Why emotional connection is the key to learning….

Do you remember a specific lesson you loved going to in school because your teacher was so amazing and/or made it so interesting? I’ll never forget maths in middle school because of Mr.Rippington, I’ve never been exceptionally good at maths and certainly never really enjoyed it except for his lessons; he created an environment I was happy in. Around him I was always in a positive emotional state, which facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings, emotional stability and perceptual clarity (according to the Institude of HeartMath and neuroscience). He was also my PE teacher and took us to all our football matches, he believed in me in and out of the classroom and I adored him. This emotional connection laid the foundation for me to be in the best possible place to learn from him.

Not only does your fondness for a teacher determine your heart-brain connection but also how interesting the subject it is to you. The more interested you are the better you will learn. If a teacher can inspire an emotional reaction inside of you, the survivalist part of the brain is alerted that something is important. The brain is wired to assess the environment and keep us physically safe so its power is incredible. When a teacher makes something relevant to you, triggering that interest and positive state, the brain produces certain chemicals – neurotransmitters, which can contribute to long-term memory.

The detail of neuroscience behind all of this is fascinating and the importance of it is becoming fortunately more and more appreciated. It makes sense that we often see a decline in children’s academic performance when they are going through traumas such as being bullied or have a stressful home life. Cognitive functions including our ability to learn, reason, make effective decisions and think clearly are impaired due to this negative emotional state and the corresponding patterns of neural signals going from the heart to the brain.

It has been really interesting to touch on neuroscience following Lou and Jo’s attendance at a neuroscience workshop a couple of weeks ago. Their enthusiasm for it has sparked a huge interest inside me, which is a perfect example of how this works! Some really big light-bulb moments have occurred for me when digging around with this ‘stuff’. The part of our brain called the amygdala is largely responsible for negative emotions within us, however the good news is that by learning tools and techniques to shift these negative emotions to not be quite so negative, or even to positive, we can decrease the response of the amygdala! Lots and lots of the work we do at Bolt is around ‘reframing’ which is all to do with shifting our dialogue both internally and externally to find a better solution and more positive way of thinking about something. Our brains are built to change in response to experiences which we can be responsible for; we really can shape our brains in a very positive way which allows us to be in the best place to learn, develop and grow.

If you want anyone to listen to you or learn from you, your best vice will be to develop an emotional connection with them and trigger interest inside them which will promote that positive state.

Written by Maimee Morris – Bolt from the You Ltd.

For more information check out the following links:

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/03/how-emotional-connections-can-trigger-creativity-and-learning/

http://braintargetedteaching.org/climate.cfm

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