Educators and schools around the world are increasingly using the knowledge, techniques, and programs developed from a new understanding of how our brains learn. They are applying neuroscience in their classrooms.
As an educator, you might be asking yourself why would I do this in my school?
Here are some reasons why. Educational neuroscience can:
- Empower teachers with a new understanding about how students learn
- Help students with a range of learning difficulties
- Improve reading
- Deliver individualised learning for every student
- Improve overall school academic performance, including results in national benchmark testing
- Build the learning capacity of each student, so they learn more easily
- Help teachers move closer to creating learning environments, rather than simply delivering curriculum content
- Free teachers' time to teach and add higher value learning opportunities
How would I do it?
Educational neuroscience can be delivered to your students with or without technology.
Neuroscience programs that students access, and teachers administer, via technology have the advantages of:
- Scalability - a single teacher or teacher aide can deliver the neuroscience benefits to many more students than they can without technology.
- Consistency - because computers don't get tired or bored they can continue to provide students with repeated trials of exercises at the required level.
- Adaptability - technology can adapt the degree of difficulty of tasks precisely to the level of challenge best for each individual student as the student makes progress.
- Cost effectiveness - the cost per student is lower with technology than if you use skilled human resources (teachers, psychologists etc) to deliver similar educational neuroscience. This does not mean technology replacing teachers. Instead, it can free teachers' time to provide more high value one on one, or small group/classroom interaction with students.
Nevertheless, you don't need technology to give your students some of the advantages of the insights that the brain research has made available to us all. There are some techniques that teachers can use, and some "pen & paper" neuroscience-based programs available.
7 Tips to Help in Your School
Here are some tips* that can help you make neuroscience work in your school- whether you deliver it via technology or not.
- Train teachers in neuroscientific principles, particularity brain plasticity—the way the brain changes physically during learning
- Teach students about neuroscience, so they have greater knowledge about how their brains work and how they can control their own learning.
- Have students make predictions about the projects they are working on. It engages them more deeply in the outcome and encourages them to repeat the process.
- Make the “perception-action” cycle central to instruction. Students need to make observations and be active during their work.
- Use real-world ideas to help students understand difficult concepts, such as having them build model boats to study buoyancy.
- Consider neuroscience-based learning software that incorporates the concepts above.
- Make time during the day for relaxation sessions so students can rest between subjects. Movement and exercise also provide more oxygen to the brain, which helps in learning.
* Thanks to Matt Zalaznick of District Administrator Magazine for these tips.