Friday, July 15, 2011

Final Post: Perception and the Classroom

To understand perception, we must first understand the complexity and the science of the way human beings receive and interpret information; the way we perceive things around us in our world. The human mind has thoughts, emotions, sensory perceptions and memories working together with our neuroanatomy, meaning the structure of the brain and neurophysiology, meaning the way the brain functions. In combination, these functions coordinate the entire body allowing us to respond to an external environment. As humans, we identify cause and affect as we look for ways to make sense of what we are seeing. We look for patterns in an effort to organize the world as we view it or hear it. In order to better understand the way the human brain interprets stimuli from the environment, we must understand two aspects of perception which are bottom-up processing and top-down processing.

Top-down processing is our cognitive influences on perception. It utilizes all the information that we have collected in past experiences and then uses that prior knowledge of a situation allowing us to draw conclusions, have expectation or make predictions about the outcome of a situation. In reverse, when our predictions or expectations are derived from events or stimuli from the environment, it is known as bottom-up processing or data-based processing. In bottom-up processing, we gather information and piece it together in order to analysis it. Information is brought in through our sensory system which allows our brains to then make predictions and create our perception. Eventually top-down processing works simultaneously with bottom-up processing.

It is interesting to understand perception, especially in daily interactions with a variety of age group and personalities, because it broadens the understanding of others view points, helps in assessing situations more accurately and strengthens communications skills. Upon graduating from Richard Stockton College, I plan to work as a middle school teacher at the fifth-eight grade level. This course will provide a foundation of knowledge in understanding how my students interpret information and learn from their environment. Perhaps this course and understanding of perception will assist me in better understanding a student’s body language, gestures or difficulties they may be having in subject matter. “We must form our minds by reading deep rather than wide” (Marcus Fabius Quintilian). Educational philosopher Marcus Quintilian believed that the goal of education, aided by his belief and aim to create the 'perfect orator', was to create an upstanding citizen in every facet of everyday life and to cultivate an individual above the basic standards of nature. I too place significant importance on cultivating well rounded students and recognizing their individual differences. With a better knowledge of perception and understanding of bottom-up and top-down processing, I can provide a platform for a child to grow, learn, ask questions, make mistakes and have the courage to accept challenges without feeling defeated or incapable. The concepts learned in this course relating to perception of color, motion, visual attention, synapses and the function of neurotransmitters, the somatosensory system, auditory and the overall physiology of perception will help me become a more effective educator. This knowledge will assist me in maintaining a classroom environment so my students have the confidence to open their minds to understanding and participating.

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