Feelings, Thinking and the Brain’s Gateway

We’re bringing up our children at a time of explosive change. It will affect the way they will live and work, the jobs they will do and the workplaces they’ll go into. This change isn’t just something they’ll have to cope with in the future. It’s affecting them now – in the technology they use, in the way they communicate and in the way that they learn.

For parents and teachers, this can be confusing, exciting and liberating – all at once. It’s challenging, too. For educators, the challenge is not to be mere bystanders who witness change, but who embrace it. Otherwise, we run the risk of our children falling behind.

That’s why Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) shares with teachers and parents the latest developments and ideas from leading educators and researchers, experts who focus on not only what students need to know, but also how they can develop their own capacity to learn and to become independent thinkers.

One of the leading figures in the field of cognitive behaviour and emotional intelligence is Professor Ruth Deakin Crick, whose research into learning strategies and analytics will be shared with educators and parents at an ISV conference next month.

A focus of her work is on how a person’s emotions – their mental disposition – influence the way that their brain functions. She and other researchers explore how advances in neuroscience are highlighting connections between emotion, social functioning, and decision-making. These advances have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the role of a student’s emotions or mental disposition in education.

What we know about the brain and the process of acquitting knowledge in schools – learning, attention, memory, decision-making and social functioning – are profoundly affected by the processes of emotional thought.

Teachers who are aware of this can ensure that skills and knowledge are transferred from the structured school environment to real-world decision-making, because they provide an emotional rudder to guide judgment and action.

The Independent Thinkers Conference will elaborate on this understanding of the correlation between emotions and thinking strategies.

This understanding means that educators are increasingly abandoning old-fashioned approaches to teaching and classroom structures. Instead, students are encouraged to think independently about problem solving, to understand how they learn, and to be able to articulate the value that they can bring to a project, school or workplace.

Through this safe environment and early adaptation, students are allowed to explore their ‘entrepreneurial’ side to ensure their characteristics do not become fixed to one notion or mindset. They are less likely to say ‘I’m no good at maths or science’. Instead, their brains become a gateway to the wider world.

A local project where this has been executed is between Flinders Christian Community College students and Frankston City Council. Students’ interest in parkour, a modern urban sport, has become the focus of a unique curriculum project. Supported by their teachers, but led by students, it also involved the Australian Parkour Association and Playce (an organisation who designs and builds playgrounds and parkour spaces), and involved students proposing an upgrade to a local park.

It was implemented as part of the curriculum that encourages students to connect with local organisations and industry experts to experience real-world decision-making. Along the way they recognise their own skills, learn new ones, and develop strategies that support their ability to analyse risks and make timely decisions. It showcases how students think and engage in learning.

Students can learn about how they learn though a tool developed by Professor Deakin Crick, known as the Crick Learning for Resilient Agency profile (CLARA). This is a self-assessment instrument that rates qualities or dispositions involving ‘thinking, feeling and doing’. Students map their responses, review their profile and develop a greater understanding of their orientation to learning. More importantly, they can see how that might be enhanced.

We are excited that Professor Deakin Crick will take part in our Independent Thinkers Conference, where she will present her internationally-recognised work emanating from the University of Bristol’s Graduate School of Education.

Participants will have the opportunity to undertake the CLARA profile prior to the conference so that they can relate their personal results to the information shared on the day.

Interested participants should book now to avoid disappointment.

Event Details:

Seminar: Independent Thinkers Conference: Harnessing the Neuroscience of Learning

Date: Tuesday 31 May 2016

Time: 9.00 am – 3.45 pm

Location: Park Hyatt, 1 Parliament Place, East Melbourne

Cost: $360.00

To register for this seminar, visit the Independent Schools Victoria Professional Learning page and follow the link to Curriculum – Pedagogy.

For registration enquiries, please contact The Development Centre on (03) 9825 7240.

For conference content enquiries, please contact Lili-Ann Kriegler via email or on (03) 98257241 or Christine Lizzul via email or on (03) 9827 7272.