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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?

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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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Comments (18)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Lavesa Devnnai's picture

I too read the article by Dr. Pat Wolfe on Brain Research: Fad or Foundation. Just like David Devine, I too have questions and have been fascinated on how children learn. Why some are smarter than others given the same age? What makes them learn and retain the information? What can we do to help retain that information? Her article did provide some insights like thanks to this research we now know that the brain is the only organ that sculpts itself from outside experience. Is experience the new form of learning?

Angela Ward's picture

The brain research article Brain Research:Fad or Foundation by Dr. Pat Wolfe was a wonderful article. The article discussed our fasination with the brain. Understanding how it works can answer many questions educators as well as parents have. As commented earlier, I would love more details about "setting up the brain" for academic success. I teacher second grade and I am constantly seeking ways to stimulate the brain of each my students.I would love to see inside their head when they do not understand something and simply see what they see or hear what they hear. Also, the program mentioned, Fast Forward,sounds like something I would be interested in knowing more about. Is anyone familiar with the program or know more information than was mentioned in the article?

Michele M's picture

The article Brain Research: Fad or Foundation truly captured my attention. I never really thought of the structure of the brain and connected it to my teacher. The information I gained though this article is enlightening and I think that thorough research of the brain will allow us to have more insights into how our students learn and how we can help them. I am also always trying to think of engaging and stimulating lessons so that my students can gain the most from their experiences.

Kari's picture

I think the article also pointed out an important problem we have had in the education field. Too many educators hear "research" that they immediatly implement in their classroom before checking into said research to check for validity and accuracy. I am all about diving into the brain and figuring out how to make it perform at it's peak, and I would like to know what I can do as an educator to help my students to be more successful in the classroom. My school has engaged students in a program called "Brain Gym" which involves simple body movements that are supposed to be linked to different aspects of curriculum (creativity, focus, logical thinking, etc.) I can not say that I am an advocate or a skeptic as to whether Brain Gym is helpful or not as I have not used it regularly in my classroom.

Alicia's picture

I found the article about addressing literacy through neuroscience by Steve Miller and Paula Talial to be interesting. It helped me understand the difficulty one of my students is having with Language. He English Language Learner who can read fluently on second grade level (his current grade level) but he has trouble spelling. He is in a difficult situation because his parents speak only Spanish, he cannot read in Spanish, he can read fluently in English, and cannot write very well in either language. He performs on grade level in everything except spelling. I wonder if his difficulty with this is based solely on his lack of phonemic experience with English before he entered kindergarten. Does anyone have any suggestions for helping him improve his spelling?

Perpall's picture

I often joke with my students by telling them I wish I could look into their ear and see what is going on in their brain. Of course this is not the case and so I discuss with them the importance of explaining their thoughts through discussion or writing. Stimulating the brain of each child in my classroom exactly the way it is designed to be stimulated would be the most invaluable strategy available as an educator. Brain based research has always been an interest of mine. I would love to learn more about the 'Fast Forward" program and whether or not anyone has had success with it.

Tiona Gray's picture
Tiona Gray
sixth grade social studies teacher from Altanta, Ga

The article Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation by Dr. Pat Wolfe ideas about brain research and education are connected to ensure students achievement. The article explains how research has shown that retention is directly linked to the methods used to deliver information to the learned. Dr. Wolfe made the point of students learn more through active than passive learning. This article also helps me to understand students having an emotional connection the content helps them retain the information taught. I think the relationship between brain research and education is a foundation of impactful growth to come in developing the way students are taught and learn.

Katie's picture

I find the brain research field very interesting. Our school has been piloting a program called Conscious Discipline that is based upon brain research. The program provides educators with a lot of really helpful information about the things that happen in the brain that lead to some of the behaviors that we see. Similar to the brain gym concept, we start each day the "brain smart" way. We do some activities that are similar to the Brain Gym activities. Additionally, beginning from the first day of school, we teach kids what is happening in their brain. We teach them about dendrites and forming pathways. Sometimes we even talk about the chemicals present in the brain. It is still too early to see the results and efficacy of the program, but I have found the information helpful as I handle my students.

Janet Williams's picture
Janet Williams
Kindergarten Teacher from GA

Being a Kindergarten teacher, I get to experience watching the students learn and grow for the the first time in a school setting. I get to help set the foundation for reading. In some students that comes very easy and for other students it does not. While reading the article, Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation? by Pat Wolfe, I discovered that when students have a difficulity learning to read that they may also have a language processing problem or delay. This turned on a lightbulb for me. I began to think of the students in my class and who have difficulties reading. Most of the students that struggle in reading also have a delay in their language processing skills. The brain is a fascinating organ. The article helped me realize how students have an emotional connection to their learning. The research on the brain and education is a foundation for all educators. It would be beneficial for all educators to read this article to understand how students learn.

Janet Williams's picture
Janet Williams
Kindergarten Teacher from GA

Being a Kindergarten teacher, I get to experience watching the students learn and grow for the the first time in a school setting. I get to help set the foundation for reading. In some students that comes very easy and for other students it does not. While reading the article, Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation? by Pat Wolfe, I discovered that when students have a difficulity learning to read that they may also have a language processing problem or delay. This turned on a lightbulb for me. I began to think of the students in my class and who have difficulties reading. Most of the students that struggle in reading also have a delay in their language processing skills. The brain is a fascinating organ. The article helped me realize how students have an emotional connection to their learning. The research on the brain and education is a foundation for all educators. It would be beneficial for all educators to read this article to understand how students learn.

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