I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
German theoretical physicist
Intuitively, we know that there are good and bad times to learn. Sometimes we are too tired, too stressed, or too inattentive — or perhaps all three of it. In fact, this can be measured. In science, we differentiate between different states of mind, which can be made visible by an electroencephalogram (EEG).
- Beta: The normal alert modus during the day (ca. 12—30 Hz).
- Alpha: The frequency observed in our brain is 8—12 Hertz (Hz). We are relaxed, awake and attentive.
- Gamma (>38 Hz): The highest level of alertness and brain activity, often found during highly-concentrated work.
- Theta (4—8 Hz): You slip into this state when you dream at night. BYou reach it during waking hours through deep meditation.
- Delta (0.1—3.9 Hz): This is the level reached during deep sleep, when the body is regenerating.
In Theta and Delta the day’s events and experiences are processed. This is the time that content is learned. So it’s extremely important that every learner has enough sleep so that they can store information. On the other hand, Theta is a state of increased learning, some call it super-learning. In fact, children stay in this state much more often than adults. If you’re able to reach it by meditation this could be useful for your own learning
But in a group the Alpha state is the best state of mind for learning. In consequence, as a trainer or moderator you should create an environment and atmosphere that enables your participants to get into that state of mind: relaxed, awake and attentive – or in the words of Albert Einstein “conditions in which they can learn”.
If the group or individual participants are too stressed or tired, it’s often better not to continue with your programme (in order to stay in the planned time schedule) but rather to have a break or do some energisers or exercises. Also Brain Gym® can help as well as meditation and yoga.