Brainware Creative Learning
Very stimulating - gave me a new zest for life!
Undergraduate participant at a Brainware workshop
The above comment from a student precisely mirrored my own feelings of intense enthusiasm as I became increasingly immersed in what I might now call a 'Brainware experience' during my PhD research project. For further details about my PhD, the origins of Brainware and the associated workshops click here.
Fundamentally, Brainware creative learning is not primarily about mastering new study techniques, but with developing a good mental state, one that is calm and relaxed, but also alert and focused. This is very similar to the concept of the Inner Game and to what professional sports people frequently refer to as 'getting in the zone'. Once in this zone one is able to live creatively in the present, alive to all the possibilities of the moment. There is an absence of self-criticism, stress and fear of failure and instead a growing feeling of confidence and reaching one's potential. One does not try too hard, and the work seems effortless and intensely pleasurable.
Such a human potentiality is clearly of vital importance to all students in higher education and also in schools. It is beyond argument that universities have a key responsibility to educate their students in their particular subject disciplines. However, over and above this I believe that it is the primary role of a university to help each of its students to become a creative learner, with a good mental state and a fascination for learning.
Other Features of Brainware
- I describe Brainware as being eclectic, pragmatic and personal. In other words, it draws on many ideas, theories and influences (eclectic), and it makes use of whatever works best (pragmatic). Finally, it is completely personal, in that you use only what works best for you. For example, many people find mind-mapping a useful device. However, if you find it unhelpful for what you are currently doing then don't use it. For after all, it is you who is in the driving seat, and you may well have developed some more useful ideas of your own!
- Brainware is deeply 'whole person', based on the principle that a single organism functions most effectively when all of its component parts are themselves functioning co-operatively and effectively. It is therefore not narrowly focused on the development of the intellect and intellectual excellence, but recognises the key importance of personal development, interpersonal development, emotional development, creative development, imaginal development, etc.
- Brainware is based on a 'whole person' or holistic model of learning originally proposed by John Heron. Unlike the traditional educational model, based on 'thinking', this model is grounded in 'feeling'.
- Brainware encourages students to explore their 'right brain' functions, such as the use of graphics, colour and music, rather than restrict themselves to logical, sequential 'left-brain' functions. The BrainWareMap, which is essentially based on an extension of mind-mapping techniques, exemplifies this shift in brain function.
- Learning about Brainware is of necessity inherently experiential. Thus, it is not sufficient merely to read some or all the pages of this BrainWareMap. If you truly wish to experience "a new zest for life" in your own learning you will need to put your toe in the water, experiment with some of the recommendations and see where it all takes you. Bon voyage!
For details about the origins of Brainware and the associated workshops click here.