Today’s brain and learning concept: emotions are critical to learning. Generally, educational enterprises tend to separating emotion from thinking. Though the importance of emotions to learning has been acknowledged the connection between emotion and cognition remains, by and large, unaddressed. In recent years, more and more researchers are seeing emotions as important to higher order thinking and meaningful learning.
Joseph LeDoux, The Emotional Brain (1996) argued that there are different emotional circuits. He traced the circuit for fear and its impact on our thinking. Antonio Damasio (1994) wrote that thought and emotion can not be separated, and that body and brain, including the emotions, form one indissociable unity. Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion (1997) has shown that one reason for the unity of body and brain is that some of the chemical signals and carriers of information between neurons (neurotransmitters) are found throughout the body, not just in the neural circuits above our shoulders.
Educators need to appreciate that emotion and cognition interact, energize, and shape each other. They are inseparable in the brains and experiences of learners. Restack (1995) wrote, “almost every thought, no matter how bland, is accompanied by an emotion, no matter how subtle”.
One of the hardest things for any of us is to “unlearn” something—a concept, “fact,” or belief. One reason is why patterns are hard to change is because of our emotional commitment to them. We make deep emotional investment in our assumptions and beliefs. We also make deep emotional investment our in our spiritual beliefs and in our individual beliefs about how the universe works, how people are, and how the world works. Changing these beliefs is difficult and involve significant emotionally dissonance, if not volatility, because they affect more than facts; they affect our sense of who we are—our idea of our Self.
Implications for teaching and learning: Always address the affective domain when teaching a concept. When teaching new or contrary concepts help students identify their emotional connection to the concepts, beliefs, or ideas they hold.
Date posted: Thursday, April 30th, 2009 12:05 am | Under category: children, Christian Education, development theory, personal growth, teaching
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