The author, Eric Jensen, writes about creating a safe classroom in which the brain can learn. Here are a few notes I’ve made.
Jensen explains how the brain loves new things. Nothing causes a reaction like something that’s different from what you’ve been doing. My favorite example:
- If the lights are on, turn them off. Everyone screams.
- If the lights are off, turn them on. Everyone screams.
- It’s the change that excites us, not the brightness of the room.
Hopefully, the weekly mailer will give you a few things your students have simply never seen before. And that’s pretty darn exciting.
But Jensen also points out that too much novelty is stressful. If everything is new, we can’t relax. So a routine is also important. Many teachers have told me how the mailer is part of their Friday routine (which puts a bit of stress on me to get them out on time!). It turns out that we need a routine in which to explore the novel.
- Too much novelty becomes chaos.
- Too much routine becomes monotony.
- A balance of the new within the comfort of a routine is perfect.
21 Games for Paper and Pencil
Perfect for brain breaks, wrapping up the day, indoor recess, or to analyze interesting strategies. Learn more...
Jensen makes it clear: want to do one thing to help kids learn?Remove threats.
Bullies, embarrassment, gossip, intimidating adults, fear of failure. All of these put the brain in freakout mode – and you simply can’t learn when you’re in freakout mode.
If you’re doing Puzzlements right, kids can ask any question about the image or video. They should feel free to wonder about anything that comes to mind, even if it’s weird, off-topic, or ridiculous.
The informality of Puzzlements should lower threat and free kids’ brains up to think and learn.
Finally, Jensen cites enrichment as a key to growing the brain. The more ideas we’re exposed to, the more connections we can make. The more connection we can make, the more ideas we can come up with.
More privileged kids will always have an advantage in this category. They go on vacations, visit museums, have their own iPads, and simply have more experiences to draw from.
But the internet can go a long way to leveling this playing field. Puzzlements are one way to quickly and cheaply enrich all kids’ lives.
Not Just Fun
So, I was delighted to see how sharing a few interesting videos and images on Fridays isn’t just a chance to have some fun and encourage curiosity, it’s a step towards a more brain-friendly class.
Grab Teaching With the Brain in Mind. It’s an easy read with lots of “OMG” moments.
And if you haven’t yet, join over 5000 teachers and sign up for the free, weekly mailer at Puzzlements.co.