We have all had memorable academic experiences in our lives. Some of those experiences may be very positive while others perhaps a bit more difficult. As I think about my own storied academic past, the most valuable of those memories were ones in which the teacher engaged me actively in the class. As an adult, I still have vivid recollections of my favorite science teacher tolerating my never ending stream of questions and putting me to task in an effort to satisfy my curiosity!
That science teacher did not just spoon-feed me the answers and hope I would remember them for the test. My science teacher did not just subject us to lectures and expect that students dutifully took notes. In that class, we made things with recycled materials, drew out our ideas, co-taught lessons, tested scientific theorems with hands-on projects, and had interesting debates about the topics we covered. I remember the class even riding a roller coaster to test velocity, speed, and other aspects of physics. As an adult, I continue to value being truly immersed in whatever I am learning. Whether that is trail running, reading, or doing homework with my kids, I believe learning best occurs when it is combined with feeling and doing.
In today’s popular narrative on education, the “doing” that I enjoyed as a student is now often referred referred to as “multimodal learning”. Current research suggests that information that engages at least 2 of the 5 senses supports the neural pathways in the brain that allow for sustained recall of information. Regardless if we are teaching a student to make and maintain eye contact during a social interaction or to master the Pythagorean Theorem, we increase their likelihood of success by engaging them on multiple sensory levels. At Black Mountain Academy, our goal each day is to provide a wide range of experiences for students including hands-on lessons in our new science lab, physical education at our local YMCA, literary exploration at the local library, drawing class at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, or through a community service project in town.
We believe that multimodal learning is is a crucial factor in helping our students achieve not only academic success, but also their own personal growth and skill development. Education at its best is not simply about delivering and processing information, but guiding a student toward inquiry, complex problem solving, and the integration of learning in their everyday lives.
Today’s blog was written by Brandon Moffitt, founder and executive director of Black Mountain Academy. Prior to becoming a therapist, Brandon was a teacher in a public classroom setting. Though his own educational journey, working closely with students over the course of his career, and through raising children of his own, he understands the value of active engagement and experiential learning both in and out of the classroom. Brandon is a passionate advocate for multimodal learning and believes strongly that our students at Black Mountain Academy learn best by “doing”. If you would like to learn more about Black Mountain Academy please call 828.767.5509.