By Hanlie van Zyl
In schools, various plans are made to teach children in such a way that they should excel academically. Past papers, summaries, and old notes from previous years have all become sought-after items that everyone uses ad nauseam, in an attempt to improve their academic performance.
Yet, that does not necessarily seem to be the answer. Most learners sit with their hands in their hair when they study, because some of them feel: “I can’t get the facts in my head”, while others feel they know the work backward, but when it’s not asked exactly in the same way, they don’t know how to answer. It makes one wonder, everyone learns, but are they learning in a manner that creates insight into the work? Are they developing the skills to be able to problem solve when questions are asked differently? If not, is insight and problem-solving something that can be cultivated?
To arrive at an answer, we must first look at what it means to learn. Dr. Melodie de Jager (2006) states that learning is not just the memorization of facts, but that it is a dynamic process in which knowledge and skills, through critical thinking and creative problem solving, are acquired, and remembered – with the aim to create new meanings and establish new patterns of behaviour. So, a skill that is not only valid in the classroom and for test writing, but a life skill that can enable a child to adapt to any situation inside and outside the classroom.
In the classroom, it is often found that facts can be repeated exactly by those learners who read well, notice facts, and are good listeners; provided the question comes directly from the textbook’s examples. These learners reflect the characteristics of a dominant left brain, which deals well with facts, detail, and words, and learns and memorizes easily through repetition. Their marks are usually good if the paper contains factual questions, but as more insightful questions are asked in the higher grades, they get discouraged because their marks no longer seem the same. Learners, parents, and teachers do not understand what is going on, and they expect better grades, because they are, after all, learning the facts.
For a kinaesthetic learner, the focus is on practical experience, and they find it difficult to learn if learning material is only conveyed verbally or from books (De Jager, 2009). They get lost in a lot of notes and may also struggle to gain insight and develop the skill of problem-solving because they do not manage to capture enough facts.
Learners whose left brain seems the lead share certain characteristics with kinaesthetic learners in that they both struggle with comprehension and to apply the learned facts outside of the original format. A barrier to learning therefore arises for these learners from their inability to learn content whilst also finding ways in which to create new meaning or learn from it.
Emotions are the “glue” that sticks information in the memory. This determines the brain’s ability to assimilate, form patterns from sensory information, remember it, and react appropriately. For information to be stored in long-term memory, it must be laden with emotion (De Jager, 2012). The cognitive brain filters all sensations. If something feels good, the brain will let it through. Motivation is unlocked from emotions (De Jager, 2006).
Perception is the process that gives awareness and interpretation of what stimulates the sensory organs. It is therefore the process that gives meaning to sensory information and requires skills of discrimination, comparison, and communication which is the basis of learning (De Jager, 2012).
If a learner can be armed to use the power of perception, discrimination, comparison, and communication, moving from the facts of a problem to situational problem context, they can find the answer easier. Perception and awareness are key to creating new thinking patterns that take learning to a whole new level.
Rub the indentation just below the collarbone in line with the left eye.
Sit on a chair and straighten your legs while resting the heels of your feet on the floor. Raise both legs. Flex and point both feet and notice any tightness in the calf muscles. Rest the left leg on the floor and flex the right foot, hold it for a count of eight in the flexed position. Relax the foot. Repeat the move at least three times. Rest the right leg on the floor and flex the left foot, hold it for a count of eight in the flexed position. Relax the foot. Repeat the move at least three times.
Hold two pencils or sticks with colored ribbons hanging down the ends between the thumbs and index finger. The pencils must simultaneously rest on the web between the thumb and index finger and the middle finger. Move the arms in a mirror image as though conducting a choir.
Massage both ear lobes simultaneously from top to bottom using circular movements.
Focus on the thumb held at elbow distance from the eyes. Move the thumb upwards, first around the left eye and then around the right eye. Repeat five times. Swap hands and repeat the same process, always first drawing a circle around the left eye and then around the right eye.