Finally, MRI research techniques for learning get applied to math
But, we have to go to an overseas newspaper to learn about it!
It’s no surprise – Many parents already instinctively know it: students need to drill and practice to develop skill in math. But, what is new is that science is now backing that hunch up.
In “Now it all adds up! Scientists take a peek into the human brain and discover how children learn mathematics skills,” the online version of the London Daily Mail reports:
“Research carried out on elementary school-age children has revealed that drilling children on simple addition and multiplication may pay off.”
In fact, researchers using sophisticated functional MRI machines to look at actual human brain activity say:
“So learning your addition and multiplication tables and having them in rote memory helps.”
So much for those old ideas from the early days of KERA when educators confidently told us that “drill kills” learning. Bluntly put, those unscientific educators didn’t have a clue.
But, are things getting better?
Supposedly, the implementation of Common Core State Standards is bringing an end to some of those failed ideas from the early days of KERA, but I am not so sure. There is a lot of online discussion about math programs that at least used to be heavy on the “drill kills” theory that are still floating around in schools today. Some of those programs are pretty lean on math practice in the early grades, something the new fMRI research says can lead to real problems as students move on to more demanding math lessons.
In fact, while Common Core does require some math skills to be mastered, the new fMRI research may indicate that the new standards do not call for mastery of those skills soon enough. It’s something thoughtful educators need to carefully reassess.