The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education, Chapter review

Learning Brain:Lessons for Education

Uta Frith (Author), Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Author)

Chapter 11: Different Ways of Learning

This chapter explores the different ways people access learning.

Rote Learning:

The author discusses whether it is a tool that hinders learning or supports learning. It cites that it is something that has been used as a method of learning throughout the ages. For example in India 1500 BC, the Vedas was transmitted orally from one generation to another. They were taught to memorise without learning the meanings, as the meaning might only detract from the proper recitation. She also notes that when it came to long term memory people were able to remember what they had learned through rote learning more clearly than what was learnt through an alternative method. For example, she mentions how a woman learned Welsh as her first language and when moving to London learnt to speak English. She then suffered a stroke and as a consequence she lost the ability to speak English, but was able to recite all the hymns she had once learned in Welsh.

What resonated with me about this short paragraph is that when I started to use rote learning with my school action children I saw a drastic change in their ability to retain learning for longer periods of time. I introduced rote learning in the form of getting the children to constantly repeat writing high frequency words use the SOS strategy. This supported them with their writing as they were able to remember the spelling and formation of words in the short term and now, where I have stripped back on rote learning, they are still able to recall and spell those words.

Using the mind’s eye to learn:

This section talks about the use of visual imagery to support memory.

The author asks an interesting question. What would somebody do if you asked someone how many pictures are hanging up in their living room? To answer this most would close their eyes and visualize the room inside their heads, scan this mental image, and count the pictures.

I picked apart this question and implemented it in my classroom to support the SA children by having reference points around the class, which the children could refer to to support their learning. I found this to be a useful tool as it enabled the children to be more independent rather than asking an adult for support.

Imagery is frequently used to aid learning in people whose memory is impaired. A learning technique to support people with chronic amnesia is they are taught to link items through “ridiculous imagery” For example, they want to go shopping for milk, a bunch of bananas, and a newspaper they might imagine a carton of milk rowing a newspaper with bananas.

I have tried to implement this into my classroom practice by using imagery as success criteria for the SA children. By linking punctuation to funny characters for example linking an animal to a piece of punctuation, a huge gorilla as a full stop because he is lazy and wants to stop. A giraffe for Capital letter as it is taller than the other animals. This didn’t really work as well as I had hoped, so I stripped it back to basics and provided children with a reminder on the table and this had a bigger impact.


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