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EMOTION: THE LEARNING KEY

Perceptive mind, Expansive mind

Education is an essential way to form complete and conscious beings. True things are learned by the love of learning, by the love of truth, by the desire to know, not by fear of qualifications. Vocational teachers teach with a loving attitude and deeply stimulate the student by awakening their inner seeker.

However, current education systems are subject to the rationalist paradigm, and that is why many people do not know what they feel, nor feel what they think. The feelings and emotions are important characteristics of the human being, who mold and transform their personality, their character, self-esteem and vision of the world in very different ways.

In the learning process, each situation requires confirmation of your intelligence, personality or character: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or silly? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?

Scientists now begin to see that emotion is the switch on and off of learning. Emotions such as fear, shame, frustration, melancholy and stress can create a barrier between students and their own memory and reasoning abilities.

The limbic system, located in the lower part of the brain, interprets the emotional value of incoming stimuli. Depending on its interpretation, it opens or closes access to cortical function in the upper parts of the brain. If it perceives "danger", when the subject feels insecure or anxious, operates in the "escape" mode, no time to think, chemicals flow to the synapses to close access to other brain functions.

Students often wrongly think that they have a poor memory, but what really happens is that their emotions have sabotaged them. On the contrary, when the limbic system feels "safe" or "happy", the brain opens up to knowledge, imagination and creativity. When students feel safe, a different set of chemicals flows into the synapses, allowing them to work quickly and well.

Love, the soul of the genius.

- W.A. Mozart

A similar phenomenon occurs in the brain with respect to the student's mind set. Intelligence is not fixed, no matter how many synapses a neuron has, it always has the potential to grow more and strengthen the connections between them. Students who understand this fact have a "growth" mind set, which leads to a motivating sense of empowerment, making more effort to build their skills, and looking at failure as a natural part of the learning process.

On the contrary, students with a "fixed" mind set see their level of intelligence as immutable. They are mainly concerned with proving that they are intelligent, or hiding that they are not. Therefore, they tend to avoid situations in which they could fail. They do not recover well from setbacks and prefer tasks that they can already do well, avoiding challenges that could lead to mistakes. For example, a good student can move away from hard subjects, such mathematics and science, to keep up with their level of achievements, in fear of failures.

Similarly, students who have been told that they have a low IQ, or who have had poor academic performance in the past, tend to believe that they are doomed to fail, and their level of motivation drops drastically.

And now, how do we put these discoveries into practice?

- Promoting an optimistic and positive emotional state.
- Creating an environment in which students feel confident about their own abilities and are free to make mistakes.
- Taking on each activity with joy.

- Teaching the growth mindset. With a simple understanding of the brain's ability to grow, students are re-energized to make an effort and feel more secure in their potential.
- Praising the effort above perfection. All students progress, and it is key to value that improvement more than the final result. The wrong kind of praise can lead to a fixed mindset and discourage future advancement.
- Praising intelligence as much as mistakes, as long as there is an effort behind them.

Artícle "The Science of Learning, Part 3: How Emotion and Mindset Affect Learning", Envision Academy, Vienna, Virginia, USA.

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