I remember when I first picked up 12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles in Action. At the time, I had a full library of books on parenting and homeschooling and I was driven. Learning about learning was tremendously meaningful and relevant to me because I wanted to be the best parent and home educator I could.
After I read 12 Brain/Mind, the other theories I was learning and using came into clearer view. It seemed like they all had something that resonated with me on an intuitive level and indeed there were aspects of each that were validated by the research Geoffrey and Renate were introducing: Waldorf and its incorporation of movement and creativity in learning, Montessori and the idea that human beings need choices and how to give those choices in a learning environment, John Holt and the notion that a child will learn best when the content is relevant and meaningful to him, and more. They were all wonderful in their own ways and I used bits of them all. Gently, the Principles added new elements to how we did things. The Principles didn’t replace what we had been doing. Instead, they informed me where I could make subtle and not-so-subtle changes to what I was already doing. Over time, these small changes added up, influencing a larger percentage of learning and “instructional design”.
My child, as a learner, came into focus. This wasn’t consistent and didn’t happen often at first, but rather over time. To show you an example, I remember first learning about how threat affects a learner’s capacity (Brain/Mind Principle #11). When under (perceived) threat, a child’s learning is relegated to the more primitive, emotional and reactive areas of the brain I began to pay close attention to situations where he might have been experiencing this. I noticed that his responses to these situations appeared as being lazy or unfocused, or disrespectful. I began to pay attention to how I was adding to the threat through the way I communicated with him. I worked hard to shift from an authoritarian way of being to a more patient and respectful way of being. This was tremendously difficult because I was literally changing myself, my beliefs and some deeply practiced habits. What I experienced when I was able to act in more patient and respectful ways was impossible to predict. In those moments there was a lightness about his learning, an excitement to move through challenging problems willingly, and an enjoyment of the moment that was absent before. I was part of the very environment that could help him feel threatened or safe.
There are other stories like this one. In my strong desire to be a good parent and homeschool mom and by learning about aspects of Natural Learning, I have experienced a lot of challenge and a ton of joy. And I have learned a great deal about myself, my child and how human beings learn.
As the new Director of Programs for Parents and Home Educators, I am taking what I have learned over the course of the last 8 years, making it as practical and applicable as I possibly can and giving it back to the parenting and homeschool community. You are powerful beyond measure. The relationships you have with your children and the environment you help to create in your home has a huge impact on your children and their capacity to learn.
Welcome to the newest branch of NLRI.