Five Principles of Learning in the HET Model
NOTE: The following article is republished from an archived version of an article on The Center 4 Learning.
Intelligence is a Function of Experience
In the development of the human brain there are “windows of opportunity” when the hard, permanent wiring must take place. To miss these windows handicaps the child’s ability to learn, attach emotionally and socially with adults, and will cause difficulty in the integration of the 19 senses. The first three years of a child’s life should be filled with enriching experiences provided by the parents or caretakers. These experiences create connections in the brain that form the foundation for spoken language, reading, comprehension of written language, writing, and problem-solving. These experiences allow the child to recall past experiences as if they were happening at the moment. Dr. Harry Chugani, a neurologist working with parents who have adopted Romanian children, using PET scans and MRI’s has discovered how the brain can be altered permanently due to lack of parental nurturing and enriching experiences.
The brain prefers to input information in a hierarchy depending on the number of senses engaged. The most preferred way is the sensory-rich being there experience that engages all 19 senses. These are experiences as they happen in the real world. The second way input is taken in is the “immersion” experience. It is an experience that attempts to replicate a being there experience by creating an immersion wall, pond, or mural , reconnects in a students to the being there experience. The third way input is taken in is by using “hands-on, real” experiences. These are the “real” spider, the “real” frog and the “real” earthworm living in a habitat on each student’s desk. The fourth way input is taken in is by using “hands-on representational” experiences. These are the rubber or plastic models of frogs, spiders, and earthworms. They represent the real animal, but are not real. The fifth way input is taken in as “secondhand.” This information is found in models, pictures and videotapes of real experiences. This form of input has power and impact if there has been a sensory-rich being there experience prior to secondhand input. The most challenging way the brain takes in information is “symbolic.” This input is found in the form of letters that create words, numbers that create math problems, notes in music, and equations and formulas found in science or math. This information is the most difficult for the brain because it engages only one or two of the 19 senses.
Leslie A. Hart, Human Brain and Human Learning
Time Magazine: February 26, 1996, “Your Child’s Mind.”
ABC News, PrimeTime, January 25, 1995, “From the Beginning.”
Learning is an Inseparable Partnership Between Body and Brain
The body and brain form an inseparable learning partnership. Each sends messages out to the other which alters the messages that are sent back. Most sensory input (if not all) is filtered through/modulated by our emotions which direct our attention… Emotions are the Gatekeeper to performance. Therefore, the environment of the body is critical – the physical surroundings and the quality of interrelationships of those in it (student-student and student-adult). Consequently, implementation of the HET model begins with ensuring that the classroom and schoolwide environment enhance rather than impede students’ abilities to focus on the learning at hand and creating a sense of community characterized by absence of threat (real or perceived).
Movement enhances learning. Thanks to the advances in current brain research, it is documented that most of the brain is activated during physical activity (much more so than when doing seatwork). Movement increases circulation in the blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (brain food) to the brain. Sitting for extended periods of time, even as little as ten minutes, reduces awareness of physical and emotional sensations and may even trigger behavior problems. movement cannot help but optimize the brain’s performance.
–Robert Sylwester, Celebrating Neurons, ASCD,1996
Dr. Paul Maclean, National Mental Health Institute
There are Multiple Intelligences to Solve Problems and to Produce Products.
Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: A Theory of Multiple Intelligences, has identified at least eight different ways of intelligences for solving problems or producing products. He has established criteria for these eight intelligences including where they are located in the brain. Gardner firmly believes the human brain has all eight, but many are not developed or are underdeveloped due to lack of experiences. His eight intelligences and clues for identifying them include:
Linguistic Intelligence – the most observable clue is that people who are highly linguistic have a book with them at all times just in case things get boring. Individuals can be linguistic in four different ways: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. It is possible to have a highly developed linguistic intelligence and not necessarily be good in all four ways.
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence – the most observable clue is that people who are highly logical-mathematical are listers and appreciate things done in a sequential manner. They like order and insist that all drawers and doors be closed, encyclopedias need to be in order and they use post-it notes to tab reading materials.
Spatial Intelligence – the most observable clue for spatial intelligence people is they look up toward the ceiling when asked a question. They are looking for the answer to the question by forming a picture, from their experiences, in the prefrontal lobes of their brain. The most important thing teachers can do is allow “wait time”, time for the answer to form so they can respond.
Musical Intelligence – the musical intelligence person is the “most distracted person in the room.” Their brain is trying to make sense from every sound it hears. The most observable clue is that the person looks toward the source of the sound, a speaker in a classroom, a door opening, or a book dropped on the floor. Any source of sound is a distraction. They can be called the “hummers and drummers” since they often are trying to tap out the rhythm of the voice of the teacher. Stopping the tapping or humming will cut off the input to the brain so alternative ways must be sought as the person needs to feel the rhythm.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence – people with this intelligence need to experience input via the long muscles of their arms and legs. They need to have the freedom to move, stand, or walk around. The most observable clue to identify them is the “work dance.” After an assignment is given by a teacher the bodily-kinesthetic individual will get up to sharpen a pencil, go back and sit down, get a book and sit down, get a drink of water and sit down, get another book and sit down. What they are doing is processing the directions to do the assignment or task. These students need to be allowed to stand and work or need to be assigned tasks such as collecting papers and passing out materials.
Naturalist Intelligence – this is the newest of the intelligences identified by Howard Gardner and involves the ability to distinguish, compare, or make sense, of man-made things and things found in nature. The most observable clue is their need to be outside doing “real” things. They gain the most from being there experiences. Naturalists among us include farmers, conservationists and people who know how to navigate “the city” or community in which they live.
Interpersonal Intelligence – people with this intelligence are firm believers in the “power of many.” They believe collaboration is the way to solve problems and produce products. They want and need to be part of a group. The observable clue is often heard in the form of a verbal “Yes!” when told they will be working in groups today.
Intrapersonal Intelligence – people with this intelligence consistently ask, “Can I do this alone?” They firmly believe they can do a job better by themselves. This intelligence is one that will suffer the more classrooms move toward collaboration. Time needs to be set aside for the intrapersonal person. Silent sustained reading and silent sustained writing must be silent to honor this intelligence.
Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: A Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Learning is a Two-Step Process
Step One: Pattern Seeking
The human brain is constantly seeking patterns in its environment. Leslie A. Hart, author of Human Brain and Human Learning, has identified six major patterns the brain identifies. These are objects, actions, procedures, situations, relationships, and systems. The brain does not take in patterns in a logical, sequential manner. In order to determine the patterns in one’s environment the brain needs many, real experiences. Pattern recognition is the ability to identify and understand the things in the environment. The brain needs quantum amounts of experiences to understand the patterns. Application of patterns is how mental programs are built.
Step Two: Program Building
Leslie A. Hart, author of Human Brain and Human Learning, defines learning as “the acquisition of mental programs.” To build a mental program takes lots of pattern repetition. For example, if teachers taught multiplication facts using the pattern-seeking ability of the brain and repeated the patterns until the brain was able to identify and understand them, all students would master multiplication facts. The reality is teachers do not do enough pattern-seeking and move on too quickly, thus multiplication is taught at every grade level 3 – 12 and every college and university in the United States offers multiplication in its remedial math classes. Mental programs allow humans to use the patterns they have identified and understand. More curriculum connections and mastery of skills could result from building mental programs.
Leslie A. Hart, Human Brain and Human Learning
Personality/Temperament Impacts Learning and Performance
Beginning at first and continuing throughout life the personality and temperament of a person has a direct relationship to how the person learns, takes in information, how he/she organizes during learning and when applying learnings, decision-making, and orientation to other learners in group settings or in the classroom. David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates’s, Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Type is an excellent tool to use to gain information about oneself or colleagues. Some characteristics of each of the personality and temperaments include:
- orientation to life:
introversion (lose energy from interaction with people) or extroversion (gain energy from interaction with people)
- take in information:
sensing (details, concrete) or intuitive (wholes, hunches)
feeling (subjective, empathetic) or thinking (objective, logical)
judging (organized, closure) or perceiving (spontaneous, open)
In developing grade level or interdisciplinary teams, teachers need to be aware of the differences in the personality and temperament of their teammates. Middle and high school teachers need to be aware of the personality and temperament styles of their students.
David Keirsey and Margaret Bates, Please Understand Me: Temperament and Personality
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