Educators educating Educators

Sep 23

MBE Science Intro

Mind, Brain, Education science


“We know little of what goes on in the brain when we learn, but hardly anything about what goes on when we teach.”

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Uta Firth from their excellent book on education, The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education


In with Mind, Brain, & Education science: Out with Brain-Based Learning

Educators today are faced with many difficult and multifaceted problems. Arne Duncan, U. S. Education Secretary of Education, noted in a November 4, 2010 speech, “One-quarter of the U.S. high school students drop out or fail to graduate on time.  Almost one million students leave our schools for the streets each year.”

Thomas L. Friedman, N. Y. Time’s columnist and author of the best selling book The World is Flat writes that, “One of the most unusual and sobering press conferences I participated in last year was the release of a report by a group of top retired generals and admirals.  Here was the stunning conclusion of their report: 75 percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24, are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit.  American’s youth are now tied for ninth in the world for college attainment.”

Obviously, we have complex problems.  Therefore, since we have complex problems, we need complex solutions.  What we have been doing in our classrooms for the last few decades is not working.  We need more help in education and more information from different sources to solve our problems.

Good teaching methodologies and activities can come from a single discipline, bilateral cooperation between disciplines, or from multiple disciplines.  However, the more academic fields that offer support for a teaching methodology or activity, the more credible it is.

One loosely applied solution to education problems in the popular press has been the use of so-called “brain-based learning.”  One of the main problems researchers have found with brain-based learning is that many of its practices and methods are not grounded in or constructed on established theories, and have been applied indiscreetly and inconsistently to classroom teaching practices for far too many years.

In its place a new methodology has been developed that is derived from education philosophy and theories that have been proven and duplicated by fellow researchers.  Mind, Brain, and Education science is based on standards in neuroscience, psychology, and education.

You want to find your teaching pattern based on your educational beliefs.  You want to spend your time in the classroom at the intersection of three components of your training; psychology, neuroscience, and education.  The intersection of these factors forms your pedagogy: the foundation of your educational beliefs and where you should be spending your time teaching.



In some instances this means teachers will be integrating psychology into their practice.  In yet others, it will entail the use of neuroscience to help elevate pedagogy or solve classroom problems.  In other cases, it will mean a teacher uses psychology and neuroscience to help blend and bridge the hard and soft sciences with the art of education.




Welcome back to another school year. I hope your summer was relaxing and invigorating and you are looking forward to the approaching school year and the opportunity to stimulate and challenge your students’ minds.

This summer I was able to study Sir Ken Robinson, a British author, speaker and international advisor on education to governments, non-profits, and education organizations

I, like many people, find his writings and Ted Talks not only witty and inspiring but also thought-provoking and challenging. Much of his work deals with the diversity of intelligence, the power of imagination and creativity, and the importance of commitment to our own capabilities. He posits that the noticeable lack of them in our schools negatively affect students’ learning and teachers’ productivity and the absence of them is triggered by the demands of standardized testing.

I hope you find Sir Ken Robinson’s words inspiriting and challenging as I do and be mindful of them as you plan for the new year. Here is to a great 2017-2018 school year!