by Cogni'Junior in collaboration with the Donders Institute
oceanateam@donders.ru.nl

Why teach neuroscience?

Why do we teach neuroscience in class?

Current situation

Our society evolves as fast at new technological developments do. We want our commodities to be faster and more attractive. Teachers have difficulty with the lack of attention children display in class.

Schools are now faced with this question of how to improve attention and learning: the directors and teachers need to work together to come up with new solutions.  These school work in collaboration with experts in education, researchers, and teachers with innovative teaching methods (e.g., interventions by Francois Taddei or Stanislas Dehaene) to better understand learning processes, and to re-evaluate the teaching processes applied in class.

As a part of this approach, we at OCEANA are working on questions like:

How can we optimise the learning and concentration of students whose behaviour and concentration is being affected by today’s new lifestyle?

Which strategies should we adopt to optimise teaching strategies to facilitate students and teachers?

 

Input from neuroscience

Today, these issues are rising to prominence and scientific research studies are being conducted within and across the fields of social, cognitive, and neuro-sciences. There are no miracles to improve education, but the conclusions from today’s research on education and learning will be able to facilitate education staff by supporting or rejecting existing teaching strategies and methods.  These research outputs can also guide and inform politicians and educational directors on the direction of education development. Over time, this guidance allows for more partnerships between researchers and educators to be put in place, allowing both parties to succeed and to achieve the goal of action research.

Many functions of the brain are involved in how we learn, these include attention, memory, the regulation of emotions and motivation, and dealing with stress. Naturally, these functions also affect an individual’s well being at school. Certain solutions to improve education and learning, based on cumulative scientific evidence, have already been proposed by researchers. One example is the necessity of sleep to improve retention of (new) information.  Unfortunately, this large demand from educational staff to make use of neuroscientific research to improve teaching methods  requires time. Here, at Cogni Junior, and all related projects, our aim is to begin planting the seeds to provide a fertile environment to test and determine which teaching methods are useful.  In parallel, we want to disclose which methods pretend to be based on neuroscientific knowledge but are in fact not scientifically validated. . Ultimately, for the improvement and education of our future generations,  we hope to minimise the expansion of these non-scientifically-validate teaching methods, while encouraging the growth of scientifically-validated ones.

 

We are taking support in research showing that:

  • teaching how the brain and learning work improve academic achievement: Dekker & Jolles, 2015; Paunesku et al., 2015; Claro & Dweck 2016
  • regulating stress and emotions matters in the developing brain: Hedges & Woon, 2010
  • understand how attention, executives functions, emotions work and can be regulated impact socio-emotional skills and latter professional outcome: Diamond 2010, 2011; Schonert-reichl et al., 2015; Deheane – 2014, Houdé – ongoing school program 2017