We learn best when we think, feel and do. That’s the message of Dr. Adele Diamond, a cognitive developmental neuroscientist who currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Canada. We might refer to this as “whole body learning.” According to Dr. Diamond, the executive function of the brain — the prefrontal cortex — works best when we go beyond the rational mind by also involving emotions and physical behaviors. That makes sense since the more we involve other parts of the brain, the more neural connections we make that reinforce learning.
The implications are wide-ranging. It reminds me of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and Robert Sternberg’s identification of different thinking styles. The more we incorporate different approaches to learning that speak to diverse individuals who are wired to learn differently, the greater the probability they will in fact learn.
Are you using more than analytic, rational methods of learning? Do you use stories to move people emotionally? Do you employ exercises that require people to behave in ways that will help them learn?
For those who want to go deeper, there a fascinating hour-long interview of Dr. Adele Diamond by Krista Tippett of American Public Radio’s “Speaking of Faith” program that you can hear at this link.