Sunday, June 16, 2013

What does a Feeling have to do with Achievement?

In both my private practice and part time employment I am  involved with children who don't seem to learn at the same rate as their peers. This can sometimes require assessment for a specific learning disability with recommendations on how to support them in the classroom and at home.  I recently purchased the book photographed in this post and consider it one of the best I have read.  I am in awe of the amount of research undertaken by its author and her ability to bring it all together.

When our thinking in is in 'flow' insight often comes to mind.   'Flow' is usually associated with creating a wonderful art piece or whilst playing sport. For me, if I am engaged with what I am reading, 'flow' can also enter.  It was whilst reading this book that my mind turned to how difficult it was for me in the beginning to understand the definition of several of the terms she was using and how I still get a sense of fuzziness every time I come across them.  And then I realised!  I first came across the terms when I didn't know their meaning and had to talk with another professional using them in language.  If I wasn't going to appear ill informed I needed to understand those terms in the moment - which was impossible, so I simply kept the conversation going until I could go away and locate their definition.

But do you know what?  Every time I now come across the specific terms my body goes into anxiety.  From neuroscience we know that neurons that fire together wire together.  Here I have a personal lived example of anxiety neurons firing at the same time as I was required to engage with several key professional terms.  And now, every time I come across those terms, no matter how often I have looked them up, attempted to memorise them, considered various mnemonics I could employ ... my body goes into anxiety and the terms always feel 'fuzzy' like I just don't quite know what they refer to.

Three little words, I have a 'fuzzy' experience every time I encounter these three little words, all because of the powerful wiring that occurred when I first had to use them.  Imagine what it must be like for children in classrooms or at home, first attempting to read, or speak in front of others, or write, or spell .... thinking they should be able to do it, wanting to appear competent ... and anxious.

So much research is revealing the fact that if teachers and adults around children spend time cultivating a relaxed feeling .... cultivating rapport, then children learn with ease and perform better.  All children with learning difficulties and disabilities exhibit the interference of anxiety. At times it is like detective work trying to determine specifically what their anxiety is connected to and how this plays out in other areas of their learning.  Then the task is to rewire, create feelings of peace and ease when interacting with tasks and situations that previously held high anxiety.  Staying in an open space ourselves, observing, experimenting/playing, intuiting what to try next, being curious ..... love.   What is good for the soul is also good for learning.  The effectiveness of evidence based programs can never be separated from the feeling the teacher or adult brings to learning and the feeling state of the child.  Thankfully we live in times in which our understanding of what makes a program effective and how feelings impact on learning is rapidly expanding. 

No comments:

Post a Comment