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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Is brain research useful for educators?

Is brain research useful for educators?

Related Tags: Brain-Based Learning
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Brain research is relatively a new resource for teachers. There have been many conferences and books about the brain and education. In the article “Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation” Pat Wolfe describes many theories that explain the qualities of the brain. He mentions Plato, Aristotle, Descartes inaccurate theories of the brain and compares their fascinations to educators. It seems obvious why teachers are so interested in brain research because the brain is the muscle used for learning. So much about the brain is still ambiguous. I do believe that the new research is a great tool for teachers. The research will provide a better understanding of our students therefore, better our student’s learning.

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Megan's picture

I have also recently read the same article. I think that brain research is a great tool for educators. During college I was required to take several psychology classes where we studied the functions of the brain and discussed brain research and it's role in education. It is amazing how quickly I had forgotten those great lessons. Now looking back over my readings for my graduate work I am reminded how important brain research is in teaching. If we can understand how the brain stores different information then we can learn how to best teach our students in ways they will remember for more than just a few months.

Shannon's picture

I also just read the article you are speaking about and found it very fascinating. I feel that the research on the human brain will most definitely help teachers educate their students in a more effective way. By researching the brain, they have found ways of helping students with reading difficulties and language delays. They studies on memory and learning are very beneficial to educators and I am looking to learn more about the brain in order to enhance the learning of my students. What I find fascinating is that there is still so much to learn about the human brain.

Linda's picture

I too feel that brain research has huge potential for learning breakthroughs within our classrooms. Having read some of the articles on brain research, one reservation which I have is that we are going to be presented with programs which will target students with phonological,morphological,sematic and syntactic difficulties at huge financial costs. In these difficult economic times, how can brain research help us as classroom teachers without "breaking the bank"!I look forward to expanding my understanding on how we learn and how we can more effectively be helping our struggling readers, especially our English as a second language learners.

Kristina's picture

I too have read some of the same articles and I am inclined to agree with everyone that has posted. Understanding how the brain works would give teachers more of a solid ground to work from. I thought the article Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation made a great point when discussing how the loack of knowledge of how the brain works leaves educators at the mercy of powers that be that do not always have experience in the classroom. If we had a better understanding of how the brain functions, we would be able to argue more concretely that the strategies we use are the best. I also thought that the fact that we use way more than 10% of our brains was interesting to know.

Rachael Cook's picture

I have been a fan of brain based research for a long time. I am so happy that many other teachers are becoming interested in this topic. I hope that it is not a fab! I feel that many teachers on my campus are against this because it does in turn create more work on our part. I had a teacher tell me at the beginning of this year that she did not want to change the way she teaches from text book to hands on because it was too much work.

Hanna's picture

I do not think that I had ever really considered reading about brain research to improve my teaching until I had read the article as well. It is most definitely important to think about especially for our ESL students as well as the students who have learning disabilities. We as teachers should be able to accommodate students.

David Devine's picture

What I would like to know more about is what teachers at the preschool and primary grade levels can do for students to "set up the brain" for future academic success. As a first grade teacher, I am always experimenting with new methods for stimulating the brain and the body. We cannot forget that mind and body are closely connected. My class takes what I like to call "brain breaks" every hour. These breaks may only be a few minutes long, but the effect on my students is profound.

How can calming the mind and body through yoga/meditation, as well as stimulating the five senses affect the brain's ability to absorb and store information? How can teachers use this information to help struggling readers? students who struggle with math? students with special needs? These are all questions I would like to investigate.

Paula Attalla's picture
Paula Attalla
First grade teacher

I agree brain research is promising in teaching students, but the examples given are often for the higher grade levels. Is it because the prior knowledge to make connections to is limited in early learners?

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