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Exploring Learning Differently

Psychotherapy and Brain Research

Learning from psychotherapy and recent brain research provides some very useful information for educators who want to understand how violence and fear affects learning. Some of the writers included here also offer some wonderful approaches for educators to strengthen their teaching and support more effective learning.

  • Foundation for Human Enrichment – Peter Levine

  • The Caine Learning Institute – Renate and Geoffrey Caine

  • The Child Trauma Academy – Bruce D. Perry

  • The Sanctuary Model – Sandra Bloom

  • The Trauma Center – Bessel van der Kolk

  • How Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Affects Writing and Learning: What Neuroscience Suggests about the Memoir Assignment. By Mary Arnold Schwartz. MA Thesis. Department of English and Linguistics, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, May, 2005.

  • Neuroplasticity

    As educators, when introducing new material, we aim to challenge people just enough. Somewhere between being bored and being overwhelmed, it seems as if there’s a “sweet spot” where learners feel fired up – like their brains are making new connections. They are  - the brain can literally grow new connectors and fire along new pathways.

    In Why All Practitioners are Neuroscientists, Louis Cozolino discusses how early relationships literally shape the brain’s ability to handle stress. He explores the relationship between trauma and language, the roles of different areas of the brain, and the damaging effects of cortisol, all with direct and dramatic implications for learning.

    The aim of therapists and teachers alike is to foster neuroplasticity: the brain’s capacity to change and to process information in new ways.  Research confirms our instincts around the importance of the relationships we develop with learners and the safe environments we create that help people let down their guard and learn – and change.

    Click here for access to the transcript – its simple and secure sign-up process will also give you a chance to comment on this article. You might also be interested in some of the other resources on brain research on the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM) website.