Since my first psychology class in high school, I have been fascinated by human behavior and how our minds work. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs particularly resonated with me because they made sense. If I am starving, I am going to focus on my empty stomach and filling it before I type another line in this blog. My brain will not let me forget my hunger until it is satisfied, or it is overridden by another stimulus. Once basic needs are met, our brains can focus on higher thinking.
In the early nineties, Maslow's Hierarchy spilled over into the learning world with the concept of brain-based learning. Brain-based learning postulated that our brains can change over time, are affected by diet, stress, exercise, environment, and, most importantly, how our brains work plays a role in how we learn. Simply stated: if I am hungry, cold, or sick, learning will not be a priority. Expecting children, or even adults, to sit in a chair and absorb information does not help them learn. Their minds are way more complex and need different approaches to help make learning happen.
Decades after Maslow and brain-based learning, neuroscience of learning has emerged. Technology now allows us to map brain activity during certain stimuli. We can literally map what our brain looks like when we are hungry! Fascinating and a little freaky. Neuroscience of learning studies how our brains create and respond to learning.
So that is a lovely short story of psychology, learning, and a little peek into mind invasions. Why should learning practitioners care? So that we can create more impactful learning experiences! Neuroscience is another tool that can help us optimize learning. For more information, ATD has a great article on why learning neuroscience matters. Growth Engineering has an interesting info-graphic to inspire your synapses.
By: Michele Hillary