I’ve previously posted about the lessons we do to help students see what learning does to their brain (see My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students) and you can access the complete lesson and hand-outs from my new book for free.

A new study has just been published that sheds more light on what learning does to the brain and, more specifically, what learning from mistakes does to it. It appears to be a very significant study that reaches insights that I believe are very important to communicate to students. I’ll be preparing a lesson plan about it, and will share it on the blog.

The study is reported in Scientific-American under the headline The Learning Brain Gets Bigger–Then Smaller:New studies map the changing landscape of neurons as the brain masters a task.

It’s a fairly dense report. This is my understanding of it, though if others who are more knowledgeable about neuroscience can provide a better summary or think I am in error, I’d appreciate your leaving a comment:

In these experiments, it appears that the brain gets bigger when learning new things. However, after awhile it returns to closer to its original size, with changes left in neurons and synapses. When the brain is getting bigger, it is apparently collecting information made from the experiences of numerous mistakes. After awhile, it identifies the key lessons learned from those errors, retains them, and discards the rest.

This information could be very important for students to learn, and potentially encourage them to be willing to take more risks in their learning, and feel less frustrated by the mistakes they might make.

You might also be interested in a recent commentary in Ed Week titled Why Wrong Is Not Always Bad.

Do you have other suggestions of good posts or articles about the importance of learning from our mistakes?