Please stand up.
Now say this out loud:
Never underestimate the part of the brain that contains HALF of the brain’s neurons!
Thanks. Now you may sit down. 🙂
Near the back and bottom of the brain, next to the brain stem, is the CEREBELLUM, a round, lumpy structure resembling cauliflower and about the size of a small fist. It handles motor patterns, coordinates muscle movement, and is responsible for maintaining bodily equilibrium such as posture and balance. It also handles cognitive patterns such as speaking, and automates certain repetitive tasks. Lastly, it is the section of our brains that responds to novelty. Like the rest of the brain, it has two hemispheres connected by a thick wad of nerves.
The Cerebellum, which means “little brain” in Latin, makes up just ten percent of the brain’s mass yet it contains 50 percent of the brain’s neurons. It has all those neurons for a reason, as it sends a lot of messages out to the rest of the brain. From fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging) it appears that the brain spends a lot of energy thinking about how to move before actually initiating the movement. There is ample research that shows the relationship and importance of movement to learning. According to Eric Jensen, “movement can be an effective cognitive strategy to (1) strengthen learning, (2) improve memory and retrieval, and (3) enhance learner motivation and morale.” Jensen is a partner in Jensen Learning and the author of many books dealing with brain-based learning.
Brain-based learning refers to taking current research on how the brain functions, making it understandable in simple English, and applying it to the functions of teaching and learning.
For further elaboration on the Cerebellum along with research references, please see Teaching with the brain in mind, 2nd Edition, by Eric Jensen, Chapter 4: Movement and Learning, pages 60-67.
Based on the overwhelming number of neurons in the Cerebellum and its focus on movement, it kind of makes you wonder about having children – or for that matter, anyone – sit still for extended periods of time.