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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

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Would You Like More? Pleasure in Learning

  1. 1. Would You Like More?Pleasure in Learning<br />Kirsten Olson, Ed.D.<br />AERO Conference<br />Albany, NY<br />June 25, 2010<br />1<br />
  2. 2. Looking at “wounded” learners<br />Awarded “notableeducation book” by the American School Board Association (January 2010)<br />Live book discussion on Teacher Magazine most visited book feature<br />Top selling book at Teachers College Press this year<br />Nominated for Book of the Year by Foreword (May 2010)<br />
  3. 3. “I’m bored in school most of the time. Photography is the one time when I’m really interested.”<br />
  4. 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.”<br />
  5. 5. “ I told my teacher I wanted to go to college. He said I’d be pregnant and drop out in two years.” <br />
  6. 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.”<br />
  7. 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. <br />I’m ‘gifted.’”<br />
  8. 8. “I’m one taco short of a combination plate.”<br />
  9. 9. “Crazy. Stupid. Lazy.<br />I believed I was broken.”<br />
  10. 10. Trapped in an old fashioned institution<br />“Mass education was the ingenious machine constructed by industrialism to produce the kind of adults it needed… ”<br />-Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, 1970<br />
  11. 11. Designed to sort and track kids<br />
  12. 12. Define Learning As “Product”<br /><ul><li>Too manylow-level cognitive tasks
  13. 13. “Rigor”about memorization
  14. 14. Can’tadapt to individual learners
  15. 15. Frontal, “monolithic teaching” (Christensen,2008)</li></li></ul><li>Overemphasize “inborn” ability<br />Traditional school overemphasizes “innateness”<br />Importance of Effort (Dweck)<br />Grit (Duckworth)<br />13<br />
  16. 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.”<br />
  17. 17. Unproductive motivational “techniques”<br />Shaming, moralizing<br />Attributing “innate” characteristics to students<br />Positional authority— “do it because I said so”<br />Creates school wounds<br />
  18. 18. “Naming our reality is the only way to be free.”<br />
  19. 19. To help heal the institution and make it better<br />“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.”<br /> -Mat Davis <br />
  20. 20. Find your “inner warrior”<br />
  21. 21. “If you’re not making trouble, you’re not doing the work you should be doing.”<br />-Herb Kohl, talking to me,<br />March 20, 2009<br />
  22. 22. It’s a Cognitive Revolution!<br />“We’ve learned more about the function of the brain in the last 20 years than in the 100 years prior.” <br />(Richard Mendius, MD)<br />20<br />
  23. 23. “What Wires Together Fires Together”<br />Understanding the plasticity of the brain<br />Way we “adapt” to the task we are in<br />Mylenate based on activity<br />Sculpting/development occurs across the lifespan<br />21<br />
  24. 24. We discovered happiness!<br />Look atpositive experience as it relates to development<br />Connection between happiness and wellness<br />Pleasure and higher levels of cognitive performance<br />22<br />
  25. 25. fMRIs will save us from standardized tests?<br />
  26. 26. Classroom As Cognitive Doorstop<br /> “If you had to design an environment that was going to most effectively turn off the human brain, it would be the contemporary classroom.”<br /> -John Medina, Brain Rules<br />
  27. 27. Confronting the Barrier<br />25<br />
  28. 28. Most learning tasks aren’t organized around pleasure…still<br />Old industrial model moralizes<br />Play is disrespected<br />“Real” learning must be dull<br />Willingham’s book<br />26<br />
  29. 29. Joyful Learning Experience<br /> Kirsten doing Little House on the Prairie<br />
  30. 30. A Very Powerful Learning Experiencefrom Your Life<br />Qualities<br />Characteristics<br />Tell Your Neighbor <br />
  31. 31. Passion<br />
  32. 32. Choice/Control<br />30<br />
  33. 33. Right Amount of Challenge<br />31<br />
  34. 34. Early literature on pleasure and learning: FLOW<br />“Learning so pleasurable you just want to keep doing it, no matter what.”<br />Task relevance<br />Novelty<br />Choice/challenge<br />(Csikszentmihalyi 1990)<br />
  35. 35. How People Healed:The Power of Pleasure<br />5 stages of healing<br />The “invitation” was pleasure<br />Why would pleasure matter?<br />33<br />
  36. 36. Neuroscience of Joyful Education<br />Early article by Judy Willis, MD (2007)<br />Retention is better when associated with strong positive emotion<br />Stress, boredom, anxiety, confusion interfere with cognitive function<br />
  37. 37. 3 Components of Learning Pleasure: Arousal, Stress (right amount), Dopamine<br />Novelty promotes information transmission through the Reticular activating system (arousal).<br />Stress-free classrooms propel data through the Amygdala's affective filter.<br />Pleasurable associations linked with learning are more likely to release more Dopamine...<br />
  38. 38. “I started to love learning again.It was fun.”<br />
  39. 39. Dopamine: The fundamental cocktail<br />Brain a pleasure seeking organ<br />Neurotransmitter that carries information across synapses<br />Brain releases dopamine when an experience is pleasurable<br />Dopamine increases attentive focus<br />Memory formation<br />37<br />
  40. 40. Release me…<br /> “When dopamine is released during enjoyable learning activities, it actually increases children’s capacities to control attention and store long-term memories.”<br /> -Judy Willis, MD, How Your Child Learns Best (2008)<br />38<br />
  41. 41. Would You Like To Have That More?<br />What would more pleasure in learning do for you?<br />39<br />
  42. 42. Reframing Negative Memories<br />Negativizing brain<br />“The stick may not be a snake.”<br />Meditations to Change Your Brain (Rick Hansen and Richard Mendius, 2010)<br />40<br />
  43. 43. Pleasure Optimizers:Mindfulness Practices,Play/Improv<br />41<br />
  44. 44. Mindfulness:Training the brain for “better” learning<br />Mindfulness techniques allow us to do this<br />More and more understanding how<br />Awareness of cognitive processes<br />“Mind” as a thing that can be named and noticed<br />Mind is different from thoughts<br />42<br />
  45. 45. Basic definition of “mind”<br />“Embodied relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information”<br />-Dan Siegel, The Mindful Brain (2007)<br />Mind is a regulatory process<br />Embodied<br />Relational<br />Uses energy<br />43<br />
  46. 46. How do we operationalize?<br />Practice!<br />“Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity” (Amy Saltzman, MD)<br />Body scan<br />Yoga <br />Meditation<br />44<br />
  47. 47. Greater Awareness of Cognitive States<br />“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.”<br />45<br />“Now I know how to calm myself down and focus.”<br />
  48. 48. Gives Students Ownership of Their Cognitive States <br />“Self adjust” learning states<br />Greater sense of control and pleasure<br />Children meditating (Detroit classrooms)<br />Treatment of ADHD<br />46<br />
  49. 49. Flashlight of Attention in the classroom <br />Amy Saltzman Association for Mindfulness in Education “A Still Quiet Place”<br />Flashlight of Attention<br /> Breathing Bell in 3rd Grade Classroom<br />47<br />
  50. 50. Mindfulness for greater pleasure<br />48<br />
  51. 51. Mindfulness in Education <br />Mindfulness in Education Network<br />Association of Mindfulness in Education<br />Garrison Institute’s Contemplation and Education Initiative<br />Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness (2009) by Deborah Schoeherlein<br />49<br />
  52. 52. Play for better thinking!<br />50<br />
  53. 53. Play is where we…<br />Use imagination<br />Develop capacity to symbolize<br />Integrate emotions and thinking<br />“Scaffold” our next stage of development<br />Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), emphasized cultural/social context in which learning occurs<br />51<br />
  54. 54. Play “scripts” the next zone of development<br />52<br />
  55. 55. Play helps us find the “head taller”place<br />53<br />GaboureySidibe plays Precious, in a head taller role.<br />
  56. 56. While experiencing pleasure!<br />Vygotskian Approach To Play<br />•Sociodramatic play<br />•Tools of the Mind (Bedrova and Leong)<br />54<br />
  57. 57. Improv!Learning Without A Script:<br />55<br />"Learning involves doing what you don’t know how to do, which is not the same as pretending you know what you are doing. <br />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.”<br />  <br />-Unscripted Learning: Using Improv Activities Across the K-8 Curriculum,<br />by Carrie Lobman and Matthew Lundquist (2007)<br />
  58. 58. Improv: Where Adults Play<br />“Yes/And” Rules<br />`s_First_10_Rules_of_Improv.html<br />Grocery Store Musical<br />Pants Free Subway<br />56<br />
  59. 59. In Your Own Life<br />Where do you play?<br />Scaffold your ZPD?<br />57<br />
  60. 60. How Do We Optimize Pleasure in Learning?<br />How will you?<br />Examples from my own life…<br />Being more aware of my cognitive states: what I really like and what I don’t<br />Optimizing creative periods<br />Much more emphasis on play<br />Daily practice of mindfulness<br />58<br />