People learn when they can experiment with whatever they are working with, be it something physical like carpentry or something mental like philosophy. Teachers can even encourage faster learning by letting students essentially play with what they have and stepping back. Providing too much instruction means students don’t need to create a process for themselves so they learn to cope, instead they learn to follow the instructions. A recent study showed demonstrated that how make choices as learners impacts how quickly we learn.
This observation means the brain is primed to learn with a bias that is pegged to our freely chosen actions. Choice tips the balance of learning: for the same action and outcome, the brain learns differently and more quickly from free choices than forced ones. This skew may seem like a cognitive flaw, but in computer models, Palminteri’s team found that choice-confirmation bias offered an advantage: it produced stabler learning over a wide range of simulated conditions than unbiased learning did. So even if this tendency occasionally results in bad decisions or beliefs, in the long run, choice-confirmation bias may sensitize the brain to learn from the outcomes of chosen actions—which likely represent what is most important to a given person.
A lack of education around sex can lead to a lot of unwanted things like sexually transmitted infections and diseases to pregnancies. For many people sex is a taboo subject so delivering worthwhile information to teens can be difficult due to parent’s attitudes. One way to get directly to teens is through the internet and, unlike abstinence-only programs (which raise STIs and lower condom use), a new online course helps teens be safer when it comes to sex.
The results of the study showed a 10-per-cent increase in condom use among students who had taken the course and a reduction in self-reported infections for those students who were sexually active when the course started.
Gonzalez-Navarro said there was a significant, positive impact on sexual behaviour among friend groups who had taken the course.
“That was pretty encouraging,” he said. “You get much more effects if you have groups of kids knowing the same things.”
A prevailing attitude in North American schools is that students shouldn’t be able to fail, but really what better place than a school to learn from mistakes? Thankfully people are noticing that letting kids not excel at something is actually a good thing. Interestingly, it’s in the world of games that parents and educators let students fail.
It would be great to see kids being encouraged to explore knowledge and new ways of learning beyond the environment of a modern classroom.
3. Progress must be transparent. Lee Peng Yee, one of the main thinkers behind the system of math instruction in Singapore, once told me: “If you think you can catch the bus, you will run for it.” It’s a great image, and good games keep players in a recurring cycle of running to catch one bus after another, all leading to reachable goals. Look for games that keep the next milestone in sight and constantly show progress toward it. Seeing yourself get better at something is incredibly motivating.
Education is a very important part of any good society and a good equational system makes for a better world. In Finland, they have found a way to have a relaxing, effective, and the world’s best educational environment. The BBC has an article with some videos (which I can’t embed here) on the awesomeness of Finnish schools.
The Finnish philosophy with education is that everyone has something to contribute and those who struggle in certain subjects should not be left behind.
A tactic used in virtually every lesson is the provision of an additional teacher who helps those who struggle in a particular subject. But the pupils are all kept in the same classroom, regardless of their ability in that particular subject.
Information is something that your brain genuinely craves and when it learns something new it gives us a little reward. New research as looked into why information is its own reward.
This preference for knowledge about the future was intimately linked to the monkeys’ desire for water. The same neurons in the middle of their brains signalled their expectations of both rewards – the watery prizes and knowledge about them.
All the neurons in question release the signalling chemical dopamine. While the monkeys were making their choices, Bromberg-Martin and Hikosaka recorded the activity of 47 dopamine neurons in their midbrains. These neurons became very excited when the monkeys saw a symbol that predicted a large amount of water, while the symbol that cued a smaller drink inhibited the neurons. The same dopamine neurons were excited during trials where the monkey only saw the symbol that heralded forthcoming information, and they were inhibited if they monkey only saw the other non-informative symbol.