Brain-targeted teaching is a bold new approach in the classroom

Children are not progressing well enough in their learning either to maximize their individual potential as human beings or to meet the collective requirements of a modern economy. We need to see dramatic improvements in the progress that children make in their learning. This requires bold thinking and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. The Forum for Life-Based Learning supports one such approach that is centred on teaching children the way the brain learns — ‘brain-targeted teaching’.

An online article, 6 Targets to Teach the Way the Brain Learns, sets out the basics of the brain-targeted approach in an accessible way, linking insights from neuroscience to actual classroom practice. It summarises a framework developed by Dr Mariale Hardiman, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in the USA.

The six targets (in simplified, non-technical terms) are:

  • Establishing the right emotional climate for learning so that children are relaxed and ready for learning
  • Paying attention to the physical learning space
  • Designing learning so that children connect old and new information
  • Teaching for ‘mastery’ of a topic so that children begin to store information in long-term memory
  • Encouraging children to be creative, especially with new information they have acquired
  • Helping children to evaluate their learning, particularly through assessments that give them useful and timely feedback

Although we may agree or disagree on the particular ‘targets’ (something that I will return to in future posts), it is the overall approach that I wish to draw attention to here — one that is informed by the way that the brain works.

The Forum for Life-Based Learning believes that we need to reform the school curriculum for young children. The Mind is one of nine learning themes — each with equal priority — through which we believe the individual subjects of the UK National Curriculum should be taught, in order to equip children with the knowledge, skills and values to tackle the challenges they will meet as adults.

By harnessing learning to the way the brain learns, life-based learning brings a crucial new dimension to children’s education. It is by working the way the brain learns that children will make accelerated learning progress.

Benefits of LBL

Click to read more about the benefits of a life-based approach to learning

Brain-Targeted Teaching

Visit the brain-targeted teaching website

An Urgent Priority

Why we need a long-term strategy around learning and the brain

Image at the head of this article by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

2 Comments on “Brain-targeted teaching is a bold new approach in the classroom

  1. Found this very interesting on two accounts. The first relating to a classroom in a previous school which created the learning environment which enhanced sensory experiences of the children and also the safety and security necessary for us to learn in which was referred to here. The preparation and effort required by the teacher and her assistant to achieve these goals was huge but boy, was it worthwhile. Reading your inculusion about brain targeted learning has given me a better understanding of the thinking underpinning her approach, I wish I had read it then. Secondly, the third point refering to mastery and its relationship to long-term memory as well as the value of pupil self assessment adds to evidence I am researching on on the different purposes, forms, interpretations and uses (or misuse s) of assessment tools and results in learning. Following up on this aspect I have found some of the work of David Didau, Dylan Wiliam and Andrew Sabisky of interest with particular regard to the value of formative assessment and peer and self-assessment as well as co-operative learning. Thanks for the links through this article as well as the one in your previous blog which I will be following up.

  2. Huw,
    First of all, thanks for sticking with us as one of our earlier subscribers to our blogs in your inbox.
    Assessment is a topic I have avoided in my expose of Life-Based Learning, preferring others to draw conclusions on the kinds of assessments that would naturally follow from the LBL approach. With reference to the key area of mind development, it seems to me the creation of genuine learners leaves little room for summative assessment, certainly as practised by Central Government through the exam system where, year on year, some 30 to 40% student failure rate is built into the system at GCSE level. I have the impression from your comment that a book is in the offing. Any article, or blog posts you care to provide we can add to our blog output and would very much welcome doing so. We are currently looking for subscribers to the blog and the work you are doing would be invaluable to the LBL story. I will email you further information on our thoughts re blog post creation. All the best for now. Michael

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