interconnections - the 'synapses'. Inhibition of the formation of synaptic connections inhibits learning and stimulation of formation of synaptic connections enhances learning - synapse modification. Learning which is based on the natural functioning of the brain - brain-based learning - enhances the formation of synaptic connections. Formation of synaptic connections is naturally enhanced in the mental process of absorption or 'immersion'. In the immersion process, the brain responds to the environment as a whole or 'wholistically' and each new experience is embedded in the totality of past experience and is integrated with it. Facilitation of the immersion process increases the brain's capacity for the simultaneous perception of parts and wholes i.e. 'holistic perception'.

 We learn from neuroscience that the brain has a natural capacity to make connections.

 "Neurobiology, the science of the brain and cognitive psychology, science of the mind, have merged over the past several decades. Recent brain research has resulted in a new framework for the study of learning. This framework is based on the study of biological substrates of mental functions. As processes of acquiring and retaining new knowledge, the mental functions of learning and memory are analysed in terms of mechanisms involving the neurons or nerve cells. Insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning constitute the beginnings of the bridge being formed between cognitive psychology and molecular biology". (Eric R. Kandel and Robert D. Hawkins "The Biological Basis of Learning and Individuality" Scientific American September 1992 79-86)

 PROCESS OF IMMERSION and making connections: "Every complex event embeds information in the brain and links what is being learned to the rest of the learner's current experiences, past knowledge, and future behaviour."

This is a characteristic property of the brain which should be exlpoited in the learning process. Teaching methods should "expand the content and context" through a process of 'immersion.' The student's natural capacity for 'immersion' in content and context should be utilized in the learning process. The natural immersion process can be hindered or helped depending on the teaching methods being used. Through the 'immersion process' the student makes an increasing number of connections to other learning experiences. If the immersion process is hindered, fewer connections are made. If the immersion process is helped, more connections are made... this increases the brain's capacity to respond as a whole and to make connections for the simultaneous perception of parts and wholes i.e. 'wholistic perception'.

 The immerion process can be helped or hindered not only by the teaching methods but also by family and social environments.

The individual's mode of interpretation... their type of motivation and behaviour is determined by their consciousness level... their level of development or 'sociocognitive stage'.

Principles of brain-based learning are compatible with the new wholistic view of the world and its complexity and interrelatedness. (Renate Nummela Caine and Geoffrey Caine, Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain Alexandria, Virginia: The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1991).  

The findings of neuroscientists, neurobiologists and psychobiologists have significant implications for education.

 "Methodologies of so-called 'brain-based' learning teach to the brain's natural functioning. They teach to the brain's natural capacity for making associations. Teaching methods based on the natural funtioning of the brain enhance learning because they enhance the formation of synaptic connections between nerve cells. They teach with a view to the optimal use of the brain's capacity to organize information and perceive relationships. They teach to the learner's ability to perceive relationships between new experiences and previous experiences. They teach for meaningful learning in contextual frameworks. They formulate contextual frameworks in terms of unifying themes which connect different ideas and different knowledge areas or 'subjects'. Pedagogies based on the natural functioning of the brain are described as 'brain-compatible'. Methodologies for educators of natural knowledge provide opportunities for learners to see global relationships, to make connections, to extract meaningful patterns. The function of the teacher is to facilitate learning by organizing educational experiences through a process of 'orchestrated immersion'. The learner experiences 'immersion' in an orchestrated educational environment." (Caine. Making Connections)

Brain-compatible pedagogy

  

 Brain functioning as the biological basis of learning is the concern of 'neuroscience'. A major breakthrough in neuroscience is the discovery of structural interconnections between those parts of the brain which are involved in both reasoning and emotion. This finding has significant implications for educational theory. The new understanding of the learning process can be applied effectively to teaching practice. Pedagogical methodologies of brain-based learning are compatible with the natural functioning of the brain. They are described as 'brain-compatible'. Brain-compatible pedagogies teach to the brain as a pattern detector which simultaneously perceives parts and wholes. They aim to facilitate the brain's natural capacity to make connections, to organize information, to orchestrate complex learning experiences, to perceive relationships and to integrate new experience with previously learned experience. They aim to 'orchestrate' all learning experiences. They provide the learner with experiences which enable them to recognize existing patterns of connections and to create new ones. They provide a rational context for brain-based learning and wholistic education. They recognize and encourage the learning process as a natural phenomenon. They teach to the brain's innate drive to search for meaning or 'learn'. They take advantage of the brain's natural functions and natural potential for learning. Their aim is to bring about successful learning as a natural process based on the optimal functioning of the brain. Pedagogical methods which teach to the brain provide intellectually challenging content in meaningful context. They depend on the global presentation of subject matter to stimulate the brain's natural function of wholistic or 'global' learning. Brain compatible pedagogies promote cooperative and collaborative or 'interdisciplinary' learning and teaching environments. They formulate contextual frameworks in terms of interconnecting themes which unify different ideas and knowledge areas or subjects i.e. 'thematic teaching'. They teach with the understanding that knowledge of one subject is embedded in knowledge of other subjects and that all knowledge is embedded in life experience. They design curricula so as to integrate them around the meaningful interpenetration and interrelationships between facts and subjects. They emphasize the relevance of real life learning experience in the classroom. They teach to the brain's innate capacity for social interaction or 'social intelligence'. Social intelligence is crucial to effective learning for understanmding or 'perceptual learning'. Perceptual learning through social interaction promotes change in charachter or 'growth'.  . Learning which is meaningful in the context of experience is 'experiential learning.

The findings of brain research lend validity to a rational basis for holistic education. They provide a rationale for pedagogical methodologies which promote natural brain-based learning for natural knowledge... integrative teaching and learning model for meaningful education which allows students to make connections between different areas of knowledge. The reconceptualization of teaching and learning based on a knowledge of brain functioning can result in a more effective educational experience for children growing up in the complex world of the 'global village.'

 Character development depends on the natural growth process of integration... involves the brain's natural capacity for brain-based learning. The integrated individual is stable and autonomous.   

 (Mind/Brain Learning Principles by R.Caine  http://www.newhorizons.org/caine.htm

notes:

consciousness... The brain's thinking capacity depends on the way in which the peripheral stimuli are processed on the subconscious level of awareness or 'consciousness'.

Relaxed alertness "...optimal state of mind for expanding natural knowledge. It combines the moderate to high challenge that is built into intrinsic motivatiowith low threat and a pervasive sense of well-being... It is the key to people's ability to access what they alrteady know, think creatively, tolerate ambiguity, and delay gratification- all essential for genuine expansionn of knowledge. (Caine and Caine 134)

The learner can be both reaxed and alert in when in the context of an environment which is both safe and challenging. The learner must feel both secure and motivated in order to be able to make sense of new experience in that environment. In such an environment the learner can explore new thoughts and make new connections ... engage the brain in 'active processing' or 'active learning'... seeing relationships between new  experience and the knowledge of old experience.... relates what is being learned to the rest of the learner's current experience, past knowledge and eventually their future behaviour.

 Active processing "the consolidation and internalisation of information in a way that is both personally meaningful and conceptually coherent.(147) Active learning involves the creation of connections between new knowledge and previous knowledge. (Karl Pribram... concept of 'active uncertainty'... and 'neuropsychology')   The objective of natural brain-based learning is to make sense of personal experience - 'experiential learning'

Teaching methods can facilitate the expansion of content and context through a process of 'immersion' which enables the learner to make an optimal number of connections with other learning experiences... The understanding  can be reinforced if the learner is given opportunities to talk about their learning experiences. Hence the importance of an appropriate social context of learning.

The brain has a natural capacity to see patterns... and to look for larger patterns... The natural capacity to see the whole... 'holistic  perception'... enables the learner to see one particular element or 'fact' from different perspectives... to see the interconnectedness of the various different elements which make up the whole picture... in this way the brain 'makes meaning' ... 'makes sense' or 'learns'. Making sense of the environment is an aspect of adapting to it... the brain is processing iformation from the environment all the time... it naturally responds to the environment in a manner which is global or 'holistic'. 

 

The aim of artificial intelligence research is to determine the underlying mechanism of learning with the use of computers to analyse simulations of neural networks of the brain. Neural networks are represented by networks of artificial neurons created to mimic the brain's learning processes. First the essential features of neurons and their interconnections are  theoretically deduced. On the basis of the theoretical features and interconnections, the neural networks are created and constructed. A computer is then programmed to simulate the features. This technique has enabled researchers to test various theories on how the brain processes information. Their models are beginning to reveal the mechanism of the learning process. Attempts have been made to determine the underlying mechanism of learning in the field of artifical intelligence.



BRAIN-BASED LEARNING and TEACHING TO THE BRAIN
a. integrated curricula - learning of content in context
b. thematic teaching and experiential learning
c. biological needs as themes: survival- thinking, problem-solving, decision making,  food - cultivation and nutrition,  water - ecology, physiology  defense - health, protection etc.

"For adjustment to the environment , one must learn to control and evaluate perceptions, and to extract information necessary for survival. GFor intellectual and sppirityual griowth, one must be prepared to change one's ideas in the face of new evidence . "People cannot be expected to be confidetly adaptable at such a basic level unless they have the security of a stable self-image a reasoned and realistic awarteness of their own powers and their individual worth, tempered by an equal respect foor the worth of others." (57) The function of the teacher as 'mediator' is to promote people's confident adaptability by enhancing their security and making them aware of their own powers and their own worth. The ideal teacher would "strengthen the confidence of the student in his own capabilities, and make sure in doing so that the student was learning to assess these capabilities realistically and to exercise them with due regard for the collective interest and the rights of others. He would interpret the student's perceptions in terms of past history, future probability and the large perspectives of the global morality." (57) The teacher's responsibility: "teaching how knowledge can be sought, for forming and modifying goals and ideas, and for rational decision making. He is not so much a source or a purveyor as a guide to sources, an organizer of opportunities and an instructior in the techniques of inquiry and thought. His knowledge is not an ingredient in the student's education, to be consumed and used up, but a catalyst promoting the reactions of learning and growth as a result of the encounter between human capabilities and increasing knowledge."

Torsten Husen Functions of the Schools of the Future. In Present Trends and Future Developments in Education: a European Perspective. Peter Sandford Memorial Lectures. Toronto,?  

  Brain-based learning as optimal learning or 'optimalearning' The healthy human brain can detect patterns, make approximations, has a phenomenal capacity for memory, can reflect, self-correct, learn from experience by analysing data. etc. an inexhaustable capacity to create.

                   The function of teaching is the facilitation of learning as a natural process involving optimal brain functioning or 'optimalearning' (term coined by Ivan Barzakov). Optimalearning engages the brain's natural capacity for perception of the whole as the basis for understanding i.e. 'holistic perception'.  Holistic perception is the basis for intelligence as 'creative intelligence'.

"There is an optimal state of mind for expanding natural knowledge. It combines the moderate to high challenge that is built into intrinsic motivation with low threat and a pervasive sense of well-being. We call that 'relaxed alertness'. Ongoing relaxed alertness is the key to people's ability to access what they already know, think creatively, tolerate ambiguity, and delay gratification, all of which are essential for genuine expansion of knowledge." (Caine and Caine. Making Connections: Learning and the Human Brain. page 134)

conditioned learning is an inefficient use of the brain's potential...

efficient use of the brain involves usage of the spatial memory system...

learner environment...   role of the unconscious... 

 what is 'optimalearning'? ...is creative learning or personal learning of growth and development required for adaptation to changing conditions...

 barriers to optimalearning...

implications for education

                          teacher's role as facilitator is to raise learner confidence

Conditioned learning is an inefficient use of the brain's potential The real impediment to learning is 'fear' - fear of making mistakes, fear of failing to carry out specific tasks, fear of failing to meet specified requirements or 'learning outcomes'. Stress from fear sets up mental blocks and so prevents recall and impedes learning. The release of stress from fear enables the learne r to engage the brain in a process of natural optimalearning for which the rate of assimilation is two to three times faster than with traditional methods of education as 'schooling' i.e. 'banking education'. Banking education is based on the concept of learning as a process of 'conditioning' and ignores the learner's  personal world or 'inner life'. Emphasis is on memorization of facts or learning by 'rote'. Rote learning excludes the 'learning emotions' which make for meaningful creativity and productiveness or 'work'. Non-creative rote learning interferes with the brain's capacity for 'insight' - the ability to make connections and thereby understand the hidden meaning of reality or 'truth'. Lack of the insightful aspect of learning results in superficial or 'surface knowledge'. Rote learning for surface knowledge requires many learning trials and is therefore an inefficient use of the potential of the 'brain'. When the brain is able to discover and create new connections and patterns or 'prosters' then the number of learning trials is reduced. Learning for the discovery and creation of prosters depends on the optimal functioning of the brain as a potential 'meaning maker'. Meaningful learning is optimal learning or 'optimalearning' which engages the 'spatial memory system' of the 'hippocampus'. Learning based on spatial memory engages the global or 'holistic' functioning of the brain. 

Efficient use of the brain involves usage of the spatial memory system. This means that the most effective learning experiences are those connected to real life situations and classroom teaching methodologies which utilise the active processing capacities of the students. Students learn most effectively when they are actively engaged in projects, talks, discussions, field trips, record taking, problem solving etc. Teaching methodologies should emphasize context of information. For example, the subject of geography and the topic of flooding is effectively learned when presented in the context of  actrual flooding disasters. Historical and political themes presented in the context of current events. Presentation of issues in the context of real life situations makes the subject matter meaningful.... capitalises on the brain's innate capacity to 'make sense' out of real life siutations, a biologically based capacity which has evolved as a means of self-protection and survival of the organism having to maintain itself in a changing environment. Real life activities such as demonstrations, projects, field trips, drama on the basis understand the functioning of the hippocampus and accordingly create a non threatening but challenging learning environment of relaxed alertness... allow for expression in many forms - verbal, tactile, emotional, intellectual. 

What is 'optimalearning'?

Optimal learning is 'experiential learning' Optimal learning is holistic... global... natural or 'brain-based' learning

 The holistic paradigm of education is based on the knowledge of brain functioning as a natural learning. 

 The brain is a physiological organ which is specialized for making sense, making meaning or 'learning'. Learning is a survival-oriented and therefore a natural function of the brain. The brain processes information all the time and naturally responds globally to the context of the environment in which it is immersed. Natural learning involves the activation of the natural capacities of the brain for comparing, patterning, categorizing and connecting between parts and wholes i.e. 'global learning'. Global learning is 'brain-based learning'. Brain-based learning involves natural brain functions which include the propagation of signals or 'nerve impulses' along nerve cells or 'neurons' and their transmission across the interconnections or 'synapses'. The number of neurons in the brain is fixed at birth and no new neurons grow and develop. In a natural process of learning, existing synapses are strengthened and new ones are created. It is this modification of synaptic connections or 'synapse modification' which produces structural changes in the neural networks...  'neuroplasticity'.

Natural learning is enhanced with mental absorption process or 'immersion'. The immersion process facilitates learning of rigorous and challenging content when it is presented in a meaningful context which is embedded in the totality of past and future experience. The effectiveness of learning depends on whether the immersion process is hindered or helped. Teaching methods which hinder the immersion process inhibit learning because they interfere with the formation of synapses. They are antagonistic to the natural processes of brain functioning or 'brain-antagonistic'. Methods which help the immersion process enhance learning because they enhance the formation of synapses. They are compatible with brain functioning or 'brain-compatible'. Brain-compatible learning is confluent with the natural capacity of the brain to process factual information from different perspectives.

Optimalearning engages the brain's 'holistic perspective'. The holistic perspective engages the senses as well as the intellect or 'cognition'. Cognition engages the 'learning emotions' of curiosity, wonder and reverential fear or 'awe' and also confusion, disorientation and agony. The learning emotions stimulate inquiry which leads to the intelligent expression of reflective thought or 'philosophy'. Philosophy is the engagement of reason and argument in the process of seeking knowledge of reality or 'truth'. Learning for truth is creative learning for meaning of content in context i.e. for understanding or 'intelligence'. Intelligent learning is the optimalearning of intrinsic motivation for personal growth. Intrinsically motivated learning is experienced with joy because it involves the imagination in an active process of making connections between new knowledge and knowledge which has already been acquired. Optimalearning for personal growth strengthens learner confidence in the ability to adapt or 'adaptability'. Adaptability is enhanced with security and awareness of one's own powers or 'self-awareness'.

The holistic response of the brain involves the activation of its capacities for comparing, patterning, categorizing and making connections between parts and wholes i.e. global or 'holistic learning'. Holistic learning is 'natural learning' i.e. 'brain-based learning'. Natural learning is a function of the brain's survival-oriented capacity for making sense or 'meaning of complex environmental stimuli or 'processing information'. The brain processes information all the time by means of natural 'brain functions': the propagation of signals or 'nerve impulses' along nerve cells or 'neurons' and the transmission of nerve impulses across the connecting points between neurons i.e. 'synapses'. The number of neurons in the brain is fixed at birth. It is the number of synapses which changes with natural learning. Existing synapses are strengthened and new ones are created. The modification of synaptic connections or 'synapse modification' produces structural changes in the networks of neurons or 'neural networks' i.e. 'neuroplasticity'. Neuroplasticity constitutes the physical  'memory trace' or 'engram'.  Optimal brain-based learning uses to full advantage the brain's capacity to make connections. It is based on the acknowlegement of the brain's natural rules for meaningful learning. The brain's naturally holistic response to environmental stimuli... optimalearning ... requires only one learning trial and therefore represents a more efficient use of  the brain's potential.

...result in the activation of those internal states ('relaxed alertness') which are compatible with learning.

 Optimal learning requires the activation of the brain's natural functioning of comparing, patterning and categorizing. These natural functions of the brain are activated by specific teacher characteristics, teaching methods and external settings which are processed as peripheral stimuli. Brain-compatible learning is brain based learning based on the brain's rules for searching for meaning in experience. So-called 'brain-antagonistic learning' involves the imposition of  non-meaningful stimuli and meets with the brain's resistance and inhibits the formation of synaptic connections. Learning which enhances the formation of synaptic connections enhances learning.

 ...is creative learning or personal learning of growth and development required for adaptation to changing conditions i.e. 'adaptability'. Adaptability is enhanced by optimalearning for normal personal development or 'personal growth' i.e. 'personalised learning' . Personalised learning depends on security and awareness of one's own powers i.e.  'confidence', 'self-awareness', 'self-knowledge'. Self-knowledge is the basis for development of the integration of behavior and perception or 'personality congruence' - a natural outcome of  personal growth. Education for personal growth involves learning activities or 'lessons' in which learners can participate creatively in their own learning; they can internalize the content and reorganize the lesson in ways which are personally meaningful and valuable. In a learning mode of 'active processing' they expand their personal knowledge or 'natural knowledge' or 'perceptual knowledge' which provides personal meaning to one's world and purpose. Natural knowledge depends on creative learning which is inherently so challenging, compelling and absorbing that even the memorization of facts becomes part of the creative process.

Optimalearning is intrinsically motivated ... learning in the 'flow state' or 'flow learning'. The term 'flow learning' was coined by pioneer research in the field of happiness, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Chick-SENT-mehi) head of the Department of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Chicago... author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experiences.

 Flow experiences arise naturally from intrinsic motivation by virtue of the fact that we have a human mind which processes information.

 Biochemical function of 'happiness': the opiates of the body called 'endorphins' influence the immune system. Make connection with high level wellness... holistic health and spiritual well being.

 "We are discovering more and more that that all factors that go into physical, mental, and social well-being affect education and, in fact, function synergistically with optimal learning experiences."

Learner environment for optimalearning... the brain processes information on both 'conscious' and 'subconscious' levels of functioning environmental conditions What are the conditions for optimal learning? Optimal brain-based learning involves the optimization of the brain's capacity to make connections - involves the acknowlegement of the brain's rules for meaningful learning and organizing teaching with those rules in mind. 

 Conscious and unconscious perception of environmental stimluli... Optimalearning is a function of the simultaneous processing of multitudinous stimuli in a complex environment. Perception of environental stimuli engages both conscious and unconscious levels of awareness. The brain consciously processes stimuli which are in the field of focused attention but many peripherally perceived stimuli are processed at the subconscious level. While processing information on the conscious level, the brain subconsciusly processes stimuli which are peripheral to the field of focused attention i.e 'peripheral perception'. The peripheral perception determines the context in which the brain processes stimuli on the conscious level. The conscious interpretation of stimuli in focus depends on the subconscious interpretation of peripheral stimuli. Meanings attached to peripheral stimuli determine the context in which meanings are attached to stimuli in the field of focused attention. Peripheral stimuli include both physical and social or 'cultural' environments (cultural context). Design of the learning environment for optimalearning accounts for both conscious and subconcious processing of environmental stimuli.

 The brain simultaneously processes multitudinous stimuli which make up the complexity of the environment in which it is immersed. Environmental stimuli are perceived at both conscious and unconscious levels of awareness. At the conscious level the brain processes environmental stimuli which are in the field of 'focused attention'. At the same time, it processes stimuli which are peripheral to the field of focused attention. Peripheral stimuli are perceived and processed at the subconscious level i.e 'peripheral perception'. The conscious interpretation of stimuli in focus - meanings attached to stimuli in the field of focused attention - depends on the context of the subconscious interpretation of peripheral stimuli. Peripheral perception is determined by stimuli of physical and social or 'cultural' environments i.e. 'cultural context'. The cultural context provides emotional forces originating from cultural values and beliefs or 'myth'. Cultural myth plays a significant role in the subconscious interpretation of environmental stimuli.

Role of the unconscious (subconscious)...  Optimalearning is based on the brain's capacity for perception of the whole i.e. 'global perception' or 'holistic perception'. Holistic perception engages the subconscious senses or 'emotions' as well as the conscious intellect or 'reason'. Emotions and reason operate together in a process of 'knowing' or 'cognition'. Cognition can be 'complete' or 'incomplete' depending on the type of 'learning emotion'  operating subconsciously in the interpretation and evaluation of environmental stimuli. Learning emotions constitute the source of the individual's subconscious 'drives' behind motivation for learning i.e.  'intrinsic motivation'. Intrinsic motivation is a function of the individual's intrinsic motives for learning or 'human needs'. Human needs include the so-called 'higher needs' - 'spiritual needs' or 'metaneeds' for 'ego-transcendance' as well as the so-called 'lower needs' -'basic psychological needs' or 'ego needs' for security and self-esteem. The type of learning emotion  - 'motivational type' - depends on the individual's level of psychological or 'moral' development i.e. 'sociognitive stage' of personality development. If personality development is thwarted then the individual is motivated by the 'negative learning emotions' which are characteristic of thwarted growth and 'neurotic development' or 'neurosis' - fear, frustration, confusion, disorientation and even agony. If personality development is encouraged then the individual is motivated by the 'positive learning emotions' which are characteristic of maturity or 'self-actualisation'  - curiosity, wonder and even reverential fear or 'awe'.

Curiosity, wonder and awe: learning emotions which lead to development of conscience and social intelligence The learning emotions of 'curiosity' and 'wonder' stimulate inquiry of 'scientific activity' or 'science'. Science is the engagement of reason and argument in the process of seeking knowledge of reality or 'truth'. Learning for truth is creative learning for meaning of content in context i.e. for understanding or 'intelligence'. Intelligence is the ability to discern the essential and highly awakened intelligence is the ability to see problems and reach solutions without consciously knowing all the facts i.e. 'intuition'. Enhanced intuition depends on reflective thinking or 'contemplation' which originates in a state of mental difficulty - doubt, hesitation, perplexity. Contemplative reflection is a process of inquiring in the search for information to test conclusions suggested by facts and events of life and that will resolve the doubt and remove the perplexity. Inquiry is stimulated if the state of doubt is sustained and protracted so that an idea or belief is not accepted until evidence has been found to support it... 'critical faculties' of 'critical consciousness' i.e. the practice of criticism or 'critical practice'. Critical practice is necessary for accurate evaluation, rational decision-making and creative or 'adaptive' behaviour i.e. 'adaptability'. Critical practice leads to the intelligent expression of contemplation or 'philosophy'. Philosophical attitude depends on development of moral consciousness or 'conscience' - the source of 'human values' for living and the basis for 'social intelligence' required for adaptability. Intuition of developed conscience is the true guide for living. Development of conscience depends on intrinsically motivated optimalearning which involves the imagination in an active process of making connections between new knowledge and knowledge which has already been acquired i.e. learning from experience or 'experiential learning' Experiential learning is joyful learning because it is functional in personal growth.

The learning environment should be structured and designed to account for the brain's subconscious registering of peripheral stimuli. An environment for optimal learning will be particularly conducive to learning - in an appropriate 'peripheral context' - with the right surroundings, lighting, noise level - with a view to stimulating students' interest and motivation.  

compatible with the brain's natural functioning: 'immersion' and 'embeddedness'

 Learners naturally perceive the 'embeddedness' of one subject in another. One subject or issue is always related to many other subjects or issues. There is an interconnectedness between facts and several subjects, and within the subjects. The various subjects are understood in the context of relationships with other subjects in terms of underlying meanings or 'themes'. Teaching and learning designed around connecting themes is 'thematic teaching'. The effectiveness of teaching depends on whether it helps or hinders the immersion process. If the immersion process is hindered then there is interference with the formation of new neural networks and learning is inhibited. So-called 'brain-antagonistic' teaching methods antagonize the natural processes of brain functioning and inhibit natural learning. If the immersion process is helped then this stimulates the formation of new neural networks and learning is enhanced. So-called 'brain-compatible' teaching methods are compatible with brain functioning and so enhance natural learning. Brain-compatible learning is confluent with the brain's natural capacity to process information from different perspectives and thereby increases the individual's capacity for adaptability.  

The immersion process can be helped or hindered not only by the teaching methods but also by family and social environments. The content and values of schooling must be supported in social and life experiences. Brain research supports this. Optimal learning and brain's capacity to see patterns: The student naturally looks for larger patterns. The brain is a pattern detector. The wholistic perspective is natural. One fact can be seen in many different contexts. One subject or issue is always related to many other subjects or issues. There is an interconnectedness between facts and several subjects, and within the subjects. A subject is understood if relationships with other areas is recognized. In this way the subject or facts 'make sense' and have meaning. It is a natural process of the brain to make sense of the environment for survival of the organism. The brain processes information all the time. It naturally responds in a global way to the context of the environment in which it is immersed. Education can be upgraded by recognizing the power of the locale memory and teaching for map learning. Material to be larned must be related to material already learned. Teaching Methodologies for educators of natural knowledge: Provide opportunities for learners to see global relationships, to make connections, to extract meaningful patterns. The function of the teacher is to facilitate learning by organizing educational experiences through a process o 'orchestrated immersion.' The learner must experience 'immersion' in an orchestrated educational environment. 1. Thematic teaching: choose an organizing theme for understanding the subject matter. When learning is focused on a unifying theme, the learner naturally capitalizes on the brain's innate drive to make sense of incoming stimuli and to derive meaning from experience. Within the framework of the chosen theme, the brain makes connections between different subject areas.

In order to maximize optimal learning, the learner needs to be able to make associations and perceive the parts which make up the whole. The learner needs to be able to 'orchestrate' all his learning experiences. In the natural mental process of 'immersion', each new learning experience becomes embedded in the totality of previous experience. With each new piece of information processed by the brain, associations are made with the rest of the learner's current and past experiences and knowledge. The natural immersion process can be hindered or helped depending on the teaching methods being used. Through the 'immersion process', the student makes an increasing number of associations with other learning experiences. If the immersion process is hindered, fewer associations are made. If the immersion process is helped, more associations are made. Those teaching and learning methods which inhibit learning inhibit the formation of synaptic connections between nerve cells.

 Barriers to optimalearning The real impediment to learning is fear - fear of making mistakes, fear of failing to carry out specific tasks and failing to meet specified requirements or 'learning outcomes'.

 

"Events and teacher behaviours which block learning: they create internal states which are incompatible with the acquisitons of new prosters, incompatible with learning or 'brain incompatible.' Lozanov refers to three types of 'barriers' to learning: first the 'intuitive/affective' barrier in response to information processed on the intuitive/affective level. It is set up in the presence of real or imagined threat initiated by a mistrust or fear of the teacher. The learning process becomes focused on the need for defense against the perceived threat. The brain 'downshifts.' Reasoning and problem-solving capacities of the higher brain are 'downshifted' or abandoned and emotions of the limbic system (older brain) take over; second, the 'critical/logical barrier' in response to new information processed at the critical /logical level. It is set up with the processing of new information which does not make sense or which "creates cognitive dissonance."  third, ethical barriers are set up with the processing of infomation which contradicts the student's principles, values or beliefs. The barriers are naturally protective and spontaneous resulting in a downshifting of the brain's capacities for optimal learning. Any kind of distracting influences can raise barriers against optimal learning. In addition, physical and environmental factors, such as hunger, cold etc. raise barriers to optimal learning. To be effective towards optimal learning, teaching methods and strategies need to acknowledge these various aspects of internal processing." (Caine, Renate Nummela and Caine, Geoffrey Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Virginia 1991)

Implications for education... A reconceptualisation of teaching, based on a knowledge of brain functioning, can enhance learning... EDUCATION FOR OPTIMALEARNING IS EDUCATION FOR PERSONAL GROWTH Self-evaluation is the basis for development of the integration of behavior and perception or 'congruence'. Congruence is a natural outcome of normal personal development or 'personal growth'. Education for personal growth involves learning activities or 'lessons' in which learners can participate creatively in their own learning; they can internalize the content and reorganize the lesson in ways which are personally meaningful and valuable. In a learning mode of 'active processing' they expand their personal knowledge or 'natural knowledge'. Natural knowledge is perceptual knowledge which provides meaning to one's world and purpose. Creative learning for natural knowledge is inherently challenging, compelling and absorbing. Even the memorization of facts becomes part of the creative process.

Successful teaching methodologies are those which recognize and encourage the learning process as a natural phenomenon. They teach to the natural function of the brain as a pattern detector. The brain has a natural capacity for organizing information and recognizing interrelationships. Teaching to the brain's natural functioning, the methodologies of brain-based learning teach for 'meaningful knowledge' that makes sense to the learner. They provide the learner with experiences which enable them to perceive the 'patterns which connect.' (Bateson, G. "Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity." New York: Bantam Books, 1980)

With a view to the optimal use of the brain's natural capacity for organizing information and perceiving relationships, teaching methodologies are formulated with a view to the underlying themes which unify different 'subjects' and 'disciplines.' teaching, based on a knowledge of brain functioning, can enhance learning By ignoring the natural functioning of the brain, 'brain-antagonistic education' deprives the learner's brain of the opportunity for its own natural develpment. By ignoring the brain's natural function as a pattern detector, it reduces the learner's capacities for understanding relationships.

  Learning is meaningful because the learning activities or 'lessons' are connected with real life experience. So-called 'lesson plans' are based on the capitalisation of the brain's innate capacity to 'make sense' of experience so that it has meaning. Subject matter is presented in real life context providing learners with opportunities for 'multisensory representation' - demonstrations, projects, field trips, talks, discussions, record taking, problem solving and so on. These engage the potential of the subconscious - the senses or 'emotions' - as well as the potential of the conscious - thinking or 'reason'. Such activities allow for different forms of self-expression - artistic, verbal, tactile, emotional, intellectual and so on.

Self-evaluation is the basis for growth through learning or 'holistic education'

Methods of holistic education encourage learners to develop skills of inquiry and research... to talk about their achievements thereby contributing to their sense of 'mastery' and 'confidence' which is required for adaptability to the responsibilities of 'freedom'.

Pedagogies based on the natural functioning of the brain... optimalearning... are 'brain-compatible'... 'brain compatible' education acknowledges the value of 'brain-based learning.'  Brain-compatible' teaching methodologies account for the innate capacity of the brain to perceive parts and wholes simultaneously. They perceive the relationships between different subjects. They perceive the 'embeddedness' of one subject in another. The concept of 'embeddedness' applied to school subjects- there is overlap between them. The ability to perceive and understand the interpenetration, the 'embeddedness' of one subject in another, the interrelationships, the themes, the patterns, etc. is consistent with brain-based learning. Presenting subject mater in the way is teaching to the natural capacities of the brain. Learning in this way is following the natural capacities of the brain. Split-brain research (Sperry) provided the physiological explanation for the brain's innate capacity to deal with parts and wholes at the same time.

Creative teaching methodology focuses on the importance of a non-threatening environment for optimalearning: providing for safety and security through friendship and companionship, providing for stability, familiarity, novelty, discovery and challenge through realistic perceptions, mutual respect and responsible freedom. The ideal learning environment is characterised by social relationships  in which facilitators and learners are both 'teacher' and 'student'. In a learning environment which is supportive and challenging, learners feel safe and secure - 'relaxed'.  At the same time they feel  challenged and motivated - 'alert'. 'Relaxed alertness' is a state of mind in which the brain is stimulated to make optimal use of its natural learning potential - to engage in optimalearning. For effective learning, students must be engaged in 'active processing.' Teaching methodologies should emphasize learning procedures by which students can actively reorganize the material in personally meaningful and valuable ways. Ignoring the personal world of the learner with overemphasis of facts can interfere with the development of understanding and inhibit the brain's effective functioning. An overemphasis on the rote learning capacity of the brain is an inefficient use of its potential.

Teacher's role as facilitator is to raise learner confidence with a tolerant and positive attitude towards error. The intelligent use of error is the basis for the enhancement of learning. The cautious correction of mistakes does not interfere with the communication of meaning. Meaningful learning is based on self-correction and assessment of one's own capabilities in a realistic process of self-evaluation.

 Peripheral stimuli include both physical and social or 'cultural' environments (cultural context)

. The function of the teacher is to facilitate the natural learning process by teaching to the brain's natural potential for optimalearning and organizing the appropriate learning environments

 The complex learning environment is orchestrated so that the learner experiences immersion i.e. 'orchestrated immersion' 

 Teachers are genuine and their genuine feelings are discerned by learners ...

 The funcion of the educators is to facilitate the orchestration process... providing opportunities for learners to see global relationships, to make connections, to extract meaningful patterns (thematic teaching).

The teacher as 'facilitator' has genuine feelings and attitudes or 'attributes' which the learner discerns on the subconscious level of awareness. The facilitative teacher 'orchestrates' the complexity of the learning environment so that the learner experiences 'orchestrated immersion'. In a process of optimalearning, the learner makes connections between parts and wholes and in this way orchestrates their own learning experiences. The ffacilitative teacher provides the learners with opportunities to see global relationships, to make connections, to extract meaningful patterns thus facilitating the orchestration process.The effective teacher capitalises on learner capacity for active processing, emphasizing context as well as content - raising learner confidence by way of the intelligent use of 'error'. A tolerant and positive attitude towards learner 'mistakes'  does not interfere with the communication of meaning and thus enhances 'meaningful learning'. The facilitative teacher capitalises on the brain's capacity for 'self-correction' derived from the learner's capacity to assess their own capabilities in a realistic process of 'self-evaluation'. Self-evaluation is the basis for development of the integration of behaviour and perception or 'congruence'. Congruence is a natural outcome of normal personal development or 'personal growth'

 In a learning mode of 'active processing' they expand their personal knowledge or 'natural knowledge'.

The function of the teacher is to 'facilitate' the natural process of optimalearning by creating appropriate learning environments.

 "We never educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment. Whether we permit chance environments to do the work, or whether we design environments for the purpose makes a great deal of difference. And any environment is a chance environment so far as its educative influence is concerned unless it has been deliberately regulated with reference to its educative effect."  (John Dewey Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education New York: The Free Press 1966)

Planning of learner activities  The function of the teacher is to facilitate the natural learning process by teaching to the brain's natural potential for optimalearning and organizing the appropriate learning environments (teacher as facilitator). The learning environment is designed in a way which accounts for both conscious and subconcious processing of environmental stimuli. Creative teaching methodology focuses on the design of learning environments which provide for security, stability, familiarity, novelty, discovery and challenge. Friendship and companionship contribute to safety and security and are thus important for reducing threat. A non-threatening environment for optimalearning is characterised by realistic perceptions, mutual respect and responsible freedom. Ideal social relationships exist in which everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher. Teachers are genuine and their genuine feelings are discerned by learners ...teacher attributes. In a learning environment which is supportive and challenging, learners feel safe and secure but challenged and motivated or 'relaxed and alert'. 'Relaxed alertness' is a state of mind in which the brain is stimulated to make optimal use of its natural learning potential... to foster optimalearning. The complex learning environment is orchestrated so that the learner experiences immersion i.e. 'orchestrated immersion' (lesson plans). In a process of optimalearning, the learner makes connections between parts and wholes and in this way orchestrate the various learning experiences. The funcion of the educators is to facilitate the orchestration process... providing opportunities for learners to see global relationships, to make connections, to extract meaningful patterns (thematic teaching). Effective classroom teaching for optimalearning is based on learner capacity for active processing. Emphasis is on context as well as content. Learning is meaningful because the lessons are connected with real life experience. Presentation of subject matter in real life context capitalises on the brain's innate capacity to 'make sense' of experience. Learners are provided with opportunities for 'multisensory representation'...activities which engage the feelings and the senses as well as thought processes and which allow for different forms of self-expression - artistic, verbal, tactile, emotional, intellectual and so on. Learners are encouraged to develop skills of inquiry and research while engaged in demonstrations, projects, field trips, talks, discussions, record taking, problem solving and so on. They talk about the experience and this contributes to their mastery of the subject matter. Learners naturally perceive the 'embeddedness' of one subject in another. One subject or issue is always related to many other subjects or issues. There is an interconnectedness between facts and several subjects, and within the subjects. A subject is understood if relationships with other areas is recognized. In this way the subject or facts 'make sense' and have meaning. With optimalearning, the rate of assimilation is two to three times faster than with traditional methods of rote learning; hence the 'accelerated method'.

              

References: Barzak Educational Institute in San Francisco for information on Barzakov such as Optimalearning (TM) Workshop

 The 'pursuit of 'happiness' as learning...

"Learning is time invested in yourself, in the growth and development of your own unique experience."

We must not forget that much of what happens in the school is in the context of a larger society in action...the impact of the world beyond the school cannot be underestimated. In terms of immersion and how the brain learns, all of society participates in education. We need to think in new, global ways about education generally." (Caine 125)

 The natural functions of the brain are activated by specific teacher characteristics, teaching methods and external settings which are processed as peripheral stimuli. Teaching for map learning capitalizes on a natural process in the brain which is learning from experience. A pedagogy needs to be implemented which allows new 'taxon' content to be embedded in "rich, lifelike and well-orchestrated experiences that require genuine interactions." "In effect, we need to give students real experiences, engaging all their systems and their curiosity and involving them in appropriate physical movement, social interactions, practical projects , uses of language and creative enterprises." (Caine? 47)

  THEMATICAL ORGANIZATION uses 'global themes' as organizers of meaning. The course is organised around a central theme which is based on an archetype that has universal application. The theme provides for large scope which makes it possibleto introduce material from other subject areas.

This kind of teaching is epitomized in THEMATIC TEACHING and in the INTEGRATION OF THE CURRICULUM Such teaching methods are powerful and effective because they orchestrate complex experiences in a way which takes advantage of the natural potential capacities of the brain. Thematic teaching methods are complex and integrated. They are based on the relevance of real life learning contexts in the classroom, in the school setting, the local community, the national community and the global community. The various subjects are related to each other and made meaningful in the context of real life experiences. Provided in a meaningful context, a rigorous content becomes intellectually challenging. The learner is stimulated to make optimal use of the brain's natural capacities. Learning is focused on the detection of patterns and interrelationships. Learning is focused on the detection of relationships between parts and wholes. The learner engages the brain's natural capacity for making connections betweeen the parts and the whole. The learning process becomes confluent with the brain's natural capacity for a holistic perspective. Engaging the emotions as well as the intellect, the learner becomes highly self-motivated. The learner is free to engage the brain's natural capacity and potential for creativity. Learning becomes a process of growth and creation and is experienced with joy. "One common thrust of many new methods of teaching is that they have this sense of the wholeness that emerges out of seeing how academic subjects relate to each other and how human beings relate to the subjects."

 There is a fundamental shift in the conceptualization of 'teaching' and 'learning'. The function of teaching is the facilitation of learning as a natural process based on optimal brain functioning or 'optimalearning'. The traditional teaching paradigm ignores the personal world - inner life - of the learner and emphasizes memorization or 'rote learning'. Learning by rote divorces learning from meaningful creativity. Non-creative learning interferes with the brain's capacity for making connections and understanding the hidden truths of reality i.e. 'insight'. 'Insight' is the capacity for making connections and understanding the hidden truths of 'reality'. Loss of the insightful aspect of learning results in superficial or 'surface knowledge'. Rote learning for surface knowledge requires many learning trials and is an inefficient use of the brain's potential. The number of trials is reduced with the discovery and creation of new connections and patterns or 'prosters'. Learning for prosters involves the optimal functioning of the brain's natural potential for meaningful learning i.e. optimal learning or 'optimalearning'. Optimalearning engages the spatial memory system of the hippocampus. Spatial memory requires only one learning trial and involves a more efficient use of the brain's potential.

What are the conditions which maximize optimal learning? Educators need to orchestrate the learners' experiences. "Every complex event embeds information in the brain and links what is being learned to the rest of the learner's current experiences, past knowledge, and future behaviour." This is a characteristic property of the brain which should be exploited in the learning process. Teaching methods should "expand the content and context" through a process of 'immersion.' The student's natural capacity for 'immersion' in content and context should be utilized in the learning process. The natural immersion process can be hindered or helped depending on the teaching methods being used. Through the 'immersion process' the student makes an increasing number of connections to other learning experiences. If the immersion process is hindered, fewer connections are made. If the immersion process is helped, more connections aremade.

 teacher characteristics for optimal learning....'attrib tes' are perceived both consciously and unconsciously... the teacher naturally commands respect and admiration by expressing a personal understanding of the subject and its relationship to other subjects and life experiences. Projecting a genuine concern for students, the teacher of integrity generates trust and affection. A teacher with these attributes functions as a magnet with the powerful effect of stimulating students and inviting them to learn.

Ivan Barzakov expanded on Lozanov's theory of teaching. His teaching model includes 'brain compatible' features.

  The teaching model calls for the teacher to 'orchestrate' complex, 'real world' teaching environments. What may appear to be a spontaneous learning environment, is in fact, the result of precise planning. Such planning focuses almost entirely on how the classroom can create 'here and now' experiences for the student, rather than on expected outcomes. The expected outcomes are goals that guide the lesson from pre-exposure to recreation, but they are not the focus of planning.This is important because it virtually eliminates the threat of meeting specified outcomes, and it allows what Barzakov calls 'educative feedback to guide learning.' Both student and teacher look upon learning as an expansion of knowledge similar to Hart's acquisition of prosters and not as the accomplishment of goals to be evaluated and rewarded."made. Children need to talk about what they have learned.

'Making connections'  refers to pedagogical methodologies which can be implemented so that in the process of natural brain-based learning for natural knowledge, students will make connections between different areas of knowledge.

Cohen 1984 The Social Context of Instruction, 171-187

 Crowell, S. 1989 "A New Way of Thinking: The Challenge of the Future." Educational Leadership 47, 1: 60