A new article in Education Week, “Scientists Find Learning Is Not ‘Hard-Wired’,” (subscription?) is going to create some interesting discussions around the country about how much we know – or rather don’t know – about how students learn.
The EdWeek article is full of interesting terms like “neuro-myths,” “snake-oil pitches” and “half-truth.”
Comments of note include Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik’s statement:
“We still have a paucity of real, concrete findings in neuroscience that we can say will change what goes on in the classroom.”
The article also says that the development of neuroscience in education was slowed by “turf wars.” As a result:
“In the absence of cohesive collaboration among the disciplines, Dr. Zadina said, teachers, policymakers, and education companies were often left to draw their own conclusions from the research, and they often came to overly simplistic or outright wrong conclusions.”
One interesting research study showed that student teachers were likely to fall for a bogus education article simply because it had pictures of brain scans. The scans were not related to the text of the article.
I could go on, but I think my point is made.
We’ve heard a lot over the past 22 years about how KERA was research-driven.
The truth is that there is a tremendous amount of information about how kids really learn that real research is only just now beginning to tap. Almost all of those who pushed education fads for the past two decades – confidently assuring us that “research shows” their ideas worked – were mostly wrong. Those educators were citing unscientific, often totally nonsense, papers that could not prove anything.
We need to keep that carefully in mind as our new state/national standards package evolves and our teachers begin to try to figure out how best to teach those new standards. Developing both the standards and the curriculum to teach those standards will be much less scientific, and a lot more of a shot in the dark, than many in education realize, or want to admit.