By William Seidman
Practice makes perfect. You’ve heard this a million times. From a neurological point of view, that is 100% correct with the caveat that if you are practicing the wrong things with the right mindset, you have a great chance at being perfectly wrong!
We use coaches to guide learners to reflect on their learning and share what they have gained from the program. Many participants are so used to passive learning that they don’t know how to reflect and share. Being asked to consciously identify what they’ve learned, then discuss it and record it, is a challenge.
Writing down what they have learned drives still deeper reflection, reinforces positive images, facilitates passage through short-term memory and provides even more opportunities for learning.
We use the the neuroscience of learning to boost learning of the desired attitudes and behaviors.
By William Seidman
All learning is the wiring or rewiring of neurons in the brain. Behaviors and attitudes are formed by frequent, consistent and conscious practice over time. Eventually, the new neural connections and patterns overtake and displace the old ones and the learner thinks and behaves in new ways.
Neuroscience has shown that frequent repetition of a key concept, attitude or behavior causes neurons to fire together which wires them together. This consistent firing of new neurons and their wiring together in the brain provides the basis for long-term storage of new ideas. Researchers call the brain’s ability to wire and rewire “neuroplasticity.”
Other neural factors also affect our ability to learn. Positive images cause the release of dopamine that generates a sense of well-being and an openness to learning. Negative images stimulate the release of cortisol and the “fear” portions of the brain that cause resistance to learning.
People also resist learning when they’re given too much information too fast or too little too slowly. This is because short-term memory and the pre-frontal cortex have limited information processing ability. Trying to learn too much information too fast overloads processing. Too little information presented too slowly is boring.
In addition, research has shown that an individual participating in a group learning process learns differently and in some ways more efficiently than he does in isolation. In a group setting, there is a release of neural transmitters that doesn’t happen in isolation.
When positive images are created and things are practiced consciously in a group setting, with full awareness of the barriers to learning, learning becomes much more effective and efficient.