When did you last tidy your brain?

Episode 11 of Part 1 of our Introduction series: Setting the stage for success.

Habits:  Little and regular | Action oriented

Skills:  Repetition | Practice

Description:  This episode introduces the concept of top-down and bottom-up mind function, and explains in simple terms how your brain stores information as you learn. We identify the benefit of repetition and practice as it relates to learning, storing and retrieving information.


How this lesson might be discussed with your child

This episode explains how the brain stores information over time, identifying the difference between the top-down and bottom-up minds, and how they support learning, memory and recall of information.

Moving information from the top-down mind to the bottom-up mind, is in simple terms, done through ongoing practice and repetition. This leads to a number of possible discussion topics in relation to how students learn new topics or ideas. 

Possible discussion questions include:

  • Thinking of the alphabet example, how many times do you think you've heard the alphabet in your life?
  • Do you agree that the reason you know it so well is because you've heard it so often?
  • How could you use this information to get to know new topics?
  • Do you think that every idea needs to have the same number of repetitions for you to be able to recall it easily? Why/Why not?
  • Is there anything else that you need to be able to store information well? 
  • How do other factors impact on the number of repetitions you need to store information well?
  • In the previous episode, the idea of focusing your brain was mentioned – do you think your level of focus has an influence over your ability to remember information? Why/Why not?
  • Are there some topics you find you can remember and recall easier than others? 
  • Which topics do you find easy, and which do you find more difficult?
  • For the topics you find easy, do you think you pay more attention or are more focused on them?
  • For the topics you find easy, do you practice or repeat them more often than the topics you find difficult?

Some specific discussion points

Focusing on individuals and practice and repetition have been applied in gaining success, provides and opportunity to discuss some of the following questions:

  • Thinking about your favourite sports star – what makes them so good at their sport?
  • What actions do you think they would have practiced over and over to be able to do them so easily?
  • How many times do you think they would have had to repeat an action to become so good at it?
  • Do you think that if you repeated the same activities as often as they did that you could become exceptionally good at that sport too? Why/Why not?
  • Are there other things you'd have to do, or attitudes you'd have to have to become as good?
  • What information comes to mind that you have stored in your bottom-up mind?
  • What information would you like to have stored in your bottom-up mind?
  • How do you think you might get it stored there?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"A baseball swing is a very finely tuned instrument. It is repetition, and more repetition, then a little more after that." — Reggie Jackson

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe that 'A baseball swing is a very finely tuned instrument'? Why/Why not?
  • How would swinging a baseball bat over and over help you to become a better baseball batter?
  • Is it just the repetition that's important or is there more to it than that? What else would make your baseball swing 'finely tuned'?
  • Do you think that every Major League Baseball player has practiced their swing as often as Reggie Jackson seems to have?
  • If you play a sport – what element of your game could also be 'a finely tuned instrument'?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in reading:

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence
by Daniel Goleman, 2013.