It’s your own time you’re wasting

CC Licensed photo by Flickr user alamosbasement. Click for source.British teachers have voted to receive training in neuroscience ‘to improve classroom practice’ according to a report in the Times Educational Supplement and the debate sounded like a full-on serial head-desker.

The idea of asking for neuroscience training at all sounds a little curious but the intro seemed like it could be quite reasonable:

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) at the union’s annual conference narrowly voted for a motion calling for training materials and policies on applying neuroscience to education and for further research on how technology can be used to develop better teaching.

Now, this could be just a request to be kept up-to-date with the latest educational neuroscience developments. Sounds fascinating but probably not that practically useful as neuroscience doesn’t really have much to offer your average classroom teacher.

Enter Julia Neal, a member of the council for the union’s leadership division and leading member of the head-desk working group:

“It is true that the emerging world of neuroscience presents opportunities as well as challenges for education, and it’s important that we bridge the gulf between educators, psychologists and neuroscientists.”

Neuroscience could also help teachers tailor their lessons for creative “right brain thinkers”, who tend to struggle with conventional lessons but often have more advanced entrepreneurial skills, Ms Neal said.

Entrepreneurial skills being a well known function of the ‘right brain’. It’s why Bill Gates always veers slightly to the left when he walks. So why this sudden interest in neuroscience in the classroom I wonder?

Earlier this year, the government-backed Education Endowment Foundation and the Wellcome Trust launched a £6 million scheme that will fund neuroscientific research into learning.

Kerching! But the best bit of the debate is where a neuropsychologist stands up and goes ‘well, I don’t think it’s as simple as you’re making out':

However Joanne Fludder, a classroom teacher in Reading with a doctorate in neuropsychology, opposed the motion.

She told the conference that the field was “very complicated” and theories were “still in flux” as research was carried out.

Boo! Get her off!
 

Link to article in the Times Educational Supplement

4 Comments

  1. Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    They don’t even appear to understand the research they’re requesting. What they want are behavioral studies, not brain scans. More importantly, have they investigated their own teacher skills? I don’t know about the UK but here sadly too many teachers don’t even understand the subject they’re teaching. Some of Finland’s educational prowess is overstated but they do in fact have teachers that must earn Master’s degrees and why not “study” countries where students perform well on global tests – they would have to also consider whether a standardized test is the best way to measure education. Around and around.

  2. Posted April 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Fludder has a valid point. but if people used that stock excuse to avoid the new, we would never get anywhere. applause for Neal and her team

  3. Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    So far, the interest in ‘cognitive sciences’ on the ground in education appears to be already going the way of right brain thinking and brain gym. Blogged about it here http://logicalincrementalism.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/education-reform-evaluating-the-evidence/

  4. Posted April 18, 2014 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Here’s a recent example of what I mean http://websofsubstance.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/issues-with-cognitive-load-theory/


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