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Releasing trauma for easier learning

All of us have suffered some kind of trauma in our life-travels. Some things we remember because at the time, it was ‘big’ to us. Perhaps indeed it was ‘big’ and indeed extremelylife-altering and traumatic. Most of it however, has been long forgotten and sequestered into those cerebral places where distant memories reside.

 Most of the trauma I’m referring to however, falls under the banner of ‘soft’ or little traumas. The kind that most children ( and adults ) encounter regularly, some daily. Simple things like, falling over, falling out with a friend, being gently reprimanded or criticised by a friend or teacher. Whilst not diminishing the intensity with which a young person may interpret these events, most of us would agree that we tend to get over them relatively quickly and move on with life. Or so we think!

The body, which cellularly represents our unconscious mind, remembers EVERYTHING! Our unconscious, as the famous phsycotherapist Carl Jung reminds us, represents over 90% of what we do, including why and how we do it. Sure, our ego-based conscious mind, can convince us at any moment that IT is in charge and running most of our life. As medical science is now proving, the body/mind has a direct impact on our lives, including our health and in this case, the efficiency of what and how we learn.

So, what does this have to do with learning and school? Quite a lot it would seem. The latest research in body-psychology informs us that our body/mind is not a separate part of the whole but rather, is the whole. A kind of microcosm of the microcosm, a hologram if you will. Our mind and our bodies are inextricably linked, affecting each other every millisecond and every breath that we take.

Sure, we can override our body with our mind but it is rarely sustainable and often ends in pain, disease, mental illness and in some cases, hospitalisation or worse.

It is important then for ALL of us, especially young people to find healthy, safe, appropriate mechanisms of releasing trauma of any kind that is stored in the body. There are many non-invasive, simple and even pleasant methods of achieving this. From Somatic Psychotherapy with a qualified therapist, through to a plethora of easily learned self-help techniques such as EFT , Psych-K and TRE. Most of these techniques are easy to learn and can be enormously beneficial in releasing vital life-force energy that is often stuck in muscular blocks. When this energy is gently release, there is an abundance of energy that can then be directed towards a healthy life. Including improving school results.

We are in an age when self-health, really is the most effective way of maintaining a healthy life. Allopathic medicine does have its place but if we are to take personal responsibility for our own lives, as well as those of our children, the results for the next generation of adults is very bright indeed. Happy tapping!! J

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Fight, Flight or Learn!

Fight, Flight or Learn!

 

The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic system, which is often identified with the fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic, which is identified with what’s been called the relaxation response.

Both of these states-of-being, are natural and both can have dramatic and far-reaching implications for ALL learners. The former state inhibits effective learning, while the latter, offers enormous learning opportunities, as well as higher rates of learning retention.

When we do yoga, meditation, etc – the deep breathing, the stretching, the movements that release muscle tension, the relaxed focus on being present in your body – you initiate a process that turns the fight or flight system off and the relaxation response on. That has a dramatic effect on the body. The heartbeat slows, respiration decreases, blood pressure decreases. The body seizes this chance to turn on the healing mechanisms and ‘switch on’ the neural pathways to more effective learning.

It’s not rocket-science or New Age ‘whoo whoo’. It’s fundamentally Science. Anatomy and physiology linked to more effective learning.

The best part of course is that it’s FREE. Well, mostly free. You may have a little initial investment to make in finding a teacher ( Youtube and other internet resources are a great and inexpensive alternative ) but the ROI ( return on investment ) would make even the most avaricious Enron manager gloat! J

Try it alone, try it with your children and just notice. Notice how you feel and notice how much more information you retain just by applying some simple ageless body awareness practices.

 

Go on, notice the difference! Have fun.

 

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Benefits of knowing your learning style

The benefits of knowing your learning style.

 

We are ALL born like little snowflakes – no two of us are alike! Many parents would be praising the Heavens at this beautiful in-built design fractal!

We have unique tastes in all manner of things, from food and clothing, to music and friends. The list of our personal points-of-difference can, at times, seem endless.

However, there are also many traits that us homo-sapiens possess, that can often be predictable and measurable. Some of these traits are found in the way we process information, any information. This is reflective in the often, unconscious priorities, we give to our subjective interpretation of similar stimuli. Some of these traits often determine how we best process and retain information of all sorts, including the variety of everyday experiences that we are ‘drawn’ to and that are ‘drawn’ to us.

Our internal ‘filing system’ processes and stores information according to our most preferred physical sense. Very often, we will hear, see, smell, touch and sometimes taste things that immediately get stored deep in our psyche for future reference. How many of us can still get triggered by a long forgotten song or drift back to childhood because of a familiar smell? Most of this of course, is unconscious to us. Not deliberate if you will. However, it IS selective and very, very personal. One person’s sound or smell can be completely ignored by others because their particular preference hasn’t been stimulated.

In our work with students, we always test and verify their preferred learning style (PLS) and attempt to incorporate the dominant preference into their learning program. When successfully implemented with a structured learning program, the results can be staggering! The learning occurs almost effortlessly and the learner remembers much more of their content easily. It is true that we ALL use All of our senses most of the time but when you’re using your DOMINANT sense to learn something new, the results can be profound and lasting.

This new paradigm of learning runs contrary to the ‘one size fits all approach’ used in most contemporary educational contexts. It is, in many ways, the polar opposite to the ‘sausage factory’ approach to teaching and learning that was the necessity of an economic paradigm that is increasingly less and less relevant.

It happily co-exists with the latest scientific research on Neuroplasticity. The premise that we CAN learn better when we are taught in a more personal, less homogenised way.

Happy learning!

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Who is medicating whom and why?

 

I’m fully intending to be provocative in writing this blog. Full agreement will mean failure of my intent!

Every parent will face, at some time or other in their parenting journey, the question of whether or not to give their children medications – allopathic, homeopathic or some kind of combination.

The reasons may vary, from some type of minor irritation, through to major, serious and perhaps even life-threatening conditions.

For the purposes of this piece, I’m excluding medications for fevers, etc and choosing to focus only on those medications used for relatively recently created ‘behavioural’ conditions – ADD, ADHD, ADD, et al.

As most of us are aware, many of these conditions simply didn’t exist a generation ago and those more conspiratorial among us, can imagine someone in BIGPHARMA creating a drug and then creating the condition to be treated!

I’m deliberately setting out to invoke a response, to get you to consider a possibility that you, or someone you know, may not have ever contemplated before now.

As a professional educator with over 30 years experience, having taught students from five year olds to young adults, I can count on one hand the number of students who’s ‘holographic’ school performance (mental, social, emotional, physical, spiritual) has demonstrably improved with strong medications. However, I’ve met many, many parents who have blindly followed the medico’s advise and proceeded down the yellow-brick road of medicating their child’s behaviour.

The question I ask is: ‘Who benefits the most as a result of the medication?’ The child or the time-poor, over-worked, stressed-out parent?

Now, I’m not for a minute suggesting that some children don’t benefit from medications, they do! I’ve even taught some of them!

I’m really talking about the amount of over-medicated children whose primary carers are often the real beneficiaries of the effects of the medication. Those significant adults, whose lives are made easier through sedating these often highly intelligent, creative and intellectually unchallenged students.

I think that part of the solution is to be found in honestly examining the content of a curriculum that is frequently outdated, uninteresting and often helps to create many of the behaviours to be medicated in the first place.

Who is medicating whom and why?

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The Healthy Learning Pyramid

For many years, most of us have struggled to understand why many people especially some of our own children, simply don’t ‘get’ or haven’t ‘gotten’ school. Despite our obvious intelligence and willingness to learn, school-based learning, for many, remains difficult at worst and hard work at best.

Many of us don’t have any discernable learning challenges and often neither do our children, yet we continue to struggle with remembering much of what we need to learn.

Our children enter school as enthusiastic, capable learners and somewhere around middle primary; many of them hit the learning ‘wall’. They start not to get things! They begin to get frustrated. Maybe it’s Spelling that starts to challenge them. Perhaps, they start to get exacerbated by the Times Tables. Maybe even remembering how to do subtraction or division becomes their learning nemesis.

Children want to learn. It’s what they are hard-wired to do. Between the ages of 0-4, children learn the most amazing things, almost without effort. They can walk, run, talk, sing, skip, make things, pretend, imagine, create and relate to their world with enthusiasm and ease. So, what happens to many of them soon after they start school? Why does learning and more importantly, remembering what they learn, prove so challenging for so many? We all want to truly embody and understand the learning that we undertake, yet something, somehow, seems to either inhibit our understandings, or make it just plain hard work to remember things.

For many of us, The Healthy Learning Pyramid, might be the answer. We have a Healthy Eating Pyramid, so why not a Healthy Learning Pyramid.  This is a simple tool that is a structure guide that helps us make better choices when it comes to how we, and our children, best learn. Researchers have made some startling discoveries in recent times, especially around how we humans best learn. More importantly, how we remember more of what we try (and need) to learn.

Simply, The Healthy Learning Pyramid states that we only retain around 10% of what we READ (reading), 20% of what we HEAR (hearing words), 30% of what we SEE (looking at pictures), 50% of what we HEAR AND SEE (eg. watching a movie), 70% of what we SAY (giving a talk) and a whopping 90% of what we SAY AND DO (giving a dramatic presentation). What this means is that, if we really wish to embody our learning, we need to TEACH someone what we are trying to learn! We can do a dramatic presentation, we can simulate the real experience or we can actually do the real thing.

So, the next time your child is brushing up for a test, in say, long division, ensure they have the correct understandings of the concept. Get them to practice at least five examples and then take the time and GET THEM TO TEACH IT TO YOU!

Now, which part of the Healthy Learning Pyramid are you going to choose? Bon (learning) Appetite!!

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Some proven steps for academic success

There are many steps that enable all of us, especially students, to create what we want in the world. To consistently create the end results we feel we deserve. So, what stops us?

Of course, we can play the blame-game and look outside of ourselves for the answers. Dance with the inevitable “ but everyone else has it so much easier than me!” This dance of course, often ends up with an empty dance card and a lonely list of ‘if only’ at night’s end.

Or, we can look inside at some of our consistent behaviours and habits and fully examine the current reality in relation to these personal habits and the outcomes we are currently creating.

All good students know the awesome benefits attained in honest self-evaluation. Not the beat-myself-up kind of self-examination but a gentle exploration of what makes us really tick in relation to the goals we set ourselves.

In the words of Aristotle: “Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.” In other words, it’s the things we repeatedly do (or don’t do!) that create our results.

Three habits that can measurably improve scholastic performance are: Preparation, Purpose and Practice.

Let’s briefly examine each one, extending to it, the baking-the-cake metaphor.

Preparation.

Preparation is really the key. Baking any cake is vastly more effective when we prepare. Knowing the recipe, having all the ingredients at hand and being clear on the method, can make all the difference to the successful outcome. The same idea is especially useful when applied to creating a project or classroom assignment. Making a list of all the resources should be the first thing we do. Gathering the resources not only creates tangible, material evidence that engages our focus, it also activates all kind of sensory resources that stimulates momentum. The adage of taking the first step is never more relevant.

Purpose

This can really save students an untold amount of time and heartache. What is the purpose of making the cake? Sure, we want to eat it but is it the right kind of cake? Does it really need icing? What flavour is it going to be? Who is it for? Students that ask the correct key-questions invariably do well because they simply ask the questions that need to be asked and very quickly get on purpose to create the results they want.

Practice

Finally, practice. How many of us can lay claim to the perfect cake created with our first attempt? Contrary, most of us improve our favourite recipes with repeated attempts. Adding things here and there, modifying small steps, all the while enhancing the creative process and constantly improving the end result.

When applied to creating a better-crafted essay and assignment, applying these three simple ideas can be the difference between loving the end result you create, having your cake and eating it too, or eating humble pie!

The proof really is in the eating!

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