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And why it leads to coping with symptoms, not remediating causes

Current conventional thinking is that learning is fixed — that learning ability is formed in the first three years of life and from then is a fact of life.  After that educators and parents tend to have the mindset of “working around” learning issues with extra teaching and accomodations.

If you are told your child is a visual learner and that you need to provide visual cues to help “that kind of learner” you are basically being told that your child is a visual learner and that’s that. 

It’s done.  But think about it. 

What a devastating diagnosis. 

Reading is a language skill – spoken language in a visual format and so it requires spoken language dexterity to at first decode, then to understand language structures and vocabulary. Furthermore, for the first ten plus years of life the vast, vast majority of learning is oral –listening to the world around you as a baby, being taught by your parents and then educators.

No right thinking, self-organizing brain would choose to be a “visual” learner in a language filled world where listening is the most crucial skill. A right-thinking brain would always choose to be a “language” learner.

But with a learning is fixed mindset, being a so-called Visual Learner sounds OK and nothing for parents to worry about since nothing can be done (they say) anyway. 

What if, instead of figuring out how to recreate the environment to help a visual learner, the effort was spent on turning that visual learning into a language learner.

Enter the idea of changing how a brain learns.

Brain Plasticity Is Real

Changing how the brain learns requires buying into the idea that learning is not fixed, that brain function is not fixed.

This should not be a big leap.  Think about how people stroke rehabilitation – that’s the brain having to reinvent itself after functioning cells die.

In fact, there is an overwhelming and rapidly expanding body of evidence that brains need not be trapped in faulty learning mechanisms. Brains are capable of change. This is brain plasticity, one of the great scientific discoveries of the last decade and yet really, despite is great message of hope for all children with any kind of learning glitch, it is still largely ignored by educators and parents alike in their daily response to children with learning delays.

It’s a missed opportunity.

While the proven applications that take advantage of brain plasticity — like Fast ForWord software and Interactive Metronome — are still relatively few, this is an emerging area of learning intervention that should be attracting more attention.  The challenge is isolating the cognitive functioning that is the source of delay and then exercising those skills sufficiently to be relied on more by the brain. 

The most successful area of development so far has been language-related programs, like Fast ForWord, because creating sound-based exercises are able to interact with the language centers of the brain.  Fast ForWord helps learners of all types become language learners, which has the effect of accelerating growth.

About Gemm Learning

Gemm Learning provides reading and learning interventions at home that tap into the opportunity of brain plasticity.  It has literally hundreds of success stories that prove that learning is not fixed and that brain plasticity offers the potential for transformational change.