Education and Neuroscience

 

Education and Neuroscience

Tuesday the 26th of May, 2015

Parents and educators are often very persuaded by new ideas such as multiple intelligences, left brain and right brain thinkers, and learning styles that have been supposedly developed from new knowledge about how the brain works.


Parents and educators are often very persuaded by new ideas such as multiple intelligences, left brain and right brain thinkers, and learning styles that have been supposedly developed from new knowledge about how the brain works. However, research and review of these programmes shows that they have little effect on improving educational outcomes for students.

The information used to support these ideas has purportedly been gained from the field of neuroscience where MRI – magnetic resonance imaging is used to track how the brain functions under difference circumstances. This research has certainly enhanced our understanding of how the brain works. We now know that the brain creates connections and networks that are stimulated by different kinds of thinking in order to create our memory. While this has to do with learning, Professor John Clark from the School of Educational Studies at Massey University says that “some aspects of neuroscience are often seized upon to give ‘respectable’ support to programmes, often linked to commercial purposes, which feed on parental anxieties for their children to do well at school.”

He suggests that there is a whole lot more to education than just considering the inner scientific functioning of the brain. He says that education cannot be reduced to learning for there is far more to education than learning alone. Education is about valuing certain things and not other things, of becoming a particular sort of person, of being able to make moral judgements and the like, all of which go well beyond the far more limited sphere of learning. And if you are still wondering why you learned about quadratic equations at school, Professor Clark goes on to say that there are many things we learn at school where we cannot see the immediate value, but later in life the relevance of learning to understand challenging concepts is a skill we would want all of our employees to show.

We agree with Professor Clark especially about the wider value of education. It is a whole lot more than learning.


Professor John Clark (2015) New Zealand Principal (pg. 30 – 31) “Can Neuroscience and Education bridge the is-ought gap of theory and practice?”