Research into the brain and how it develops has exploded in the last couple of decades. We know things about how we think and how we learn that would have been considered science fiction 50 years ago. However, it doesn’t always seem to be the case that public education has kept abreast of all the new information available.
We came across this article, which talks about how the discoveries made in neuroscience must be coupled with the strategies we use for teaching.
One of the most important things we have learned about the brain is the concept of plasticity. This means that the brain changes as it works to integrate new information and experiences. We have seen, for example, that the brains of people with certain types of damage can actually adapt to the damage and restructure to allow the person to function more effectively. That’s a more extreme example.
The article points out how a teacher might assume a student in fifth grade who is bad at math will always be bad at math. But the idea of plasticity might give a teacher a different view and cause them to find new ways of working with the student rather than writing him or her off.
Another thing discussed is the possibility that Attention Deficit Disorder may actually be a developmental disability and that child rearing can have an effect on the disorder. The article even talks about such common-sense items as the idea that children learn better if they’re interested in the subject, or that putting students in a low-stress environment can be conducive to better learning. The truth of these is usually assumed, but now there is actually data to back them up.
Though there is a wealth of information out there about findings in neuroscience, the authors of the article point out that there is still a disconnect between the classrooms and these findings. Better ways of translating the scientific discoveries into classroom-friendly strategies and getting educators and neuroscientists together for dialogue will be essential for a full picture of the learning possibilities.
Public school education has operated in a certain way since its inception, but that static way of teaching and learning is being turned on its head by modern scientific understanding. It turns out that the brain is more complicated and more adaptable than we ever thought. This understanding could lead to revolutions in the way we teach and better results in classrooms for students. All it takes now is for educators to become familiar with and apply the findings of neuroscientists.