The Past and Present
By Michael Hebron, copyright 2007 all rights reserved
Beyond the hope of progress, what else could make approaches to education and learning more “inviting?”
Individuals who are learning should have more than just the hope of progress – they should know they are
designed to learn without consciously trying. While this may be a counter intuitive insight, it is an accurate
When the human brain has a new experience, or is taking in new information, it unconsciously and
immediately cross-leak, cluster, index, analyze, remix, and reassembles that information and simultaneously
links it to our past experience through the steps of parallel processing.
Parallel processing is an unconscious act that our subconscious uses to see patterns and relationships in
our “in the now” interactions with the environment, then simultaneously links this information to both related
and unrelated past experiences we have had. This unconscious connection of past and present patterns and
relationships is essential to long term learning.
Learning that lasts is grounded in both related and seemingly unrelated experiences or what is called indirect
preparation for learning. Studies into the nature of learning show that learning directly from our experiences
is not biologically possible (learning is a dynamic, organic biological process). Learning or developmental
learning occurs when the patterns and relationships in what is taking place in the present are linked to past
experience stored in our subconscious. This connection is mostly an unconscious event that occurs without
Studies show that the conscious mind is not given important assignments because it does not have any past
experiences available to help guide decisions. We could say up to 95% of what human beings do is
influenced by our subconscious, where past experiences are stored as reference points for guiding future
The human brain is not designed to operate like a camera that is taking one picture at a time. The brain
operates more like a committee that has all its members giving input into the decisions and choices being
made. All of a human being’s past experiences have their unconscious say and influence to some degree
(large or small) what we are doing in the present.
Real or developmental learning is a transforming experience based on the unconscious mental links that find
and tag onto past experiences stored in the brain. The steps and stages individuals go through during a new
learning experience are not separated from prior experiences when long term learning is taking hold.
When new learning experiences take hold, they are supported by links to past personal experiences that
create a data base through what is referred to as active learning. In active learning environments, the acts of
parallel processing travel from one past experience to the next, supporting the kind of learning that lasts. The
patterns and relationships in past experiences when linked to experiences in the present are supporting the
brain’s ability to learn without consciously trying.
In the world of computers, this linking process is accomplished by search engines that pull together the
collective intelligence of the World Wide Web. In the brain, and in search engines we could say what is going
on is a community activity, or group decisions about a topic from a collective point of view. Note: Original
creations are developed from an excellent collection of interconnected ideas, words, and past experiences.
The brain could be seen as operating in a culture of unconscious interactions that participate in rounding up
the past, to make experiences in the present deeper and richer, thereby providing more meaningful insights
into the present.
The brain is normally seen as a discovery tool, but the reality that acts of learning are integrated
unconsciously with past experiences is often overlooked. Successful ideas and actions are woven from many
ideas and other experiences, exposing the reality that the past and present are inseparable. Human beings
are designed to succeed and survive, not to fail. Said another way, we are designed to be influenced by our
past experiences acting as unconscious reference points for guiding future interactions with our environment.
When actively engaged, our subconscious has the ability to influence and guide our thoughts and actions in
the present. When actively engaged there is little we do or think that is actually a first time experience
because our thoughts and actions are being guided by past experiences stored in our subconscious. Staying
actively engaged, is normally referred to as being in the present, but it also allows acts of parallel processing
to help what is going on in the present.