Brain Based Learning

By: Asep Sapa’at, S.Pd.

“Sitting still in a confined place is one of the most severe punishments that can be imposed on man. But this is what we often do to our students in class” (Edward T. Hall)

Man’s greatest specialty when compared to other beings lies in his ability to think as a cultured human being. But it is unfortunate when the potential of our brain as the main modality to think is not optimally empowered. Even schools that are ideally expected to act as a community to empower students’ thinking abilities sometimes do not pay attention to the fact of the importance of brain use in the learning process.

In 1970, Paul McClean began to introduce the concept of Triune Theory which refers to the evolutionary process of three parts of the human brain. In his hypothesis, McClean states that the human brain consists of three important parts— the large brain (neocortext), the middle brain (limbic system), and the cerebelous brain (reptile brain)—with their own distinctive and unique functions. The large brain (neocort) has the main functions to speak, think, learn, solve problems, plan, and create. Then, the middle brain (limbic system) serves for long-term social, emotional, and memory interactions. The reptilian brain itself undergoes functions to react, instinctively, repeat, defend itself, and ritualistly.

Triune Theory is an important finding that must be responded positively by the world of education, especially in relation to developing a brain-based learning strategy and empowering all students’ potential. The common tendency present in our school classrooms is the occurrence of traditional learning that relatively only enables small brains, where the learning process that occurs is teacher centered by making students as learning objects with the main activity to memorize lesson materials, do tasks from teachers, receive punishment if they make mistakes, and lack appreciation for their work.

This kind of learning situation if maintained will have a bad impact on students, where this condition will lead to an attitude of failure and self-defense. Students will feel that what they are doing is not what they want. If something happens beyond the student’s wishes, then he or she will try to lie or cover up what they feel and experience in the learning activities. This condition is clearly a counterproductive to the creation of meaningful learning activities for students.

Brain based learning offers a concept to create learning with oriented efforts to empower the potential of the student’s brain. Three main strategies that can be developed in the implementation of brain based learning. First, create a learning environment that challenges students’ thinking abilities. In every learning activity, teachers often give questions about the subject matter that facilitates students’ thinking ability from the knowledge stage to the evaluation stage according to the thinking stage based on Taxonomy Bloom. Lesson questions are packed as actively and interestingly as possible—for example, through puzzles, simulation games, etc.—so that students can get used to developing their thinking skills in the context of empowering students’ brain potential.

Second, create a fun learning environment. Avoid learning situations that make students feel uncomfortable and unhappy about being involved in them. Learn outside the classroom at certain times, accompany learning activities with music that is precisely designed as needed in the classroom, do learning activities with group discussions interspersed with interesting games, and other efforts that eliminate discomfort in students. Howard Gardner—in De Porter’s Quantum Learning, Bobbi, & Mike Hernacki—states that a person will learn to the best of their ability if he or she likes what he or she learns and he or she will be happy to be involved in it.

Third, create an active and meaningful learning situation for students. Students as learners are stimulated through learning activities to be able to build their knowledge through their own active learning process. Build learning situations that allow all members of the student body to do optimal activities, such as students’ eyes used to read and observe, students’ hands moving to write, students’ feet moving to follow the game in learning, students’ mouths actively asking and discussing, and productive activities of other limbs. Referring to the concept of educational constructivism, students’ learning success is determined by how capable they are of building knowledge and understanding of a subject matter based on their own learning experience.

Learning is a simple process that they must do and experience for themselves to build the knowledge and meaningfulness of learning that they will one day get. Is it possible that brain based learning can be practiced and developed in our school classrooms? The willingness and ability of teachers to reform new developments in the world of education at a practical level is the key to successful improvement of the quality of learning through brain based learning. Without it all, dream times yee…