What does Neuroscience have to offer education? • Know the ‘Neuromyths’ and how to handle them • Know how neuroscience can impact on education • Know the problems posed by neuroscience to education • Know the potential benefits neuroscience offers
The Brain Itself Reasoning & movement Integrating information from different sources; Maths Visual processing Memory & auditory skills TLRP: “The brain is the principle organ in learning”
Learning Styles: V, A, K. Premise: Learning in the style favoured by one’s brain means learning is more efficient and secure. Findings: Nope. Tests show learning in a favoured style makes no difference. “wasted effort” Neuromyth? Important: Varying activities and learning styles used in classroom is good – motivation and interest.
Left Brain / Right Brain Take the left brain right brain test and see which side of your brain you use most! Complete and utter rot! No activity has yet been found that does not require both sides of the brain to be performed. Neuromyth!
Other Neuromyths Drink a lot of water Yes – but ONLY if you are thirsty Fish Oils up attention and retention No conclusive proof for children with ADHD, and no proof for general population. Brain Gym No – left/right distinction is rubbish. Exercise has benefits though.
‘Critical Periods’ vs Flexibility Premise: There are ‘critical periods’ for children to learn – if you don’t teach them then, they’ll never learn. Synaptogenesis and synaptic pruning. Brilliant news – this is wrong! In frontal and parietal lobes synaptic pruning doesn’t occur until after adolescence . Problems for yr 9 – the ‘pubertal dip’… Human brains are VERY flexible. Teaching does have an impact!
How neuroscience can impact on education Dyslexia – brain activity in dyslexic children different to ‘normal’ children. Targeted teaching had great results – brain structure and ability changed. Dyscalculia – ‘Number World’ (Griffin, Case & Siegler, 1994 in Bruer) ADHD – 3-6%. Genetic disorder. Not the child’s fault – but teaching (as well as medicine) can have an impact. Good teaching can be undermined by brain based factors like learning anxiety; ADHD; poor social skills – neuroscience can help alleviate these
Potential of neuroscience to aid teaching and learning The Power of Visualising Early Identification of SEN Teaching strategies to address literacy problems – maybe even interpretations! Attention
Dangers of neuroscience There is a “need to avoid considering differences in brain activity between different groups of children (and adults) as evidence for permanent, biologically determined differences in ability. Biology is not Destiny. Education can critically influence how the brain operates” TLRP e.g. J. Barnard Davis ‘On the weight of the brain in the Negro’ (in Anthropological Review Vol 7.25; April 1869)
Dangers of neuroscience Smart drugs – value of a ‘bought’ education? Implications A Bridge too far? Need second cognitive science bridge. Problems with methodology and interpreting results of neuroscience Neuro - feedback – limited applications
Conclusions? MASSIVE potential – but brain scans don’t = lesson plans Dialogue between neuroscientists and teachers necessary for progress and genuine innovations in schools The ‘Neuroeducator’- Professional of the future? Fuller & Glendening The flexible brain!
Neuroscience for teachers Importance of: Diet – beans on toast; eggs; salad; yoghurts Sleep – 21hrs awake makes you legally drunk. Replay. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol Exercise Be aroused! Use it or lose it
Bibliography John T Bruer ‘Education and the brain: A bridge too far’ in Educational Researcher, Vol 26.8; (nov 1997), pp4-16. The TLRP Report on ‘Neuroscience and Education: Issues and Opportunities’ (not yet published – next week!) Paul Howard Jones. Usha Goswami – Neuroscience and Education in British Journal of Educational Psychology (2004) Vol 74 pp1-14. Usha Goswami – Neuroscience and Education: from research to practice? In Nature Reviews Neuroscience (available online from the Cambridge Centre for Neuroscience in Education http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/neuroscience/index.htm