The Brain and Teaching and Learning: Pt 2
Some of the most revolutionary ideas in teaching and learning have taken place over the past couple of decades.
Those ideas come out of a deeper understanding of the organic brain, cognitive psychology, and neuropsychology.
Studies in those fields have confirmed many things we’ve known (intuitively and through experience) about teaching and learning. And they’ve debunked other things we thought we knew about how people learn.
This five-part series (this is post #2) will focus on two aspects of brain-research-informed teaching and learning: (1) effective teacher behavior in classroom instruction and (2) insights about learning from research on the brain and learning.
In the next several blog entries I’ll share some insights from the course on the brain and learning.
Today’s brain and learning concept: the brain is social.
Bowen systems theory and developmental psychologists stress that individuals must always be seen as integral parts of larger social systems.
That concept has been affirmed in brain research.
Part of our identity depends on establishing a community and finding ways to belong.
We begin to be shaped as the immensely receptive brain interacts with our early environment and interpersonal relationships.
There are spiritual implications to the concept of a social brain:
- There is no self apart from community (relationship systems)
- If you want to understand “spiritual formation” you need to understand “brain formation” as a product of social networks and relationships
- Family of origin relationships “pattern” the brain—emotionally and cognitively–as does formative communities like church and school
- The brain changes in response to its engagement with others. Therefore, our relationship systems matter a great deal (dysfunctional relationship systems form a dysfunctional brain; healthy relationship systems foster healthy brains).
Implication for teaching and learning: Learning is always social. Lean toward collaborative modes and methods of learning over individual, isolating activities.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.
His books on education include Academic Leadership: Practical Wisdom for Deans and Administartors, Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), and Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice Press).