Talking with students about their brains

I am something of a brain nerd. I love talking about the brain with anyone and everyone, including my students. Alas, as an English teacher, I must spend the bulk of my limited classroom time covering the curriculum. But I have still been able to weave brain science into my lessons consistently and to engage my high school students at a developmentally-appropriate level about their own minds. Sometimes I can plan in advance for these brain talks—for instance, by having my writing students look at an article that is coincidentally about how successful college students sleep—but most of the time they happen in spontaneous bursts when I stumble on a teachable moment: asking a napping student how long they slept the night before or talking about healthy study habits after I announce the date of an upcoming test.

Why are Teenagers Self-absorbed Risk-takers and How Can We Turn This to Their Advantage?

“Adolescence isn’t an aberration; it’s a crucial stage of our becoming individual and social human beings.” (Sarah-Jayne Blakemore)
Teenagers: active, powerful, challengers, without fear of failure, ambitious, flexible, curious, creative, cooperative, skilled operators of technology, memorize well, a lot of chatting and laughing, low motivation, selfish, bad manners, not responsible, no planning, get bored easily, depend on SNS, like to be in a group and like to be alone, negative.

If Emotions Are Made, we Can Reframe L2 Anxiety and Empower Learners

It is really counterintuitive to say that emotions are not reactions to the world but are creations of our brain, or predictions our brain constructs. More simply put, we make our own emotions. Both scientists and ordinary people have naïvely believed that emotions are hardwired and universal. People see a face and can tell what emotion it expresses: happiness, surprise, sadness, fear, anger, or disgust. This is because our brain has emotion circuits and they are culture-independent. Well, not really. Dr. Barrett says this idea is a total myth because neuroscientific evidence has demonstrated otherwise.

Confirmation Bias: Why We Should Seek Opposite Views

The definition of confirmation bias in social psychology is observations of others based on individual prejudices and collecting only information fitting those prejudices, thereby reinforcing your own preconceptions. This happens everywhere in our society. People look for information to make sure what they think is true. Likewise, people tend to disregard evidence that is counter to their views and rarely try to seek it out. For this reason, adjustments to a view are made only with information that reinforces the initial judgment, and help people assume, “My ideas are NOT wrong.” In other words, confirmation bias is the tendency to look for, and accept, information that confirms our already held beliefs.

Just what is working memory anyway? And what does it mean for language teachers?

Watching Peter Doolittle’s TED talk (an excellent introduction to working memory), two questions came instantly to mind, one based on prior reading about the brain, and the other more of a speculation about the implications for foreign language learning.
First, I was immediately reminded to question how working memory is defined. Just what do we mean when we talk about working memory capacity anyway? In Peter’s talk, and in the literature, the dividing line between working memory and attention seems very fuzzy, to the point where you have to wonder, does it really exist at all?