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Engaging the Brain – A Profound Learning Element


“So, what did you do at school today?” asks the parent keen for some insight into the hours spent away from home in a setting where other adults are instructing and guiding the child. Often the unsatisfying answer is “Nothing!” It’s hard to imagine how a group of innovative, inspirational teachers can spend such a vast amount of time doing “nothing”! Perhaps the key truth is that time was spent on what the student does not see as relevant or meaningful.

Meaning and Relevance

Research repeatedly informs us that meaning and relevance, along with novelty, emotion, movement and choice are all fundamental in engaging students in school. In his book Engaging Students: The Next Level of Working on the Work, researcher Phillip C. Schlechty states that engagement happens when students see the activity as personally meaningful. For it is meaning that sustains the student’s interest to pursue learning that is challenging and rigorous. JW Wilson, Executive Director at the Advanced Learning Institute states that “meaning is the holy grail of learning”.

engaging students brains with profound learning

Brain Based Learning

brain based learning

Profound Learning pedagogy is based on teaching with the brain in mind. Teachers include novelty and engagement into the daily plans with strategies based on offering multi-sensory experiences that become personally relevant. As students actively engage in thought provoking lessons that help them master required concepts, motivation to learn becomes a non-issue. Brain based learning is one of the 9 Elements of Profound Learning.

Whether it is building an igloo in a social studies lesson, creating “Elephant toothpaste” in chemistry class, dressing up as a Voyager, or passionately composing an original piece of music, in a Profound Learning classroom student brains are engaged.

They’re definitely not doing “nothing”!

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