I was working with a P7 class today. I will be working with them  for 4 60 minutes sessions on higher order reading skills.

For the first 2 weeks we’re focusing on working memory and then we’ll move on to how we  read actively:  skimming and scanning for main ideas.

I started today’s session with this video clip illustrating how easy it is to miss important information unless we are mindful. We construct our own memories which are not always reflections of reality.

We decided what aids we used to remember instructions  and then the children made a memory time line. Crucially they discussed with their partners what made events in their lives memorable. They agreed that we tend to recall things that are novel, exciting, and which touch our emotions.

I told them about McLean’s theory of the Triune Brain. I used a toy snake (Reptilian Brain), a Valentine’s card declaring ‘I will love you with all my Limbic System’ and a Brownie cap (Neo-cortex) to illustrate the 3 parts to the brain. I assured them that this was a very simplistic concept that helped me to understand how important ‘fight or flight’ reflexes, emotions and logical anaylytical thinking are in learning.

Finally, we reviewed the learning and I asked them to practice the memory strategies we had identified as useful. I would test them next week!

It will be interesting to see whether the class teacher over the next term or so finds that the children in her class are focusing more mindfully and utilising different strategies to recall information.

Coincidentally, I went to hear Sergio Della Sala speak about ‘Neuroscience and Education’ ths evening and he showed the same video. Spooky. He was debunking myths that are pervasive in education that have no foundation in reality. He stressed the centrality of evidence based research in a most entertaining lecture.

I’m a bit worried now about my deployment of possibly spurious data to make a point about learning. After all, what do I know about neuroscience? However, I shall be more circumspect in future and check and check once more before I make certain assertions.

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