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Jill Bean's picture

The loopy brain

I do think that the loopy brain is a better story for explaining brain functioning than the reflex brain.  The loopy brain allows for complex interactions between stimuli, internal brain functioning, connections, and outcomes, as well as the spontaneous actions that sometimes occur.  Does the loopy brain allow for original thoughts and choices or free will?  Can free will be a part of the internal functioning? 

Is the brain designed for exploration?  I think that can be part of the brain's design, but the brain seems to include so many other things that that classification seems far too simple to me.  Paul said today, "Teachers don't need to stimulate.  They need to provide kids with things to act on."  This statement resonates with many of my experiences and observations as both a student and teacher, but only in the "finding out about the world" contents.  Other content areas do not seem to line up with this statement.  Many children will not learn to read and write simply by providing them with letters and books and paper and pencil; the whole language movement certainly showed that.  Many children instead require direct instruction about sounds, decoding, and blending to even begin to master these skills.  How does "the brain is an explorer" model account all of the skill oriented learning that children need to master to be successful? 

On a different note, if the brain is built for exploration, does the current understanding and structure of education in our culture need to be fundamentally changed?  How can teachers best develop ways of instruction and assessment to fully support the brain's exploration? 

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