Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
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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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.