Brian Rules By: John Medina

Cole Gacke

Review

Brain Rules by John Medina was a very good book. I would definitely recommend this book to people that want to improve their basic skills, and to people that want to expand their learning techniques in the classroom. Medina uses 12 brain rules in the story, but really only focuses on memory, attention, and exercise. He believes exercise is a big step in developing the brain; it helps boost memory and attention. John explains how exercising gets our brain functioning throughout the day and keeps students minds focused and ready to learn. Medina also does well explaining how exercise help short and long term memory. I knew some about memory but I didn’t know like the little things that somehow you remember and it doesn’t even matter in some point. The attention is also a big point. Teachers and even parents have many different techniques to improve their attention span. John does great in telling us how they can improve the way we learn. It doesn’t matter how you do it. John Medina talks about all of these and makes sure everyone can relate to his book called Brain Rules.

Amazon Review

When an author and industry expert you hold in high regard says a book is the best one s/he's read in 2008, it's probably a good idea to take notice. So when Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen fame recommended Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina, I decided that should be something I get sooner rather than later. After reading, I can see why he recommends the book so highly. Medina's 12 "brain rules" are based on solid science, but they're presented in such a way that you can actually apply your new-found knowledge.

Contents:
Exercise - Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
Survival - Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
Wiring - Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
Attention - Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things.
Short-Term Memory - Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
Long-Term Memory - Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
Sleep - Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
Stress - Rule #8: Stressed brains don't learn the same way.
Sensory Integration - Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
Vision - Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
Gender - Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
Exploration - Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.
Acknowledgements
Index

When Reynolds reviewed the book on his site, he focused on how these rules pertain to the art of making presentations. Attention, as explained by Medina, means that the brain does not multitask (much to your bosses dismay), we notice patterns and abstract meanings better than recording detail, and you have basically 10 minutes before the audience checks out without a new stimulus. Vision, the sensory "trump card", is the dominant sense, our brain controls what we see (and it's not totally correct), the processes to "see" something are very complex, and most importantly, we remember and learn best through pictures and not written/spoken words. That one insight alone should be enough to make you totally rethink the way we attempt to present to people...

Now, even if you're not approaching the book from a presentation angle, the book is still outstanding. Something like memory, an act we take for granted, is a deep mystery that we still don't understand. Medina shows by studies and real-life examples how things *might* work, knowing full well we haven't even begun to understand but a fraction of what goes on there. Sleep, something that boosts brain power, is *not* a time of relaxation for the brain. In fact, it often kicks into overdrive. Why? There are still no definitive answers. But he does go on to prove how *lack* of sleep can utterly render you incapable of rational thought and physical action. When you've worked through all 12 of the brain rules, you'll have a more complete understanding of how you can affect the quality of your brain functioning, all the while being entertained and amazed at what lies between your ears.

Every time I got to the end of a chapter, I started to put the book down. But then I'd think "just one more and then I'll turn out the light." Needless to say, I was at the end before I knew it. Like Garr Reynolds, this is one of the best books I've read this year, and one that I'd recommend to others for a number of reasons and purposes.
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Reflection

While reading the this book, I have came to the conclusion that everyone doesn’t understand the subject the same as everyone else. Everyone is at a different level of learning. Some are more focused than others are. Especially me during a lesson. I’m more of a visual and group worker. I hate being in lectures because I can only pay attention for about 5-10 min tops and then I just get focused on something else. This relates to the book because Medina said that students usually lose interest after 10 min. John said that you need to have at least a couple breaks every ten minutes to rest your brain. This includes maybe going to the bathroom, telling a story, quietly talking to a friend or even just putting your head down. Most teachers a North put slides up on the screen and it’s just a bunch of words with no pictures or anything other than straight info. In my sake I hate that type of learning. I need visuals to increase my learning of what we need to know. Medina does a good job telling us with his 12 rules by saying visuals are the best thing to look at when learning. This is where teachers need to listen to the students or even read this book just so then more students pay attention throughout the lesson.

Pedagogy

The pedagogy in the book, Brain Rules has made me want to bring these rules into my classroom. I was really surprised on the way on the different ways of teaching students. When I hopefully become a teacher I would try many new techniques. I’d use many visuals and give examples so then kids are more engaged. I’d also give the students a break after 10 minutes of the lecture. During that time I would have them do some exercise to get there blood pumping and mids refreshed. I’d also make sure that I gave them the right amount of work for the time being and not to keep piling homework for them. This causes stress and attention would go down. This book reflects on everything I see in EIP. I work with Kindergarten and they have the attention span of a dog listening to its owner. This is why Kindergarten teachers give them an assignment but do different things during the assignment. My teacher Mrs. Painter have them do like little exercises to keep them focused. She also lets them get on their iPad and plays a game or two for about 10-15 min and then does well by telling them that we need to get back to work. Mrs. Painter also allows them bathroom breaks and interacting with their friends time. Which gives them a little brain break and lets their minds rest, so when they’re ready for a new subject they’re refreshed and ready to go. Another thing that is similar to the book is how she divides the kids into groups or table groups. She puts a struggling kid with every group so then the kids that are doing well can help the struggling student out. This is a great way to divide groups. I wouldn’t want all the smart kids with the struggling kids. They wouldn’t have the help like if they had everyone mixed together. I’ve never really noticed any of these things until I read this book and it opened my eyes up big time. I definitely look up to Mrs. Painter as a teacher with all the great techniques she uses.

Questions

Do most teachers know about these rules?

What rule is used the most in every classroom?

Do some teachers let kids do a little exercise before a test or lecture?

Do teachers read a lot from John Medina?