• ClaudineOlivier Team

4 pillars of learning


Dear Parents,


This month I would like to talk to you a little about the 4 pillars of learning theorized by the French cognitivist and neuroscientist psychologist (and since January 2018 president of the scientific council of the National Education) Stanislas DEHAENE.

During his lectures and interventions, Stanislas DEHAENE talks about the four pillars of learning for children who are at school; obviously these pillars can also apply to the smallest and I will try, through them, to illustrate a little more our approach.


Pillar 1: Attention

The first pillar of learning is attention. In cognitive science, we call "attention" all the mechanisms by which our brain selects information, amplifies, channels and deepens it.

To be careful is therefore also to be selective - and, consequently, to take the risk of being blind to what we choose not to see.

Impact on children's education: If a child does not understand what to pay attention to, he does not see it, and what he does not see, he can not learn.

At Claudine Olivier: When the team proposes activities for children (individual activities most often with babies, collective activities with the larger ones) it strives to present them with activities with a specific objective, striving to put in place conditions that minimize distraction. That's why we sometimes clean the child's play area, to allow him to focus on a goal and focus his attention only on the task at hand.

What neuroscience today confirms about the importance of attention in learning, proves what other theorists like Maria Montessori have already observed and theorized about.


Pillar 2: Active Engagement

Active engagement is the second pillar of learning: a passive body does not learn. To learn effectively is to refuse passivity, to engage, to explore with curiosity, to actively generate hypotheses and to put them to the test.

Claudine Olivier: The child is actively involved in his learning because he learns by experimentation and not by learning "from the top down".


Pillar 3: The freedom to fail or make a mistake and to receive feedback.

It is almost impossible to progress if you do not start failing - provided you receive a feed back signal, feedback that shows you the right path. This is why error feedback is the third pillar of learning, and one of the most influential educational parameters: the quality and accuracy of the feedback we receive determines the speed with which we learn [...]

Theoretical learning that is tested regularly until understood is the best way to learn.

At Claudine Olivier: The same situations/scenarios are regularly presented to the children. This allows them to "replay the game", to progress and better integrate and understand the concepts that are presented to them.


Pillar 4: Consolidation

Consolidation consists of moving from a slow, conscious, effortful treatment (with a great deal of prefrontal cortex work) to a fast, unconscious, automatic functioning (freeing the prefrontal cortex and thus allowing new learning).

It was discovered that by allowing a person to sleep, even a simple nap, and without re-learning, the measure of performance was improved.

This is because the brain works during sleep: it "puts in order" the novelties it has recorded, probably by replaying them in an accelerated manner.

In children with attention deficit or learning difficulties, we have seen that a rebalancing of their sleep time can have effects as beneficial, if not more, than a pharmacological intervention.

At Claudine Olivier: We try as much as possible to respect the rhythm of the child and that is why nap time is an important time.

When I worked on the design of the nursery, I decided to create a dormitory space, similar, as much as possible, to a room. I felt that a larger modular living space in the sleeping area would not have allowed children to sleep in a deep enough or in an “effective" way.

At Claudine Olivier we do not impose specific nap time (especially in children under one year), we propose a nap when the child shows signs of fatigue.


To learn more about brain plasticity topics and learning principles, I recommend viewing and reading...


Colloque du 20 novembre 2012 au Collège de France en 2012. Conférence sur les grands principes de l’apprentissage. https://www.college-de-france.fr/site/stanislas-dehaene/symposium-2012-11-20-10h00.htm


Article de novembre 2013 dans la revue Paris Innovation http://parisinnovationreview.com/article/les-quatre-piliers-de-lapprentissage-stanislas-dehaene

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