Training of trainers – NFL and interactive methods in Youth work – ACHIEVE

Lesson 5 – Holistic Teaching and Learning 1 – Whole-brain learning – text

text lesson

It is commonly thought that the left and right hemispheres of the brain have different functions. The left hemisphere is used for analytical operations, written and spoken language and logical processes. The right hemisphere is involved with visualization, synthesis, and creativity. Some people have skills that indicate that they operate in one hemisphere more than the other.

Although more recent brain imaging techniques have shown that the notion of a differentiation of brain functions into left and right halves may be far too simplistic it is still clear that formal education systems have tended to emphasize a rather narrow range of brain capabilities.

Whole-brain learning uses techniques that integrate the synthetic and imaginative brain skills with the analytical and language skills. Simple strategies can make better use of the whole brain and can dramatically improve learning and performance skills.

An understanding of how the brain works most effectively has led to a number of “brain-based” learning principles:

  • The brain is a parallel processor – it is always doing many things at once;
  • Learning engages the entire physiology – everything that affects physiological functioning affects the capacity to learn;
  • The search for meaning is automatic – the search for meaning cannot be stopped, only channeled and focused;
  • The search for meaning takes place by “patterning” – the brain is designed to perceive and generate patterns, and resists having meaningless patterns imposed on it;
  • Emotions are critical and at the heart of patterning – what we learn is influenced and organized by emotions and mind-sets;
  • The brain processes parts and wholes simultaneously – the left and right hemispheres are inextricably interactive;
  • Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception – the brain responds to the entire sensory context including subtle signals not consciously noticed;
  • Learning always involves conscious and unconscious processes – we learn much more than we ever consciously understand;
  • We have at least two different ways of organizing memory – a spatial memory system that allows for instant memory of experiences; and a set of systems for rote learning of facts and skills isolated from experience;
  • We understand and remember best when facts and skills are embedded in natural, spatial memory – spatial memory is generally best invoked through experiential learning;
  • The brain downshifts under perceived threats and learns optimally when appropriately challenged – learning occurs best in an atmosphere that is low in threat and high in challenge;
  • Each brain is unique – learning actually changes the structure of the brain (from Caine et al. Mindshifts).

Adapted from – Holistic Education Network of Tasmania, Australia –


The training program “Training of Trainers” is an educational product that is currently missing in the partner countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. Due to the early stage of development of the youth sector and youth work in these countries the educational materials aimed at non-formal learning are still limited and insufficient. The lack of adequate educational framework for training of youth workers in the field of formal education leads to inefficient use of the capacity of professionals.

This course fills a gap in the youth sector, namely the need of methodologies for the preparation of trainers, who are able to train youth workers. This course will set the basis for the preparation of teams of trainers of youth workers. The course will serve the goal of development of youth work in the participating countries and other interested parties. A large number of youth workers can be trained according to the methodology at national and international level to use and promote non-formal learning as a tool to enhance the realization of young people in the labor market and increase their social cohesion.

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