Over the past few decades in the study of neuroscience and neurobiology, we’ve begun to learn more about the components of learning, and one of the foundational elements is safety. Learners need to feel safe in the learning environment—physically and emotionally. Only then can they take on challenges.
When learners are free to follow their enthusiasms and to use their strengths and natural intelligences to work on projects of their choosing, these skills flourish. When a learner explores many possible solutions to a problem or situation, either alone or with a caring adult, she learns to observe her inquiry process and become conscious of the observer inside herself.
Each time a learner identifies a bottleneck or solves a problem, his confidence in his ability to ask the questions necessary to come to effective solutions is strengthened. Today, when a learner can Google any piece of needed information in three seconds, the skill of memorizing information is much less important than it was in the past. Now, In the 21st century, the paramount ability is asking the relevant questions to find the resources and answers he will need to reach a self-declared goal.
Each time a learner is engaged in the learning process, neurons fire in the brain. There is a saying in neuroscience that, “Neurons that fire together are wired together.” As neuronal paths of self direction and learning from experience are forged, confidence in one’s own ability is fostered. Temporary setbacks and detours are viewed as necessary feedback in the process of the learning, not failure.
How can you and your children co-create a learning environment that will nurture conscious, self-confident and resourceful individuals?