Penguins and the Broaden-and-Build Theory

EVERY EDUCATOR NEEDS TO READ THIS (at least the abstract).

Like yourself, I jumped from my seat after reading the paper.  To be honest, I erupted out of the chair and to calm myself down did several laps around my classroom.

I was absolutely enraged- positively furious.

Where has this been all my life? Where was this in graduate school?  I'm trying to convince you to read it if you haven't yet- it is that important.

A group of students watched videos.  One group watched a short movie on penguins and another on nature.  They felt happy and content after the movies.  The second group viewed a short movie of colored sticks.  They felt nothing after the movie.

In other words, one group watched a movie that induced positive emotions while the other watched a movie that induced no feeling.

Physiologists then had them complete several cognitive assessments.  The details of the assessments are not important, but in general they assessed attention and number/quality of cognitive functions.

What did they find?
"Compared to a neutral state, positive emotions broadened the scope of attention... and thought-action repertoires..."

Feeling happy and content increased the attentiveness of the participants.  Feeling happy and content increased the level and variety of cognitive functions.

Before you mow you lawn or snow-blow your driveway, you press a small, flexible button on the small engine.  This process serves to PRIME the engine and enables the user to start it.

The participants that watched the penguin movie had their brains PRIMED for learning.  The result of  positive emotion on brain function is called The Broaden-and-Build Theory.

The Broaden-and-Build Theory states that positive emotions encourage an individual to pursue and explore a wider range of thoughts and actions then normal.  In the classroom, being happy and content results in students that are more creative, innovate, and open to new knowledge.

Prior to a lesson, try to make your students happier.

Use positive language when reviewing tasks, describe the positive feelings that you are feeling, read a  short heart-warming story, tell a joke; the ways to incorporate a quick injection of positivity into your lesson are endless.

If nothing else, understand this: feeling positive emotions (being happy and content), seems to PRIME a brain for learning.

Thanks for reading.

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