Brain-based teaching in the digital age, is about the changing brain in response to the changesbrought about by the high-tech information age we live. Teachers must be experts on the organ
that they teach, the brain. This doesn’t mean they have to know a lot about brain biology. New
information about the brain can have a profound effect on the classroom if teachers are aware of it.At birth the brain weighs only about one pound and it contains an astronomical number of brain cells called neurons. A person is born with about 100 billion neutrons but they are so smallabout 30,000 of these will fit on the head of a pin. Over the last few years, scientists haverealized that the brain continuously goes through a process of cell regeneration calledneurogenesis.The brain was once thought to be unable to produce new neurons, but that has been provenfalse. This new discovery suggests the promising possibility of replacing neurons that have beendamaged or destroyed. Neurons are the cells that do the communicating in the brain. Eachneuron can communicate with many others; in fact, every neuron may have 100,000 connections.The neurons send messages to one another in a specific way to allow you to do all the things thatyou must get done. They take in information and cause the responses to that information.
The reticular activating system (RAS) is a busy filter. The RAS is the brain’s first filter
located in the area of the brain associated with survival activities. It scans the outside world fordanger and determines which information is allowed to enter the brain. The brain is programmedto forget and the RAS filters out about 99 percent of the incoming information. This selectivityusually allows us to focus and keep our sanity. Brain research over the past 20 years indicatesnotable changes in this part of the brain.
This doesn’t surprise me and this helps me to understand the younger generations better, theyare so busy all the time it seems to me. They just don’t seem to have much peace inside of them,
at least those who have all the new tech toys. The RAS has changed because of overexposure.Because of the increase in the number and pace of messages, the RAS scans more quickly andexpects more information. You might, as a teacher, notice this when you are teaching tostudents, their engagement may be brief, as new stimuli are discovered by the RAS. Most
teachers are “performing” in the classroom or putting on a “dog and pony show” to get the
students attention.Digital dopamine refers to the brain releasing dopamine (feeling of pleasure) when studentswho love technology use their digital devices and activities. The brain also craves novelty,excitement, and innovation, it naturally turns to things that are new and different - technologyoffers much of this kind of stimulation. This same feeling of pleasure needs to be flowing whenthey are learning. Movement alone encourages the release of dopamine and this can be includedin some activities. Teachers can include both low-tech and high-tech activities in the lessons toencourage pleasurable experiences.Texting, emailing, and instant messaging call for a new kind of language and the morestudents are actively involved with the new technology the more their brains are changing. Thislanguage is an abbreviated form of verbal communication. Like the author, this new languageoriginally horrified me as a teacher and parent.Example:
R U reading this? If you are, TIA. If you aren’t, OMG! Get a life!