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Thought Paper #2

Neuroscience and Learning


Jocelynn Mortlock

ETEC 512-64C

September 30, 2016


As emergent practices of neuroscience enter the field of education, teachers must begin to ask

themselves ‘What is best for the child?’ Educators need to consider that brain-based methods

should not be adopted as a quick-fix for struggling students, but instead they need to be educated

in the neurological processes that occur during learning to assist them in making informed

choices of the way in which they teach.

Although neuroscience is relatively new in terms of the application to the field of

education, many brain-based programs have already been created as an aid for teachers to help

their students learn (Coch &Ansari, 2009). Hastily adopting these programs, however, with little

scientific knowledge about the inner workings of the brain, will not benefit teachers nor students.

Educators must be educated in neuroscience and specific brain-based programs in order for long-

term progress to be seen.

The brain is a complex Rubik’s cube. As a child learns, information within the brain is

shifting as it is being processed, stored and retrieved. Without a concrete understanding of which

part of the brain is working, an untrained teacher may have difficulties assessing a student’s area

of deficiency. They may not be providing adequate strategies to help that child learn. Whether a

child is having trouble with the mathematical language of the question or the mental calculation

of the numbers can be determined with neuroimaging (Zamarian, 2009), but without specific

knowledge of how to identify whether the language processing or arithmetic fact areas of the

brain are seeing deficits, a teacher may be doing more harm than good by choosing problem-

solving strategies versus rote memorization. Knowing how the brain works is key to choosing

the right teaching strategies.

Understanding that the brain is a complex piece of the learning puzzle, with many ever-

evolving components, can assist teachers in making properly informed choices of how they

should be teaching a particular child. Training in neuroscience processes can empower educators

and in the long-run can provide useful insight into a child’s specific needs.
References

Coch, D. & Ansari, D. (2009). Thinking about mechanisms is crucial to connecting neuroscience

and education. Cortex, 45(4), 546-7.

Zamarian, L., Ischebeck, A., & Delazer, M. (2009). Neuroscience of learning arithmetic:

Evidence from brain imaging studies. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 33, 909-

925.