Brain Rules

Reading a  very good book, Brain Rules; John Medina; 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school.


“It follows from these ideas that our ability to learn has deep roots in relationships.  If so, our learning performance may be deeply affected by the emotional environment in which the learning takes place.  There is surprising empirical data to support this.  The quality of education may in part depend on the relationship between student and teacher.  Business success may in part depend on the relationship between employee and boss.

I remember  a story of a flight instructor I knew well.  He told me about the best student he ever had, and a powerful lesson he learned about what it meant to teach her.  The student excelled in ground school, she aced the simulations, aced her courses.  In the skies, she showed surprisingly nature skill, quickly improvising even in rapidly changing weather conditions.  One day in the air, the instructor saw her doing something naïve.  He was having a bad day and he yelled at her.  He pushed her hands away from the airplane’s equivalent of a steering wheel.  He pointed angrily at an instrument.  Dumbfounded, the student tried to correct herself, but in the stress of the moment, she made more errors, said she couldn’t think, and then buried her hands in her hands and started to cry.  The teacher took control of the aircraft and landed it.  For a long time, the student would not get back into the same cockpit.  The incident hurt not only the teacher’s professional relationship with the student but the student’s ability to learn.  It also crushed the instructor.  If he had been able to predict how the student would react to his threatening behaviour, he never would have acted that way.

If someone does not feel safe with a teacher or boss, he or she may not be able to perform as well.  If a student feels misunderstood because the teacher cannot connect with the way the student learns, the student may become isolated.  This lies at the heart of the flight student’s failure.  . . If a teacher can’t hold a student’s interest, knowledge will not be richly encoded in the brain’s database.  . . . Relationships matter when attempting to teach human beings.

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