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.

 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 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.

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'.

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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