NeuroEducation: The Landscape
By Tracy King, American Academy of Neurology
How do you know what you know? How do bits of information navigate short term memory to long term memory connecting with other ideas to become meaning?
Because of advances in the neurosciences, we have solved several mysteries about the learning brain and are laying down evidenced based strategies for learning under the umbrella of the interdisciplinary field of NeuroEducation.
Brain-based education is gaining traction with degrees offered by prestigious universities such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins, as well as conferences and peer reviewed periodicals by scientific associations such as the Learning & the Brain Society and the International Mind, Brain & Education Society.
What we don’t know
NeuroMyths are still pervasive and must be addressed. These misconceptions are loosely based on scientific facts, but the misunderstanding and misapplication of the science has the potential to cause adverse effects in education practice.
One study comprised of teachers interested in the neuroscience of learning showed on average they believed 49% of the NeuroMyths presented to them (Dekker, et. all, 2012). Two of the most prevalent myths participants believed were learning styles and left-right brain dominance in learners. These misconceptions call for improved dialogue between scientists and practitioners, which is a chief goal of NeuroEducation.
The good news is that many of the brain-based learning recommendations are familiar to experienced educators. The trick is isolating what truly enhances learning and eliminating practices that do not.
What we now know
Learning is a biological process. The primary goal of NeuroEducation is to discover the conditions that optimize learning based on how the brain processes and retains information. Science has revealed how brains, while uniquely organized, still approach learning similarly.
We now understand how the forces of attention and reflection are critical to long term learning and that educators must design learning experiences that take into account cognitive load and mental modeling. We now understand more about how stress, emotions and physical environment can either enhance or inhibit learning. And finally, we are gaining insights into retrieval and what it takes to not only make learning durable, but accessible.
At the LERN Annual Conference, we will explore these essential functions and corresponding strategies for education design with the brain in mind.
[box border=”full”]Ten NeuroMyths
1. Humans use 10% of their brains
2. The brain has an unlimited capacity
3. There are brain differences by race
4. Everything important about the brain is determined by age 3
5. Brain parts work in isolation
6. Some people are more “right brained,” and others are more “left brained”
7. Left and right hemispheres are separable systems for learning
8. Brains objectively record reality
9. Memorization is unnecessary for complex mental processing
10. The brain remembers everything that has ever happened to it