Saturday, March 27, 2010

John Joseph: The Brain Man

Educating the Whole Child

EARCOS Teachers Conference 2010, Manila, Philippines

We need to take all the weighted elements and level the playing field for students. A study asked student to rate the things that affect their performance, and the top factor was sleep patterns. Children today get nine hours less per week than their parents got. So in one generation, we've wiped out one full night of sleep. So if a child is underachieving, it could be that they have lack of sleep.

It is the student himself that has the largest sphere of influence on their own learning, then the teacher, family, and peers. Intelligence is not fixed; we call this brain plasticity. Three things are important: motivation, confidence, and strategies for learning as well as time.

Narrowing the achievement gap can be done in two major ways: #1 giving kids feedback, #2 teaching kids learning strategies.

Kids fall into five categories:
  1. Anxious learner (high motivation, low confidence)
  2. High Flier learner (high motivation, high confidence)
  3. Conpetent learner (average motivation, average confidence)
  4. Struggling learner (low motivation, low confidence)
  5. Underachieving learner (low motivation, high confidence)
Here's where it gets fascinating. When you ask parents where they would like their kids to be, they never choose Struggling or Underachieving. Teacher never do either, but students DO sometimes! John asks them to rate themselves by subject, and there can be dramatic differences - it all has to do with care and belief. Emotion is tied to learning.

Is there also a teacher plot? YES! Created by kids:
  1. Anxious teacher (I love this job, but I have no clue what I'm doing!) high willingness, low knowingness
  2. High Flier teacher (This is a challenge; let's do it! but...We work as a team, and we do it my way.) high willingness, high knowingness
  3. Competent teacher (I leave my work at work at the end of the day. PD has to be practical.) average willingness, average knowingness
  4. Struggling teacher (School is a great place when there're no kids here.) low willingness, low knowingness
  5. Cynical teacher (They're frustrated high fliers. I've been teaching for 125 years, and it didn't work then, and it won't work now!) low willingness, high knowingness
The Four Worlds Model

World 1 - My identity, hopes, dreams, soul. A healthy world one is essential, and the vast majority of kids have this. Those that don't see life as a treadmill, may be depressed, cannot bounce back. A healthy world one means you have a good life regardless of your circumstances. It is not always a factor of parenting. (The Heart)

World 2 - The concrete world, the forte of early world educators. Students who are in this world ask, "Why do I need to know this? When am I going to use this?" It includes everything that we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. You get to meet people, go places and do things. World 2 includes everything you do with your hands and experience firsthand. (The Hands)

World 3 - The indirect experiences that are part of learning. It's the learning that requires generating mental images from words. Schools excel at world 3 learning. Those kids who don't do well in world 3 soon learn that if you create enough crises in the classroom, they'll give you some world 2 stuff to do. If you put in the world 2 without putting in the world 3 stuff, you leave out the intellectual attachment that comes with learning. (The Mind)

World 4 - The unknown world is the world of our hopes and dreams and possibilities. (The Unknown)

John sees parents who are living through their children, pushing them to do things that are not in their hearts. Passion for learning comes from doing what you love.


  1. Thank you so much for posting the link on Twitter. This is very useful when I'm going over my notes and trying to find out what I missed.

  2. It was nice to meet you, Melodee! I miss the conference atmosphere of learning and discovery, but I'm glad to be going back home...