Nine abilities that determine who we are and how we learn

The brain is behind everything we do in our daily life: every action, thought, emotion and interaction occur due to the incredible design and capacity of our brains. From childhood to adulthood, our brains determine how we learn, how we perform and how we contribute to the world.

So, how does the brain learn? Through an incredible network of cognitive functions, or in other words, specialised regions that are active in everything we do. As you read this sentence, five different cognitive functions are actively tracking, processing, remembering and conceptualising each letter, word, sentence and its meaning.

Every moment we spend at school, in the workplace, at home or in our personal life can be analysed with different combinations of cognitive functions working together.

These are our essential abilities, and all of them depend on the interaction of each of our unique cognitive profiles:

  • Speech and communication
  • Emotional regulation
  • Attention
  • Fine motor skills for writing
  • Judgement, reasoning and critical thinking
  • Goal setting and execution
  • Mental initiative
  • Introspection and self-reflection
  • Cognitive flexibility

According to Barbara Arrowsmith, “as a result of each cognitive function operating at its own level of competence, each person will have different abilities in each function. This unique cognitive profile makes us who we are. Our cognitive profiles shape how we learn, determine our strengths and challenges, and whether we learn and act with ease and independence or need support from others.”

Since 2017, SEK International Schools offer Arrowsmith’s neuroplasticity programmes to improve students’ ability to be 21st century learners. In addition, researchers from Camilo José Cela University are participating in a Global Collaborative Research Project to study the impact of the Arrowsmith Program on student’s brains and learning.

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