Learning Sciences of Change

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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Mind, Brain, and Education – Implications for Educators

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This issue of LEARNing Landscapes shares historically, theoretically, and practically how the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and education are working together to get a more cohesive understanding of the physiology of the brain, and to implement learning in more effective ways. In the 1970s classroom teachers were influenced by the renewed interest in the work of pragmatist and educator, John Dewey, who advocated strongly for learning by doing and for including the arts/aesthetics in education, and by the work of psychologist, Jean Piaget, who demonstrated the significance of the early learning that occurs when a child interacts with his or her environment. By the 1980s, the work of Lev Vygotsky had been translated from Russian into other languages, and educators realized that language mediates learning and, therefore, the social interaction among peers, with caregivers, and teachers, contributes significantly to how learners construct and understand their worlds. The work of psychologist Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences sent a message to the world about the need to tap into the various strengths of students and to permit them to use multiple modes for “receiving” and communicating/representing their learning. At the same time, sociolinguist and educator Shirley Brice Heath was showing not only how important it is to start the learning from where the child is and where his/her propensities lie, but also to be aware of and value where the child is coming from to enhance his or her potential. A missing piece in the evolving understanding of learning was what was developing in the field of neuroscience, particularly in the 1990s. New and sophisticated imaging technology permitted scientists to actually see the brain at work and provided new insights about learning. It is the recent integration of mind, brain, and education (MBE) research that is helping to enhance our understanding of learning and contribute to more effective teaching. This issue illustrates many aspects of MBE work and how practice is being affected by it.

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Written by learningchange

09/04/2014 at 13:52

Posted in Brains, Education, Mind

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Education and Health – Free choice of hospital may reinforce social differences

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People with higher education, and people who live in areas with a low mortality rate, are overrepresented among users of the free choice of the hospital system. Research shows that the system has reduced waiting times nationally, but different sections of the population make very different use of the system. “One of the findings is that people with higher education are more mobile than people with a lower education level.” This means that people with higher education travel more than people with less education in order to get swift treatment. The reason for the difference may be that highly educated people are better informed about their options. “When they become ill, I think they are less willing to wait. So they find out what their rights are and avail themselves of the services available to them”. In addition, Educated people may be more health-conscious than people with less education. “That is something we also see in other studies, for example that educated people go to their GP more often.”

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Written by learningchange

25/03/2014 at 07:21

Posted in Education, Health, Society

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We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education

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Recent advances in neuroscience are highlighting connections between emotion, social functioning, and decision making that have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the role of affect in education. In particular, the neurobiological evidence suggests that the aspects of cognition that we recruit most  heavily in schools, namely learning, attention, memory, decision making, and social functioning, are both profoundly affected by and subsumed within the processes of emotion; we call these aspects emotional thought.  Moreover, the evidence from brain-damaged patients suggests the hypothesis that emotion-related processes are required for skills and knowledge to be transferred from the structured school environment to real-world decision making because they provide an emotional rudder  to guide judgment and action. Taken together, the evidence we present sketches an account of the neurobiological underpinnings of morality, creativity, and culture, all topics of critical importance to education. Our hope is that a better understanding of the neurobiological relationships between these constructs will provide a new basis for innovation in the design of learning environments.

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Read also: What is Wisdom and how is it Learned?

The Heart-Brain Connection: The Neuroscience of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning

Written by learningchange

04/11/2013 at 12:30

Neuroscience and the Classroom – Making Connections

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Welcome to Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections. This
course provides insight into some of the current research from cognitive science and neuroscience about how the brain learns. The major themes include the deep connection among emotion, thinking, learning, and memory; the huge range of individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses that determine how we perceive and understand the world and solve the problems it presents us; and the dynamic process of building new skills and knowledge. The course invites you to examine the implications of these insights for schools and all aspects of the learning environments we create for our children teaching, assessment, homework, student course loads, and graduation requirements. It is not a course that offers easy answers or proposes teaching methods that can be universally applied. Rather, it provides new lenses through which to view the teaching and learning challenges you face and invites you to discover your own answers to your own questions.

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Read also: Course Guide

Written by learningchange

08/03/2012 at 14:00

From Brain to Mind: Using Neuroscience to Guide Change in Education

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This book offers the reader an engrossing and coherent introduction to what neuroscience can tell us about cognitive development through experience, and its implications for education. Stating that educational change is underway and that the time is ripe to recognize that the primary objective of education is to understand human learning and that all other objectives depend on achieving this understanding, James Zull challenges the reader to focus on this purpose, first for her or himself, and then for those for whose learning they are responsible. In this work presents cognitive development as a journey taken by the brain, from an organ of organized cells, blood vessels, and chemicals at birth, through its shaping by experience and environment into potentially to the most powerful and exquisite force in the universe, the human mind. Zull begins his journey with sensory-motor learning, and how that leads to discovery, and discovery to emotion. He then describes how deeper learning develops, how symbolic systems such as language and numbers emerge as tools for thought, how memory builds a knowledge base, and how memory is then used to create ideas and solve problems. Along the way he prompts us to think of new ways to shape educational experiences from early in life through adulthood, informed by the insight that metacognition lies at the root of all learning. At a time when we can expect to change jobs and careers frequently during our lifetime, when technology is changing society at break-neck speed, and we have instant access to almost infinite information and opinion, he argues that self-knowledge, awareness of how and why we think as we do, and the ability to adapt and learn, are critical to our survival as individuals; and that the transformation of education, in the light of all this and what neuroscience can tell us, is a key element in future development of healthy and productive societies

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Written by learningchange

16/12/2011 at 02:59

Towards ecological literacy: A Permaculture approach for science learning

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The profound lack of sustainable systems on our planet is of great concern to environmentalists, some of who are educators and some of who are permaculturists.

Many of the problems facing Earth and its inhabitants are caused by a lack of ecological literacy among much of the human population. Ecological literacy includes an understanding of the scientific principles of ecology, including the recognition of limits and possibilities. It also includes an attitude of care toward the environment and a commitment to act. Finally, it requires the ability to recognize interconnectedness; what some people call systems thinking.

Unfortunately, ecological literacy is not nurtured in most schools. At the same time, many science courses are taught in ways that turn too many students off to science. Students complain that science is too hard, boring, and has no relevance to their lives.

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Written by learningchange

02/12/2011 at 14:26

On the origin of education

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To deny the importance of teaching evolution is to fail to grasp a basic truth about children.

Why do I feel so strongly that evolution should be a part of every child’s education? In large measure it is because Darwin enables us to see ourselves in a new light. For all that we are the most special of species – with our unrivalled capacity for language, for thought, for morality and for reason – we are not wholly distinct from the rest of creation. We share a common ancestor with every mammal, with every animal; indeed, with every organism.

And then an evolutionary perspective on life can help us more rigorously assess our strengths and our weaknesses. We are the product of a mechanism that puts us first – that’s what natural selection is all about – but we also have the evolved capacities to seek after truth, beauty and goodness: that’s what being human is all about. This should start in the primary classroom.

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Written by learningchange

02/12/2011 at 13:50

Posted in Education, Evolution

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Educating persons, imaging brains – the potentials of Neuroscience for Education

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Cognitive neuroscientists have made striking progress with respect to the basic skills underpinning abilities such as reading and number. Social and affective neuroscientists have similarly identified neural systems involved in aspects of emotion and social cognition, and shown their possible relevance to various educational tasks, although their work has yet to be widely taken up.

Written by learningchange

24/05/2011 at 03:16

Brain Imaging Studies of Intelligence and Creativity – What Is the Picture for Education?

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The goal of this article is to summarize current brain research on intelligence and creativity that may be relevant to education in the near future. Five issues are addressed: (a) Why is there a neuroscience interest in intelligence? (b) Can intelligence be located in the brain? (c) Why are some brains smarter than others? (d) What do we know about creativity and the brain? and (e) Can information about an individual’s brain structure and function be useful to benefit his or her education? As we enter the 21st century, old controversies about measurement of intelligence are less relevant. Integrating neuroscience findings into education practices is a daunting  challenge that will require educators to reexamine old ideas and acquire fundamental backgrounds in new areas.

Written by learningchange

24/05/2011 at 03:12

Fostering creative thinking – Co-constructed insights from neuroscience and education

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  • Although every creative act contains elements of spontaneity, teachers can play a critical role in fostering creative thinking processes through use of environment and strategy.
  • No single part of our brain is responsible for creativity. Some regions linked to producing divergent associations, of the type needed for creativity, appear usually located in the right hemisphere. However, creativity is a complex thought process that calls on many different brain regions in both hemispheres. Left-brain/right-brain theories of learning are not based on credible science and are unhelpful in understanding creativity, especially when used to categorise individuals.
  • Creativity appears to require movement between two different modes of thinking: generative and analytical.
  • Cognitive fixation occurs when we become unable to move beyond an idea or set of ideas. It can be thought of as being stuck in analytical mode. However, in normal circumstances, we can monitor and, to some extent, regulate which mode we are using. In this sense, creative thinking appears amenable to metacognition.

Written by learningchange

16/05/2011 at 02:34