Why do I have to learn this?

Students sometimes ask me, “Why do I have to learn this (algebra, sentence diagramming, etc)? I’ll never use it in real life!”

Well, there’s a good answer to that question (or objection)! It has a lot to do with brain research and how our brain develops and gets connected. Watch the video below to learn my explanation!

As infants, the two hemispheres of the brain are not connected – there’s a gap between them. As the right side of the brain learns a concept or picture and tries to connect a name or label to it, a neural passageway is formed between the two sides of the brain, linking those two spots in different hemispheres. I liken that connection to a loose rope bridge. The more the brain tries to use that newly formed neural passageway, the stronger the connection becomes. I liken that replacing the rope bridge with a two-lane bridge, then eventually a 6-lane highway to handle all the traffic.

The more connections that are made as you learn, and the wider those passageways are, the smarter you are!

So why learn algebra, geometry, and all the various other courses in high school? Well, there are certain “connections” to be made that can only be made by forcing the brain to grapple with the types of problems (abstract concepts, problem solving, etc) in those courses.

The Brain Workout

I didn’t mention this on the video, but another analogy would be a boy working out at the gym to build his muscles. There are certain exercises he has to do to strengthen all his muscles, even some of the obscure ones. And the reason he bulks up isn’t just to show off (hopefully), but to be better suited to do “real work.” ┬áIn a similar way, all the work we do in school strengthens the brain’s “muscle” to be smart and better able to solve real life problems and think things through.

The Brain Fairy

There are few other applications I make in the video. I also share the scientific explanation for why junior high students seem to go through a period of time where they lose their ability to think and remember — like a “brain fairy” has plucked their brain at age 13!

 

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