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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Brain Research and Education

Brain Research and Education

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I was just reading an article on how it is important for teachers to know the structure and make up of the brain in order for us as teachers to better be able to adjust our teaching in order to benefit our students and help them to learn. It states that teachers should be aware of the two distictive types of memory (Precedural and Declarative). The article advises that teachers become familiar with the brain, its parts and its function. What I would like to hear is whether we teachers should rely solely on the parts of the brain to influence our teaching? Should we look to appeal to different parts to teach specific lessons? Should we now design a course at Teachers Colleges specifically related to the brain and its role in Education? Im looking forward to reading your comments.

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Comments (207)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Lucy Murray's picture

Every year, I have at least a few students who "get it" the first time around and others who need repetition (sometimes 30-50x) before the information clicks and has meaning for them. Computer based skill work helps in this area with these students. I know I am making the information relevant to them, but there seems to be a need to repeat again and again for it to stick. I would like to learn more about how these learners are "wired" so that I can teach them better.

Angela S's picture
Angela S
music teacher

I think that everyone here has addressed the issue: we know that we have students that will "get it" the first time no matter how it is taught, but the rest require repetition. It is how we choose to explore that repetition that makes us artists. By using the different styles of learning as a guide, and varying the way the information is introduced and processed, we are more likely to give all of our students the success they deserve. The problem is not our is the time we are given to ensure success.

Carly's picture
6th Grade Special Education Teacher, NJ

Hi Jen and All-
Your comment about how we need to "differentiate leaning strategies" to enhance students learning based on parts of the brain really intrigued me.
I wonder if, when the model of differentiate instruction was base on "how the brain works?"
They both work hand in hand to help deliver the best education possible per student. The both are becoming more and more expectable in our educational system.

Carly's picture
6th Grade Special Education Teacher, NJ

Hi Michelle and All-
I agree with your point about there being so much research out there today and being about to truly identify what is factual and realistic. There are a few teachers at my school, where they are very eager "to jump on many wagons" of brain based research methods. I admire them for doing so, but again I find it hard to sort through what is factual and realistic.

Jennifer Cameron's picture

Everyone is making some really good points about brain research. I felt like some of the research supported what I am already doing in my classroom. Does anyone else feel that way?

Heather Maddox's picture
Heather Maddox
Special Education Teacher 4/5
After reading the same article and searching around I found the website for the Fast Forward Reading Program. The website sites some well known brain researchers and it looks like a computer program with many levels. It also has a demo or each level. I checked it out. Pretty intersting.

Ed R's picture

Jennifer, I know what you mean. It seems the more we learn about brain research the more we validate what we are already doing in the classroom intuitivly with our students. I do agree with earlier postings in desiring that teacher education programs include a course on the brain and its role in education. This would go a long way in helping us understand the nuances involved in learning.

Mary's picture
1st grade teacher from Barstow, California

Having read the same or similar article, Addressing Literacy Through Neuroscience,I was also intrigued by the FastForWard program, which according to one study, has had dramatic improvements on test scores from the participants(dyslexic students). I have never heard of this program in my District and I would like more information on its effectiveness for learning language and reading skills.

Ann Cobb's picture

Thanks to Rosa Maria for including the website fo Quantum Learning. Fascinating!

LoriC's picture

Some good questions have been raised by everyone, particularly the role that brain-based research should play in our teaching. For myself, personally, I think that the ideas that the articles we've read make good common sense. I do believe the brain can be retrained and I do believe that we as teachers can have a powerful and positive impact on students with processing disorders if we just understand how their minds work. I've been working with a handful of students for a couple of years now who have gone through Linda Mood Bell training with a dyslexia specialist, which is a multisensory brain retraining, and have seen it work wonders.

As far as the concern that research changes so quickly and that it is hard to sort through what is factual and what is not, I can only offer my own classroom observation. That is that every child is different and as our reading asserts, every brain is different and is constantly changing. What works for one child won't necessarily work for another. What research proves (or disproves) for the majority may not work (or be a huge success) for the minority. The dyslexic specialist that I work with has a "whatever it takes" attitude. She starts with what experience and research tells her will work, but she rarely ends up where she thinks she will in terms of methods or activities. She tweaks, retries, comes at things from a new direction until she figures out what gets a student's brain to make a connection that sticks.

So maybe we need to consider brain-based techniques a tool, rather than a philosophy, and approach this sort of learning like Thomas Edison might have. Try it, see what works, and learn as much from the failures as you do from the successes.

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