Although we live in an ever-advancing technological era with space-age breakthroughs that are revolutionising the way we live and work, the human brain is still hard-wired to learn as it did in ancient times.

As homeschoolers we can harness the power of technology in our world and yet still benefit from the time-tested methods of learning that best suit the way our brains were created.

In a millennium where concentrations spans are reported to be shorter than ever, this might sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t.

It’s critical to use learning tools which will light up learning pathways in the brain and effortlessly embed information deep into the memory centres.

But how?

Most of the time, when you are presented with new information, you will remember it much better if you can integrate it into your pre-existing scaffold – your knowledge of the world and how it works. Doing that is going to be more effective than just rote learning.” ~ Dr David Bilkey, neuroscientist at New Zealand’s University of Otago

This is not new information. In the 1800’s Charlotte Mason wrote that

“Education is the ‘Science of Relations’; that is, a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts:…

…we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of those first-born affinities that fit our new existence to existing things.”

It’s because of a lack of affinities and connections that most of us don’t remember information if we are just given facts to memorise. The information doesn’t stir emotions or memories and it fails to connect with what we already know.

The parent’s role is to help the child make these connections and relations. Then at some point in the child’s education, he begins to make connections for himself between different things.

A small English boy of nine living in Japan, remarked, “Isn’t it fun, Mother, learning all these things? Everything seems to fit into something else.” (Philosophy of Education, p. 156-57)

How do we make those connections?

Throughout time, we learned by hearing stories and teachings from our elders, in the context of a family and a wider community.

We also learned through experience, seeing, doing, mimicking and working alongside others and learning from mistakes in that nurturing environment.

When we read or listen to a story, we can usually relate to the subject matter. We get emotionally affected by the people and the situation – the characters and the plot.

If children identify with the characters in a well-told story, they seem to ‘absorb’ so much more. Why? Because the facts are connected to living ideas and stories make these ideas come alive.
Information about culture, survival, history, and the environment have always been woven into stories and we are still wired to understand, remember, and respond to them they way our ancestors did.

“Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds but, in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry— and that’s what it means to be a social creature.” ~ Paul Zak, director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Claremont Graduate University, California

 In a world of continuous distractions, neuroscience confirms that stories still engage learners, drive information deep into the memory centres of the brain and create education that is truly unforgettable!

So before you reach for the latest learning gizmo, read your children a story or better still, invest in a literature-based learning programme that combines stories with experiential learning-by-doing.


Literature for Lifelong Learning

Benefits of Literature-based Learning

Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Making Dead Guys Come Alive