Saturday, February 22, 2020 | ePaper

Neuro-education: The Hot New Area in Education

We are going to get real academic reform

  • Print


William Klemm, Ph.D :
I just returned from the Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning conference in Aspen, Colorado. Neuro-education is a hot new education movement based on transitioning discoveries about brain function into teaching practices. Actually, this is what I have been doing since 2004 with my efforts to find practical applications in memory research and explain them to teachers and students (see thankyoubrain.com).
You would never guess who the conference organizers invited to be the keynote speaker. It was Goldie Hawn. Yes, I mean the famous actress many of us think of as a ditsy blonde. She is a grandmother now, but still vivacious and attractive (and I was thrilled with our brief visit). Goldie has created a neuroscience-based "Minds Up" educational Foundation and program to improve learning in elementary school children (see thehawnfoundation). Her program espouses some of the things that are central to brain-based education. She shows that even those we think of as ditsy blondes are interested in neuroscience and how it can help us learn and remember. Elementary school teachers are using her approach not only to teach neuroscience (see, it is not arcane), they also teach kids to be more introspective about how what they feel, think and do affects the brain and their learning.
Showing kids how to be aware of and control their feelings and behavior is a key part of neuro-education. The experts refer to this capability as "Executive Function," which they simplistically ascribe to the prefrontal cortex (pfc). The pfc is the part of the brain that is most developed in higher primates, such as chimps, apes and humans. As such, the pfc is certainly crucial to executive brain functions. But many researchers, including me, have shown that higher cognitive functions arise from widespread action across many parts of the neocortex.
Anyway, from a teaching perspective, what is important about Executive Function training is teach kids how to be better at it. Goldie's program emphasizes teaching kids to recognize when they are wired, upset, angry, or have other emotions that interfere with their learning. By being more self-aware, they have a better chance to control themselves.
I also met at that conference, Nobel Prize physicist, Carl Wieman, now Associate Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology. His talk stressed that educators need to emphasize concepts and principles. He also made the point that everybody who has gone to school tends to think they are an expert in learning. But he emphasized, "novices seldom recognize what they do not know, especially in education."
Also presenting at the conference was the U.N.'s World Bank's education director, Helen Abadzi of the (and fellow Auburn graduate), She told me about the science-based reform initiatives the Bank is pursuing in developing countries.
We all know that U.S. education is in crisis. Many think the solution is just to spend more money. But there is plenty of non-partisan research showing there is no reliable correlation between funding and educational achievement. The plea for more money is akin to the fallacy of solving the federal budget deficit crisis by borrowing still more money. No, the solution for both problems is to stop doing things that don't work and do more of what does. The ideas of "neuro-education" are crucial to effective reform.
Research in this area includes, in addition to training Executive Function, such things as reasoning training, improving working memory, ways to improve memory consolidation and retrieval, and treatments for reading disabilities and ADHD.
(William Klemm, Ph.D., is a senior professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University).

More News For this Category

Course on academic writing for university students

Course on academic writing for university students

Campus Report :SkillsPro organized a four-day certificate course on 'Mastering Academic Writing for the University Students', which has been inaugurated on Friday. Dr Saber Ahmed Chowdhury, Associate Professor, Dept

Easy Rules to Use Bangla Keyboard

Easy Rules to Use Bangla Keyboard

Khondoker Muhammad Shafiul Azam :English Typewriter was invented in 1873 and after 67 (Sixty seven) years first Bangla Typewriter was invented in 1940. The Remington Company made the Bangla

Mental health crises of PhD students

Mental health crises of PhD students

Matthew Smith :Recently, there have been numerous stories in the mainstream media and on social media about the mental health problems suffered by Ph.D. students. One recent take from

The evolved mathematics of cooperation

The evolved mathematics of cooperation

Amber Cazzell, Ph.D :By studying the advantages of various behavioral strategies, game theory gives us a peek into what actions are beneficial to genes, and are therefore likely to

Deal with daycare

Deal with daycare

Noam Shpancer, Ph.D :The U.S. family has undergone fundamental changes over the past two generations. In the mid-twentieth century, the male breadwinner/female homemaker family was both normative and aspirational.

Physical Activity during Class

Physical Activity during Class

Christopher Bergland :School-age children who perform short bursts of physical activity during class-such as jumping jacks, star jumps, or jogging in place-do better academically than their sedentary peers, according

Failure

Failure

Nick Morgan, Ph.D :Failure is fashionable.  It's a poor conference or meeting that doesn't have someone celebrating the delights of failure and its improving lessons.  "Fail Fast" is a

Writing for the Public

Writing for the Public

Jonathan Wai, Ph.D :There's been much discussion about the needless complexity of academic writing.In a widely read article in The Chronicle of Higher Education last year, Steven Pinker, professor

Community partnerships: Supporting refugee students

Community partnerships: Supporting refugee students

Rebecca Vukovic :A school located in the heart of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory has partnered with a local refugee centre to support young people from a refugee or

More physically active lessons

More physically active lessons

Dominique Russell :Implementing physical activity has been shown to have a positive effect on student engagement and educational outcomes, a new systematic review shows.The research, Physically active lessons in