More than just a superficial tease for a book, the Web site www.brainrules.net is part of a multi-media package. The book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina, Pear Press, 2008, and accompanying DVD present the author’s 12 rules for a healthy, productive brain based on scientific research. Completing the suite, The Web site uses audio, text, graphics, and video to provide an experience-rich summary of the principles presented in the book/DVD combo.
A developmental molecular biologist with an avid interest for how the brain takes in, organizes, and retains information, Medina’s products introduce non-scientists to the brain science behind his brain rules in an easy to understand format. And he enthusiastically provides suggestions for putting his principles to work to create an inquisitive, thriving brain. His goal is to help adults and children alike enhance their brain’s natural curiosity and capacity for learning in order to excel in work, school, and life.
Dr. Medina’s 12 brain rules and some of the implications for student learning follow.
- Exercise: Exercise boosts brain power—he states that sitting at a desk in a classroom (or cubicle) is a sure way to dull the brain’s powers. He suggests integrating movement into the learning environment.
- Survival: The human brain evolved, too—students may not perform well if they feel misunderstood, disconnected from the teacher, or fearful.
- Wiring: Every brain is wired differently—just as students vary by body type, so do their brains vary in the way they encode and use information.
- Attention: We don’t pay attention to boring things—emotional states that accompany learning enhance the brain’s recall. In addition, the brain can not attend to two higher-level tasks at the same time, so it cannot pay attention in class and work on the computer simultaneously.
- Short-term Memory: Repeat to remember—repetition is important for recall, but the timing and particular strategies used to repeat information to be learned are crucial for short-term retention.
- Long-term Memory: Remember to Repeat—Similar to the principles of repeating material for short-term memory; Medina postulates that by repeating information in class home work might be eliminated, if teachers and scientists got together to implement effective practices to convert short-term to long-term memory.
- Sleep: Sleep well, think well—Sleeping actually consolidates the days learning and naps improve cognition as well.
- Stress: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way—Long-term stress reduces the brain’s memory, concentration, mathematical abilities, and language processing.
- Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses—Learning, problem solving, and memory improve when education is participatory and other stimuli are present.
- Vision: Vision trumps all other senses—memory and learning improve when images are combined with language.
- Gender: male and female brains are different—Although research has not shown how learning behavior is affected, male and female brains do function differently.
- Exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers—humans have an inborn desire to learn and explore from babies throughout adulthood.
On its own, www.brainrules.net uses audio, text, graphics, and video to provide a concise and friendly summary of Medina’s key theories and suggestions on how to strengthen the brain’s capacity. In combination with the book and DVD, it reinforces Brain Rule #5—Repeat to Remember. Check out Brain Rules to start flexing you and your child’s brain muscles now!