Is there evidence that brain research can help educators?
This question above is highly relevant to all educators. Brain-based teaching is the active engagement of practical strategies based on principles derived from brain related sciences.
All teachers use strategies; the difference here is that you’re using strategies based on real science, not rumor or mythology. But the strategies ought to be generated by verifiable, established principles.
An example of a principle would be…”Brains change based on experience.” The science tells us HOW they change in response to experience. For example, we know that behaviorally relevant repetition is a smart strategy for skill learning. We know that intensity and duration matter over time. Did anyone know the optimal protocol for skill-building to maximize brain change twenty years ago? Yes, some knew them, through trial and error. But at issue is not whether any educator has learned a revolutionary new strategy or not from the brain research. Teachers are highly resourceful and creative; literally thousands of strategies have been tried in the classrooms around the world.
The issue is, “Can we make better informed decisions about teaching, based on what we have learned about the brain?”
Brain-based education suggests we not wait twenty years until each of these correlations are proven beyond any possible doubt. Many theories might never be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s possible that the sheer quantity of school, home and genetic factors will render any generalizable principle impossible to prove as 100% accurate.
As educators, we must live in the world of “likely” and “unlikely” versus the world of “certainty.”
Yet, in the example from above, the data from neuroscience is highly suggestive that gross motor voluntary exercise enhances neurogenesis and that neurogenesis supports cognition, memory and mood regulation. The neuroscience merely supports other disciplines, but it’s a discipline you can’t see with your naked eyes, so it’s worth reporting.
Brain-based advocates should be pointing out how neuroscience parallels, supports or leads the related sciences. But neuroscience is not a replacement science. Schools are too complex for that.
I look forward to your replies.