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The Learning Success Blog

Tilly Stevens

Tilly Stevens is an archaeologist. She grew up in Sydney and works in the UK where she’s been able to dig up Roman forts and the like. She has been tutoring high school students since 2011, specialising in Ancient, Modern and Extension history, English and providing essay writing workshops.

Tilly has been involved with LearnFast Group since 2014 when she began working to help distribute Fast ForWord learning programs to schools and homes. She did this while completing her final year of her Undergraduate degree at Macquarie University, Sydney before moving to York in the UK to study a Masters degree in Field Archaeology.

Tilly is also an avid dancer, participating in (and teaching) many forms of dance. This includes most forms of partner dancing from ballroom and Latin to salsa and west coast swing. She is also very passionate about all things Italian – food, wine, language and history. It is this passion which led her to visit the country 4 years in a row and to participate in several seasons of excavations in Tuscany.

Recent Posts

Eyes Not Necessarily the Window to the Soul for People with Autism

Posted by Tilly Stevens on June 21, 2017 at 4:57 PM

Tilly Stevens

It is a common understanding that individuals with autism will not, or do not like to look others in the eye. This can be distressing and even hurtful to those who love and care for such individuals.

This tendency to avoid eye contact has led to the conception that people with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) are ‘uncaring’ or can’t engage emotionally.

However new research shows that this may be a misconception. Those with ASD may be avoiding eye contact because it is physically uncomfortable to them, not because they do not want to engage with others.

Instead, it is likely that any lack of emotional development or understanding is actually a symptom of this discomfort. Autistic individuals often want (or need) to avoid eye contact and thereby may miss a lot of the emotional development encountered by reacting to facial expressions.  This then ‘stunts’ their emotional development and abilities.

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Topics: Autism

Spoon-feeding students – hand it out, or let them starve?

Posted by Tilly Stevens on June 8, 2017 at 1:32 PM

Tilly Stevens

This idea of “spoon-feeding; students gets kicked around a lot these days. But what really is meant by this phrase? Is it a bad thing and should we stop it? If so, how can we?

In an interview on The Learning Capacity Podcast, learning specialist Richard Andrew described spoon-feeding as:

“Any process which robs students of the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning.”

According to Richard there are two types of spoon-feeding – explicit and implicit.

Explicit includes behaviour such as providing notes to students so they can “pass” an exam (here Richard really emphasises the idea of merely passing).

Implicit spoon-feeding includes the teacher-centered learning approach that many schools have in place. Through this, teachers teach to or ‘at’ students – “do what I do and know what I know” as Richard puts it.

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Topics: Teaching

Paying Attention: It's Harder Than You Think

Posted by Tilly Stevens on April 19, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Tilly Stevens

We might think this is a simple case of distraction. But attention is in fact a much more complex function than most people realise. Do you ever forget what you came into a room to get? Or, have you ever been listening to an audio book only to realise that you stopped paying attention several pages back?

The following article by speech language pathologist and neuroscience educator, Dr Martha Burns, explains attention and describes how we can improve it by specific types of training.  The article was first published in The Science of Learning Blog.

In fact, trying to figure out exactly what attention is, and why some children find it easier than others, especially in school, has been the focus of psychologists for years.  As adults, we realise that the ability to attend carefully to a task, ignore distractions and stick with it, is something that takes time for children to develop.

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Topics: Attention

Do Girls Really Have More Maths Anxiety than Boys?

Posted by Tilly Stevens on April 18, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Tilly Stevens

A recent study of 15-year-old students in 60 countries found girls tend to experience higher ‘maths anxiety’ than boys.

This seems to support the clichéd belief – boys are good at mathematics and sciences and girls are good at the more artistic subjects.

The study found the sexes are equal in mathematical capability. But girls have a negative emotional association with STEM subjects. And this holds females back, the study revealed. This results in fewer females than males taking maths programs at university. (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  

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Topics: Maths

Musical brains and where they can take your children in the future

Posted by Tilly Stevens on April 18, 2017 at 10:29 AM

Tilly Stevens

It turns out that musical training can change our brains. Learning a musical instrument can improve cognitive functions such as motor function, auditory processing, emotion and social skills. 

Researchers at Mexico City’s Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez found 23 children showed dramatic changes in brain function after 9 months training with percussion instruments. 

The musical training made physical changes in the students’ brains. The two hemispheres of the brain communicated better. And the overall functioning of the children’s brains improved. Not only the brain regions related to music.

The results of this study suggest scientists may be able to develop music-based programs to help children with ADHD or autism.

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Topics: Brain Science, Music

Fast ForWord Founder: Award for Contribution to Neuroscience

Posted by Tilly Stevens on April 10, 2017 at 5:48 PM

Tilly Stevens

Fast ForWord founder Dr. Michael Merzenich has been awarded the Charles L Branch Brain Health Award by the University of Texas for his extraordinary contribution to neuroscience. 

Last year Dr Merzenich was also given the highest honour possible in the field of neuroscience – The Kavli Prize. This saw him granted a gold medal by the King of Norway and a banquet in his honour in the same venue as the Nobel Peace Prize.  

Dr Merzenich’s discovery of lifelong brain plasticity revolutionised the neuroscience world.

Plasticity describes the brain’s ability to learn by creating new connections between neurons within the brain.

Originally, it was thought that brains were only ‘plastic’ during early childhood as the brain developed. But Dr Merzenich’s research proved brains could change and adapt well into adulthood.

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Topics: Brain Science, Fast ForWord

Improve Executive Function with Fast ForWord123 Exercises

Posted by Tilly Stevens on April 3, 2017 at 5:28 PM

Tilly Stevens

Your brain is an amazing organ. Countless studies, experiments and articles have shown us this. The complexities and inner-workings of this powerhouse are still yet to be fully explored. 

Have you ever stopped to think what controls your brain? What prevents it from becoming mere chaos?

Well, it’s called Executive Function, and you need to know about it.

What is Executive Function and why do we need it?

Executive Function acts like the ultimate synthesiser – the general, one might say. It encompasses a range of abilities many people think are merely part of day-to-day functioning. These include:

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Topics: Fast ForWord

Latin Dancing & Brain Training: Keys to Brain Fitness?

Posted by Tilly Stevens on October 4, 2016 at 2:37 PM

Tilly Stevens

These days, we’ve come to understand that we can train our brains.

Obviously, the physical benefits of exercise have been preached and promoted for years now. Funny thing is, it seems that exercise also helps our brains.

The combination of these two forms of training, mind and body, benefit our brains more than if one or the other is undertaken.

Turns out, physical exercise actually serves to improve memory, says a study conducted by the University of Texas Dallas. 

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Topics: Brain Science, Memory, Fast ForWord, Music

How to Treat Dyslexia - What We Have Learnt in 40 Years

Posted by Tilly Stevens on March 8, 2015 at 9:30 AM

Tilly Stevens

In an interesting article, Dr. Martha Burns, adjunct professor at Northwestern University, Chicago, USA explains the journey of discovery that neuroscientists have undertaken in the past 40 years to understand the cause of dyslexia, as well as the most effective means of treating this debilitating condition.

Dr.Burns explains the history of our understanding of dyslexia, as it began in the 1970s with the recognition of dyslexia in patients as a developmental reading disorder. At the time the technology to understand the cause of the condition did not exist and thus the focus was on identification and treatment methods. However, Burns explains that this was merely treating the symptoms of the condition and was ineffective on eliminating the root of the problem.

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Topics: Dyslexia

Your happiness and its inextricable link to brain training

Posted by Tilly Stevens on February 12, 2015 at 3:16 PM

Tilly Stevens

Our emotions stem from our brains. It makes sense then that how happy we are is reflected within this organ. 

However, realizing just how much our happiness influences our brains (and vice versa) is, ironically enough, mind-blowing.

Interesting, and perhaps somewhat novel research is revealing the neurological reflections our emotions can have. Physical exercise has been proven to contribute significantly to an individual’s happiness with improvements seen in aspects such as personal body perception, even when no physical changes occurred. These benefits are not limited to physical training as brain training works on the same principles. Merely 7 minutes of exercise can make the brain ‘happy’

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Topics: Brain Science

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