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Whoa! Our brains are more different than we thought.

I came across references to this research project from UCLA Brain Research Institute. While American and not Australian data, and dated in 2013, the idea it put forward was interesting!

ULCA Student Advertisement for Healthy Brains

Of those who responded to the UCLA “healthy brain” student advertisement and considered themselves to be normal, only 32% passed the initial telephone screening process. Of those who qualified for the in-person health history and physical examinations, only 52% passed these screening procedures.

Now we can do the math: only 11% of those individuals who believed they were healthy/normal even qualified for brain imaging. Of the original 2000 students, just over 200 ended up meeting the criteria. The actual study concludes by saying, “The majority of individuals who consider themselves normal by self-report are found not to be so.”

So… Almost 90% of human brains are atypical, damaged or in some way not healthy. That does NOT mean that many students have not compensated; they have.

Historically, it has been promoted that the majority of learners (80-95%) have “typical” brains, with the remainder being learners requiring extra support, such as gifted and talented programs, special needs programs, or behavioural issues requiring management.

Research has started to show exactly how atypical our brains are. Instead of there being mostly ‘typical’ learners and some learners with ‘differences’, the brain research tells us the opposite. Flip the statistics! There is variations between the majority of learners brains (80-95%)  with their learning abilities affected by multiple things including genetics and life experiences. The remainder of learners have what is scientifically considered a healthy or ‘typical’ brain.

blog_differentiated_instructionThe message seems clear: Make differences the expected, not the exception. Expect all learners to be at different points and at different times. We are not training topics and content, we are training people.

It seems the next question is then – how do we best differentiate the way we train in our organisations, with consideration for time, location, group size, requirements, and without everything feeling like we are herding cats?


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