Have we ever thought Why should helping students in the social and emotional realms of their lives enhance their academic learning? If we look back at our own school days and remember a teacher whose class we enjoyed , we almost certainly will bring to mind also a classroom environment where we enjoyed learning. From the perspective of neuroscience, that optimal learning environment reflects an internal brain state well attuned for learning. Most of us have assumed that the kind of academic learning that goes on in school has little or nothing to do with one’s emotions or social environment. Now neuroscience is telling us exactly the opposite. The emotional centers of the brain are intricately interwoven with the neurocortical areas involved in cognitive learning. When a child trying to learn is caught up in a distressing emotion, the centers for learning are temporarily hampered. The child’s attention becomes preoccupied with whatever may be the source of the trouble. Because attention is itself a limited capacity, the child has that much less ability to hear, understand, or remember what a teacher or a book is saying. In short, there is a direct link between emotions and learning.
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