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Dr. Medina’s 12 Brain Rules & What They Suggest About Education Today

John Medina Interview from Pear Press on Vimeo.

Brain Rules book cover


In the New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, developmental molecular biologist Dr. John Medina aims to answer questions such as:

How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget—and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains?

He suggests that the way classrooms are set up today run counter to how the brain works. He would recommend entirely different set-ups. We think ideas from Dr. Medina and other brain specialists could become very important in the education reform and education technology debates. They provide a perspective different from Wall Street efficiency models of education and traditional education psychologists. Here are the main principles Dr. Medina outlines:

EXERCISE | Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
SURVIVAL | Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
WIRING | Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently

ATTENTION | Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
SHORT-TERM MEMORY | Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
LONG-TERM MEMORY | Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
SLEEP | Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
STRESS | Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
SENSORY INTEGRATION | Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
VISION | Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
GENDER | Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
EXPLORATION | Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.

John Medina, author of “Brain Rules” from Pear Press on Vimeo.

Find more information on Brain Rules at:


Meanwhile, Tom Vander Ark wrote a post recently, giving his thoughts on how the key principles from Medina’s book relate to education. Here are a couple of points:

Here’s some bad news: “There is no such thing as multitasking.” John suggests a dedicated, unplugged period of concentrated effort.

Repeat to remember. The folks at KIPP figured this one out: “The more elaborately we encode a memory during its initial moments, the stronger it will be.” John adds, “The more the learner focuses on the meaning of the presented information, the more elaborately the encoding is processed.” It’s interesting that he recommends both deep understanding and repetition to build working memory.

Remember to repeat.“The way to make long-term memory more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and repeat it in timed intervals.” Here is John’s ideal high school schedule:

Lessons are divided into 25-minute modules, cyclically repeated throughout the day. Subject A is taught for 25 minutes, constituting first exposure. Ninety minutes later the 25-minute content of Subject A is repeated, and then a third time. All classes are segmented and interleaved in such a fashion. Because these repetition schedules slow down the amount of information capable of being addressed per unit of time, the school year is extended into the summer.

Via: The Huffington Post


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