All learning and experience are tied to emotion, ranging from blah... to yahoo! Good teaching uses emotion and embraces the whole intellectual, physical, emotional, and social child. Content associated with "blah" is easy to forget but content associated with "yahoo" is more likely to stick. Emotions drive attention and have their own pathways for storage and retrieval.
- The emotive regions in the brain have a significant impact on thinking and learning. The limbic system is the part of the brain governing emotion. There are more communication pathways from the limbic system to the frontal cortex that there are in reverse. This makes it easier for emotions to "hijack" learning than for thinking to get control of intense emotion.
- The brain automatically places an emotional value on experiences and learning. Planning to pair learning with emotion will result in more information being processed and stored. Memories with a strong emotional tag will be more easily retrieved.
- Brain chemicals associated with emotions (i.e., adrenalin/dopamine/-cortisol) are memory fixatives. Emotions engaged during or right after learning something = increased memory and increased accuracy.
- Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of anticipation or wanting. It's a "feel-good" chemical. You can plan to pair a release of dopamine with content. How do kids get a shot of dopamine? Some ways include being correct and receiving feedback, solving a problem successfully, reaching a personal goal, celebrating success, and having made a helpful decision, and being noticed for it.
- Emotional memories have unlimited storage capacity and take the brain's superhighways to long term memory.
- People make decisions based on emotion. Often you can tell how someone is feeling by how they are acting.
- If positive emotions are engaged during learning, learning has a much higher chance of being stored in long-term memory.
- Noticing (without judging) student's positive contributions to the learning environment produces positive feelings and increases the likelihood that similar behaviors will be repeated.
- Plan to pair reflexive memory strategies with semantic learning and increase the likelihood of the information being recalled at a later date.
- Take time to teach and practice emotional and social intelligence skills to foster connections between students and help increase positive behavior choices, creating a positive learning environment.
- Plan to use emotion in a variety of ways. Teaching with energy and enthusiasm adds an emotional component and can be contagious.
- Use movement, humor, skits, funny voices, music, props, rhyme, flavor, scent, stories, role plays, celebration, controversy, poems and social interactions to tie learning/content and emotion together to create stronger neural pathways. Stronger emotion = stronger memories.
- Learning and emotion cannot be separated. Best to embrace it. The following links provide emotional subtopics making further connections to and learning and memory.
How can I plan for positive, productive emotions? How can positive emotions be connected to learning, learning space, and people? How can I increase the chances of students having positive emotional experiences when in my care?