Brain rules: you know you know them

Sharp Brains has a post by John Medina about his book, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Medina is, among other things, a developmental molecular biologist and director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research.

I like the way he writes:

brain_office.jpgIf you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom. If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle.

His apparently common-sense rules summarize in everyday language what brain research reveals. Here are a few of the rules along with my take on implications for training, learning, and working.

Exercise boost brain power.

  • So why do workers or students sit up to eight hours a day?
  • And why so often do I?

We don’t pay attention to boring things.

  • For classroom presentations, my Law of Focus says people take ten minutes of break per hour, whether you give it to them or not. Medina’s not as optimistic.

We are powerful and natural explorers.

  • I once saw the terrible twos described as “first adolescence.” A child who can now walk, talk, and express herself confronts a world with unexpected potential and unexpected obstacles.
  • As Medina argues, this describes how our brains develop — both in individuals, and in the species.

I don’t think any of the rules are all that startling. Maybe their best value is summarizing in everyday terms what brain research has found. In other words, it’s not learning styles or MBTI profile or top ten tips for moving your cheese (or someone else’s). This is how people’s brains do what they do. Could be some advantage in putting that knowledge to work.

Brain photo by zen sutherland.

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