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Would You Like More? Pleasure in Learning


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Presented at the Alternative Educator Resource Convention June 25, 2010

Presented at the Alternative Educator Resource Convention June 25, 2010

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  • Layers of fatty tissue (myelin) forms around axon of nerve cells that allow neurons to fire faster and more efficiently
  • Eustress means “good stress,” term coined by endrocinologist Hans Selye and Richard Lazarus in 1974 and is associated with positive stress. Strength training is an example of positive stress.
  • Neuroimaging and neurochemical research support an education model in which stress and anxiety are not pervasive (Chugani, 1998; Pawlak, Magarinos, Melchor, McEwan, & Strickland, 2003). This research suggests that superior learning takes place when classroom experiences are enjoyable and relevant to students' lives, interests, and experiences.

Many education theorists (Dulay & Burt, 1977; Krashen, 1982) have proposed that students retain what they learn when the learning is associated with strong positive emotion. Cognitive psychology studies provide clinical evidence that stress, boredom, confusion, low motivation, and anxiety can individually, and more profoundly in combination, interfere with learning (Christianson, 1992).

Neuroimaging and measurement of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) show us what happens in the brain during stressful emotional states. By reading glucose or oxygen use and blood flow, positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) indicate activity in identifiable regions of the brain. These scans demonstrate that under stressful conditions information is blocked from entering the brain's areas of higher cognitive memory consolidation and storage. In other words, when stress activates the brain's affective filters, information flow to the higher cognitive networks is limited and the learning process grinds to a halt.Eustress: some level of stress is necessaryMultisensory stimuli helpful
  • RAD
  • Example if you were not a great athlete in school, had painful memories. You subsequently become a great rock climber, very competent. You bring that old memory to mind and infuse it with the golden light of the positive one. Mylinate for this.
  • Do a body scan here?
  • We do this one
  • 8th annual no pants subway January 13, 2009 up to 3000 in 2010
  • GaboureySidibe plays Precious, in a head taller role.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Would You Like More?Pleasure in Learning
      Kirsten Olson, Ed.D.
      AERO Conference
      Albany, NY
      June 25, 2010
    • 2. Looking at “wounded” learners
      Awarded “notableeducation book” by the American School Board Association (January 2010)
      Live book discussion on Teacher Magazine most visited book feature
      Top selling book at Teachers College Press this year
      Nominated for Book of the Year by Foreword (May 2010)
    • 3. “I’m bored in school most of the time. Photography is the one time when I’m really interested.”
    • 4. “There was always something mechanical about school, a mold I never fit into, never quite understood. Although I knew inside that my writing was powerful and artistic, I was unwilling to make myself vulnerable to someone else’s critique. The years of frustration and failures had taken a toll on my confidence and I found myself unable to trust my own ability in the classroom.”
    • 5. “ I told my teacher I wanted to go to college. He said I’d be pregnant and drop out in two years.”
    • 6. “I went to kindergarten as a happy child. Throughout my years in the educational system, I lost a lot of my happiness, imagination and enthusiasm. It all faded away, confined to the labels of the outside world, based on the concept of intelligence. The school system was focused on organizing and labeling students based on so called innate abilities. If you get good grades, test well, you are intelligent. This pierced my self-esteem armor over and over to the point of self-hatred.”
    • 7. “School’s a game, and I can never stop running. I never rest. I’m always jumping the next hurdle, because that’s what people say I should do.
      I’m ‘gifted.’”
    • 8. “I’m one taco short of a combination plate.”
    • 9. “Crazy. Stupid. Lazy.
      I believed I was broken.”
    • 10. Trapped in an old fashioned institution
      “Mass education was the ingenious machine constructed by industrialism to produce the kind of adults it needed… ”
      -Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1970
    • 11. Designed to sort and track kids
    • 12. Define Learning As “Product”
      • Too manylow-level cognitive tasks
      • 13. “Rigor”about memorization
      • 14. Can’tadapt to individual learners
      • 15. Frontal, “monolithic teaching” (Christensen,2008)
    • Overemphasize “inborn” ability
      Traditional school overemphasizes “innateness”
      Importance of Effort (Dweck)
      Grit (Duckworth)
    • 16. “I’m really good at school, but I’m very secretive about making mistakes. I always want to be right, and have the right answer. Otherwise, people think you are dumb.”
    • 17. Unproductive motivational “techniques”
      Shaming, moralizing
      Attributing “innate” characteristics to students
      Positional authority— “do it because I said so”
      Creates school wounds
    • 18. “Naming our reality is the only way to be free.”
    • 19. To help heal the institution and make it better
      “The reason why expression is so important is because without a voice people don’t get represented. Once someone is exposed they have the choice to live in ignorance or fight for freedom.”
      -Mat Davis
    • 20. Find your “inner warrior”
    • 21. “If you’re not making trouble, you’re not doing the work you should be doing.”
      -Herb Kohl, talking to me,
      March 20, 2009
    • 22. It’s a Cognitive Revolution!
      “We’ve learned more about the function of the brain in the last 20 years than in the 100 years prior.”
      (Richard Mendius, MD)
    • 23. “What Wires Together Fires Together”
      Understanding the plasticity of the brain
      Way we “adapt” to the task we are in
      Mylenate based on activity
      Sculpting/development occurs across the lifespan
    • 24. We discovered happiness!
      Look atpositive experience as it relates to development
      Connection between happiness and wellness
      Pleasure and higher levels of cognitive performance
    • 25. fMRIs will save us from standardized tests?
    • 26. Classroom As Cognitive Doorstop
      “If you had to design an environment that was going to most effectively turn off the human brain, it would be the contemporary classroom.”
      -John Medina, Brain Rules
    • 27. Confronting the Barrier
    • 28. Most learning tasks aren’t organized around pleasure…still
      Old industrial model moralizes
      Play is disrespected
      “Real” learning must be dull
      Willingham’s book
    • 29. Joyful Learning Experience
      Kirsten doing Little House on the Prairie
    • 30. A Very Powerful Learning Experiencefrom Your Life
      Tell Your Neighbor
    • 31. Passion
    • 32. Choice/Control
    • 33. Right Amount of Challenge
    • 34. Early literature on pleasure and learning: FLOW
      “Learning so pleasurable you just want to keep doing it, no matter what.”
      Task relevance
      (Csikszentmihalyi 1990)
    • 35. How People Healed:The Power of Pleasure
      5 stages of healing
      The “invitation” was pleasure
      Why would pleasure matter?
    • 36. Neuroscience of Joyful Education
      Early article by Judy Willis, MD (2007)
      Retention is better when associated with strong positive emotion
      Stress, boredom, anxiety, confusion interfere with cognitive function
    • 37. 3 Components of Learning Pleasure: Arousal, Stress (right amount), Dopamine
      Novelty promotes information transmission through the Reticular activating system (arousal).
      Stress-free classrooms propel data through the Amygdala's affective filter.
      Pleasurable associations linked with learning are more likely to release more Dopamine...
    • 38. “I started to love learning again.It was fun.”
    • 39. Dopamine: The fundamental cocktail
      Brain a pleasure seeking organ
      Neurotransmitter that carries information across synapses
      Brain releases dopamine when an experience is pleasurable
      Dopamine increases attentive focus
      Memory formation
    • 40. Release me…
      “When dopamine is released during enjoyable learning activities, it actually increases children’s capacities to control attention and store long-term memories.”
      -Judy Willis, MD, How Your Child Learns Best (2008)
    • 41. Would You Like To Have That More?
      What would more pleasure in learning do for you?
    • 42. Reframing Negative Memories
      Negativizing brain
      “The stick may not be a snake.”
      Meditations to Change Your Brain (Rick Hansen and Richard Mendius, 2010)
    • 43. Pleasure Optimizers:Mindfulness Practices,Play/Improv
    • 44. Mindfulness:Training the brain for “better” learning
      Mindfulness techniques allow us to do this
      More and more understanding how
      Awareness of cognitive processes
      “Mind” as a thing that can be named and noticed
      Mind is different from thoughts
    • 45. Basic definition of “mind”
      “Embodied relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information”
      -Dan Siegel, The Mindful Brain (2007)
      Mind is a regulatory process
      Uses energy
    • 46. How do we operationalize?
      “Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity” (Amy Saltzman, MD)
      Body scan
    • 47. Greater Awareness of Cognitive States
      “My students didn’t have the skills to pay attention and develop an awareness of what was happening, in the moment, with their bodies, emotions, and thoughts.”
      “Now I know how to calm myself down and focus.”
    • 48. Gives Students Ownership of Their Cognitive States
      “Self adjust” learning states
      Greater sense of control and pleasure
      Children meditating (Detroit classrooms)
      Treatment of ADHD
    • 49. Flashlight of Attention in the classroom
      Amy Saltzman Association for Mindfulness in Education “A Still Quiet Place”
      Flashlight of Attention
      Breathing Bell in 3rd Grade Classroom
    • 50. Mindfulness for greater pleasure
    • 51. Mindfulness in Education
      Mindfulness in Education Network
      Association of Mindfulness in Education
      Garrison Institute’s Contemplation and Education Initiative
      Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness (2009) by Deborah Schoeherlein
    • 52. Play for better thinking!
    • 53. Play is where we…
      Use imagination
      Develop capacity to symbolize
      Integrate emotions and thinking
      “Scaffold” our next stage of development
      Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), emphasized cultural/social context in which learning occurs
    • 54. Play “scripts” the next zone of development
    • 55. Play helps us find the “head taller”place
      GaboureySidibe plays Precious, in a head taller role.
    • 56. While experiencing pleasure!
      Vygotskian Approach To Play
      •Sociodramatic play
      •Tools of the Mind (Bedrova and Leong)
    • 57. Improv!Learning Without A Script:
      "Learning involves doing what you don’t know how to do, which is not the same as pretending you know what you are doing.
      Pretending you know what you doing is often detrimental to learning. It keeps you from asking questions or getting help because you are trying not to be found out. Doing what you don’t know how to do, on the other hand, is about taking risks and doing new things, not just sticking with what you already know.”
      -Unscripted Learning: Using Improv Activities Across the K-8 Curriculum,
      by Carrie Lobman and Matthew Lundquist (2007)
    • 58. Improv: Where Adults Play
      “Yes/And” Rules`s_First_10_Rules_of_Improv.html
      Grocery Store Musical
      Pants Free Subway
    • 59. In Your Own Life
      Where do you play?
      Scaffold your ZPD?
    • 60. How Do We Optimize Pleasure in Learning?
      How will you?
      Examples from my own life…
      Being more aware of my cognitive states: what I really like and what I don’t
      Optimizing creative periods
      Much more emphasis on play
      Daily practice of mindfulness