I am spending my Fall semester on sabbatical and am using this time to reflect on, reexamine and reinvigorate my research agenda. The focus of my reflection is contemplating the question: “How do current findings from brain research align [or not align] with learning theories?” Another way to say this is, which learning theories are supported by brain research? Which are not (or not yet) supported by brain research?
My major take-away at this early point in my investigation, is that there is a GIGANTIC amount of learning/knowledge that is non-declarative. We call this learning non-declarative because it happen in parts of the brain that are not connected to verbal parts of the brain. So we can’t “declare” or speak about it directly. But this kind of learning or knowledge is often expressed through metaphor or analogy or through art, music, dance.
This kind of knowledge has many names: intuition, hunches, experience. We can’t easily talk about this learning, but we can feel it when we have a “gut reaction” or when our “heart speaks.” It is critical to expertise. But, in my opinion, non-declarative knowledge has been largely forgotten in learning theories. Understandably, we privilege things we can verbalize. But what are we ignoring by not trying to incorporate this kind of learning into learning theories?