When I was a child, and a string of Christmas tree lights went
out, it was my job to replace each bulb one-by-one to discover which one was
burned out. To enrich our effectiveness in work or study, we need to first
uncover what is obstructing our progress. We need to ensure that we are
sufficiently hydrated and nourished. A person dehydrated by just five percent
has a diminished cognitive ability of thirty percent. The right types of food
will supply the brain with its fuel - glucose. As well, our immediate
surroundings must be factored in. Things like temperature, illumination,
cleanliness, acoustics, and support materials. A competitive atmosphere is built
into the school format, and this discourages some who are less visual or
auditory than others.
Ninety-five percent of our behaviors are automatic.
They are driven by the subconscious mind, which faithfully carries out clear
directives. Like computer programs, these patterns or habits are often
established in early childhood, and operate flawlessly until they are changed.
This can explain self-sabotage, difficulties with motivation, discipline, and
Whether you are a student, or already in the workforce, you
have a need to take in information in the most efficient manner possible. For
the next few moments, suspend your belief in everything you know about how to
learn. Keep an open mind to new concepts.
Some people still believe that incoming data (information)
reaches the conscious mind first, and then somehow
gets processed so that some of it finally reaches long-term memory. Actually,
the opposite is true. Initially, all data hits the subconscious for processing.
The brain's priority is survival. If the new information isn't threatening, then
it is compared to existing data. If it's not needed, it is deleted. The
remaining data is sorted and filtered. Some is handed off to the conscious mind
for processing, and some is consigned to long-term memory. This all happens in a
flash. The subconscious mind operates at 800 times the speed of the conscious
Why can't people remember things when they are nervous?
I am sure that you've heard of the body's reaction to threat. It's called
fight-or-flight. It is typified by rapid breathing, and a diversion of
oxygenated blood from the visceral area to muscles. As well, blood moves from
the brain's thinking area (frontal lobes) to that part of the brain that
is responsible for survival reactions (reptilian brain). Under stress, we
just don't think as well.
We learn by taking in information through all our senses.
The top three ways we learn is seeing, hearing, and touching. Most instructors
do not think that learning through touch and movement is useful beyond the lower
grades. Generally speaking, school systems cater to visual and auditory
learners. Those whose principal learning mode is kinesthetic (touch,
movement, experience) operate at a distinct disadvantage. This group makes
up a large portion of high-school dropouts.
The concept of different learning styles goes far beyond
just visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. I am sure you
know that most people have a dominant hand and a dominant brain hemisphere.
People also have a dominant foot, dominant eye, and dominant ear. The
configuration of how any one person is wired may show one of a possible 32
unique learning styles.
Occasionally, trainers instruct according to how they
themselves learn. They blatantly disregard the fact
that many of their learners do not share the same approach. This non-inclusive
teaching can be remedied by including a number of simple measures. The use of
flip charts in lieu of presentation slides is more kinesthetic. It encourages
learners to pace themselves with the lesson as it progresses, rather than
"reading ahead" and not listening to the instructor. Flip chart pages can be
placed around the room to be used as review points. These reviews are done at
the beginning of the next class, in groups of three walking around the room (kinesthetic
activity). The small group format increases the chance that each student
will be discussing the points with classmates whose learning styles are
different. This enables new perceptions to emerge.