Sit still . . . be quiet . . . learning very much?

Research and practical experience tell us that movement facilitates learning and has a positive effect on student achievement, yet many students are expected to quietly sit in their seats for long periods of time. It makes one wonder who told educators that a quiet classroom is the best learning classroom for all students. Where does the thinking come from that students learn well when the learning experience is filled with worksheets, lectures, quizzes, tests?

Consider this – only 25% of all of us are primary auditory channel learners. With that in mind, why do so many teachers continue to teach in a verbal-linguistic mode and virtually ignore how the other 75% learn best? Another piece of data from Marcus Conyers, professor at Nova Southeastern University, tells us that 15% of students arrive at school as left hemisphere, linear & auditory processors.

We also know that more is learned when more senses are integrated at the time of learning . . . not only learned, but also retained! We also know that 85% of what we learn is learned by association, and association is facilitated in a multisensory learning environment . . . not in a unisensory one.

When instruction methods are based on how the teacher learned best and not how their students would learn best (that discovery comes from knowing your students), an instructional mismatch can result. There has been much written about brain-based teaching, and practice-based evidence shows us that a wider swath of students do better when more learning channels are engaged in a balanced and coordinated fashion.

With the advent of science that can be linked to the classroom through fMRI studies, we now can literally see where and to what degree parts of the brain are activated. These imaging studies have shown that the cerebellum is activated when there is movement and is the only thing that unites all brain levels and integrates the right and left hemispheres of young learners. In addition, neuroscientists have discovered that the brain’s cerebellum, involved in most learning, operates at a high capacity during times of movement.

Knowing that the cerebellum is important for attention and learning, and that it operates at high capacity when movement is involved, it behooves educators to invest more thought into how to utilize movement to maximize the learning of their students.

© 2011  Dave Krupke  All Rights Reserved