Remember You Are a Genius!

Manitoba Counsellor Magazine

By Shayna Wiwierski, January 4, 2011

I bet you didn't know that the ideal temperature for the brain to learn is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Or that 85 per cent of the messages in your brain are dedicated to keeping you alive. Or even that right now, as you are reading this, you are only using one per cent of your brain. These were just some of the things that Terry Small presented on during his Engaging the Brain, How to Maximize Every Learner's Potential! Workshop on October 22, 2010.

Small presented to a crowd of educational professionals during Manitoba's professional development day, also known as SAG (Special Area Groups), put on by the Manitoba Teachers' Society. The event was held at the Holy Eucharist Parish Centre and he discussed topics on brain engagement principles, like why the brain pays attention, gets stuck, thinks, and works.

"We remember only what we pay attention to. The brain pays attention to what we want. If the brain doesn't pay attention there will be no learning. What's the strategy to link an engaged brain with worthwhile content or process?" says Small, who did 180 lectures and workshops alone last year.

Small, who was an educational teacher for close to 30 years in elementary, high school, and university, broke up his lecture into two parts brain engagement, where it comes from and why it is important; and brain engagement principles, such as the 150 principles and what they were.

"The main thrust of the workshop in the morning is to make people aware of how critical brain engagement is and the ongoing interplay between the brain and the environment. In the afternoon we talked about the practical principles, specific ideas and then what it looks like in the classroom and counselling session or staff meeting."

Small, who currently resides in Vancouver, B.C., also talked about the four main functions of the brain the brain thinks in pictures; the number one job of the brain is to keep you alive; it takes new information and connects it to something already in the brain; and the brain is always engaged with the environment.

Mike Talgoy, who teaches adults at Yellowquill College, learned a lot at the lecture.

"We learn through our brain, and if I can learn through his presentation ways to learn ways to engage, then everyone is going to benefit," says Talgoy. "A lot of students haven't been terribly successful, probably because a lot of them haven't been taught to engage properly."

Lisa Seguin, a resource teacher from Thomson, Manitoba, agrees.

"The brain research stuff is interesting and it can help us to reach the kids that are tough nuts to crack," says Seguin.

Small, 57, has done lectures all over the globe and his online newsletter, the Brain Bulletin, has over 21,000 subscribers. Small also has a DVD, How to Get Better Grades in School, with another DVD and a book on its way.

Even though he has presented to variety of other working professionals including the RCMP, health care workers, Canada Revenue auditors, and more, teachers have always had a special place in his heart.

"Parents, kids, and teachers are great, those are my roots," says Small. "That's my group. I enjoy all kinds of groups, but I've always enjoyed kids. I love my business groups, but I'm most at home with working with the educational community."