Posts Tagged ‘back 90’

(6) Learning to run our brain: Tasks of the “back 90”

Monday, July 5, 2010, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

This is the sixth (6th) in the series of seven (7) articles about having fun learning to run our very own brain, and helping our children and students learn to have more fun learning how to run their very own brains. – Doc Meek

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The conscious and the subconscious mind/brain

We have tended to focus heretofore more on the conscious mind. The additional roles of the subconscious mind/brain are immense, and will be dealt with here and in future articles.

When I was teaching parent, teacher and student classes on learning, I would sometimes present a model of the learning brain that I thought was helpful for all of us. I would talk about the brain using less than 10% of its capacity, and for those who argued this, I said that I was referring generally to what we had conscious awareness of, ongoing, day to day.

“Front 10” and “back 90”

Then, I would put the palm of my hand on my forehead (and ask my class to do the same) and I would say something like this:

OK, this is the 10% of the brain we are using to do our everyday tasks. This is the “front 10.” Of course, it isn’t in front necessarily. I am just using this to help us get a grip on this concept.

Then I would place the palm of my hand on the back of my head (and ask my class to do the same) and say something like this:

And this is the 90% of our brain that supports the “front 10.” No charge. 😮 Of course, it isn’t n the back necessarily. I am just using this model to make some points which are powerful for learning. We’ll call it the “back 90.”

The “back 90” looks after things for us without our asking. It controls the incredible chemical and electrical complexity that runs our immune system, our digestion, our body chemistry, our heartbeat, our automated movements such as walking and running, and so on. It has immense capacity.

How does the “back 90” help us with learning?

When we are learning something new, when we are changing in some way, physically or mentally or emotionally, our “front 10” is hard at work doing whatever it is that we do when we are learning something new. This is the part we are “paying attention to” if you like.

However, the “back 90” is backing up our “front 10” learning effort by supplying all that we need to do the task.

For example, when we speak, we “head out in the general direction” of what we want to say. However, we don’t have to stop before each new word in the sentence we are about to speak to figure out what comes next, generally speaking. We just “speak on” and the “back 90” assembles the word sequences in the sentences for us, without our knowledge as it were. :o)

Nice friend to have, eh?

Example of a student who was struggling with learning

One of my clients, a student in grade seven, was having a terrible time in science. I showed him the “front 10” and “back 90” concept and asked him to put his hands on his head as I was doing.

Then I said:

Just think, you are using only the “front 10” to get those low marks, right?


What would happen if you learned how to harness up the “back 90” to help you?

What do you mean?

You’d have 90% more horsepower to bring to bear on the learning task!

Cars and horsepower he understood. This helped him immensely.

We learned together how to harness up the “back 90” to help him do better in his science class.

Would it surprise you to learn that he went from 34% in his grade seven science course to 74%?

To harnessing more brain horsepower!

Doc Meek, Mon, July 5, 2010, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

“What if you are smarter than you think?”

J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
Trusted Learning/Teaching Guide
[“Everyone” says: “Fun to work with.”]


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