Our blog has a new name, “The Learning Capacity Blog”.
The reason is that Learning Capacity is something that's being talked about now increasingly in education circles.
It's a new paradigm of education. It moves beyond “Let's improve the teacher, let's improve the curriculum” to, “Let's improve the learning capacity of the students so they can assimilate more of the best teaching and great curriculum that schools offer.”
One of the reasons why this concept is gaining more attention, and will gain significantly more attention in future, is the knowledge that has come out of cognitive neuroscience research about how brains learn.
Firstly, the neuroscientists have demonstrated that all our brains are plastic, which means that they are able to change, adapt, grow, and develop throughout our lives.
For students, because they're young, their brain plasticity is extremely high.
Secondly, the research has delineated the principles that need to be engaged to enable the brain's plasticity to make permanent changes in the capacity of students to learn.
These principles are:
- Brains need to be exercised intensively.
- The exercises need to be done frequently.
- They need to be challenging. But only challenging enough so that they're not too difficult that they discourage a learner, and they're not so easy that the learner becomes bored.
- The learner needs to get timely feedback as to the success or otherwise of their responses to stimuli in the exercises.
When you think about it, we've always known these principles. We have always known that to learn something we need to practice it, we need to do lots of it, we need to do it regularly, and we need to know how we're going, whether we're getting it right or not.
Just think of anything that you've learned in your life, whether it's a sport, say tennis or golf, whether it's learning a musical instrument, or whether it's learning to recite a poem.
I'm sure that you will recall that you had to practice frequently, practice intensively. If the exercise you're working on, like the tennis stroke, or musical score was too hard for you, if it was continuously too hard, you had a tendency to get demoralized. If it was too easy, you didn't learn as much as if it was at your threshold of difficulty.
The great thing is that computer technology now enables educators to increase the learning capacity of their students by using scientifically designed mental exercises that incorporate these fundamental learning principles.
Impact as great as clean drinking water
I believe we will come to see that our ability to increase students' learning capacity will have an impact on society as profound as the provision of clean drinking water had on human health. How soon that happens depends on how well we can engage more and more people in this discussion. LearnFast is working on that every day.
Our vision is that every student in Australia and New Zealand will one day have the oportunity to optimise their learning capacity in the first few years of school.
We are wasting teaching resources if students' brains are not ready to learn.