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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Brain Research and Education

Brain Research and Education

Related Tags: Brain-Based Learning
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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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Tamar Blake's picture
Tamar Blake
Early Childhood teacher ages 5-6 years from Montego Bay, Jamaica

I agree with both Andrea and Jennifer. It would be good to go into the classroom equipped with information on how the brain works.
I also read an article that encouraged repitition as a good method of helping the brain to lock in information. I have observed that the more I repeat information or instructions for my K2 the more they remember and follow through on tasks.

karen's picture

I think all teachers should be required to have a course or two on cognitive learning, memory and how the brain works. It is the body organ we as teachers are dealing with on a daily basis, after all! After reading several articles about the brain and how it affects learning, my appetite to learn more increased. I can't wait for more research to come out that will enable me as a teacher to help students reach their potentials more easily.

Lori's picture

I agree with Amanda who said "brain research should be a part of a teacher's understanding of students, but should not solely be the basis for educational decisions." To determine if it is just a fad in education or something that requires more attention from the teaching community will take more time. As a teacher our bag of tricks should be filled with many things and brain research should be one of them.

Angela Ward's picture

I am very interested in the information posted about Fast Forward. Have any of you used the program with your students or has it been used within your system.

Angela Ward's picture

I am very interested in the comments made about the program Fast Forward. Have any of you used the program with you students or within your system?

Lindsay Thompson's picture
Lindsay Thompson
4th grade teacher from MI

I like how you said "As a teacher our bag of tricks should be filled with many things and brain research should be one of them." That was very well put! I completely agree with the fact that we should not rely only on what we know about the brain, because as teachers we know there are so many variables that drive our instruction and our decisions.

Anna Forrester's picture

Learning about the functions of the brain is fascinating to me. I've had some personal reasons to celebrate how wondrously complex and amazing the brain functions, because of what I went through with my daughter Kristen. She was born perfectly healthy and normal. When she was 2 months old we attended a baseball game (her father is a coach). A fly ball came out of nowhere and hit her in the head, fracturing her skull. She went through a very hard time- having swelling, seizures, and almost dying. After several months and anti-seizure medicine she healed and recovered. I was told by doctors that because she was an infant, and her soft spot had not closed, that it helped in the healing process.
Just 2 months ago, Kristen, now 27 years old, went to the doctor because she was having severe headaches. They did an MRI on her head and discovered all the damaged tissue from her previous skull fracture. Not knowing her past, and not having any other MRIs to look at, the doctors told her that she had experienced a very significant stroke. (Her brain looked like the brain of an old person who had had a stroke because of the damage as an infant.) It of course, worried her greatly. After consultations and past history check, her neurologist told her that another part of her brain had taken over for the damaged tissue and that her brain had "rewired" itself to compensate for the damage. I am amazed that the brain can have the capacity to rewire itself and take on another function not originally designed to do. Because of this, Kristen is able to function as a very intelligent, capable adult. Her learning capacity never seemed to be impaired as a student.
I am guessing that "rewiring" of the brain is similar to what stroke victims experience. I was wondering if any of you had similar stories or had heard of "rewiring".

Janine's picture
8th grade math teacher

Anna, I find your post very interesting! I have a similar instance with my 17 year old son. When my son was being born, he got stuck in the birth canal and rather than do an emergency c-section they tried the vacuum and then the forceps to help him emerge. The result was an extremely swollen head and brain damage. An MRI was taken to determine the damaged area and the neurologist said he was unsure of the function of the damaged part of the brain. Because he was just a newborn, his brain overrode the damaged tissue and NO side effects ever resulted. His brain "rewired" itself to do what it needed to do. As a side note, my son's mental capacity is extremely intelligent and he was even in the school's gifted program.

Brandie's picture

I also read the same mentioned articles and wondered the same thing about the Fast ForWord program. At my school we participate in a program called Seeing Stars that is also research-based, and seems to target all of the areas of the brain mentioned. Has anyone ever used the Fast ForWord program?

Brandie's picture

Your post made me think of a story I heard on Oprah and the book I later read because of it by Jill Bolte Taylor. I'm not sure if you've read it, but it is a fascinating story of her own stroke. Dr. Taylor is a brain researcher and had a massive stroke, but slowly taught her brain to "rewire" itself. The book is VERY good, and her story is amazing. It is called My Stroke of Insight.

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