Educators have been a bit late in applying the immense value of neuroscience, but it’s here in education right now, according to Dr Steve Miller, keynote speaker at the Educating with Neuroscience 2016 conference (ENS 2016) in Melbourne on Friday 26 August.
“It's here now, and if you haven't looked you may not have noticed it,” he says. “Here's the examples I give people:
- Pro athletes are doing neuroscience training to be better at being competitive athletes.
- The military in a dozen countries uses brain training to make their elite teams more consistently elite.
- Every hospital has a neuroscience team that uses neuroscience technologies in neurology to help assess things.
- Companies around the world, if you look at the Fortune top 100 companies, half of them have done a neuroscience study to see what they should be doing to make something more effective, or improve decision making, or to make decision making work among their consumers.
The place where it's last, to be honest, is in the learning space, in education.”
Expert and experienced speakers at ENS 2016 Conference
At the ENS 2016 conference Dr Miller will be joined by:
- Dr Martha Burns, Joint Appointment Professor at Northwestern University
- Education consultant Simon Brooks who is associated with Harvard University’s Project Zero
- Educators from Australia and New Zealand who have implemented neuroscience in their schools
They will be presenting the latest in educational neuroscience research and applications.
Dr Miller and Dr Burns are both renowned for their work in neuroscience over the last few decades, and have contributed directly to the development of neuroscience based solutions and resources that have been helping teachers and learners around the world.
Listen to Colin Klupiec, Host of the ENS 2016 Conference, discussing Educational Neuroscience with some of the speakers in this Podcast:
Educational neuroscience and pressures in education
All Australia and New Zealand educators deserve access to this important information, especially at this time when education is about to undergo potentially disruptive changes.
Colin Klupiec, the conference host, educator and the voice of The Learning Capacity Podcast puts educational neuroscience and the pressures in education into perspective in these comments:
“When it comes to school education these days, you don't have to look too far to realize that there's plenty of critique of current systems. There are strong movements for reform and a reimagining of what school can be like, and it seems like almost everyone has an opinion.
After all, everyone went to school in some capacity or another. The good part about all this is that the conversation is coming back to the importance of learning, how we understand learning, and how we can improve student learning.
Over the last 30 years or so, emerging work from neuroscience has been helping us understand the brain much better. We can now know the living brain and not just the brain in the jar. We know that it's plastic. It can change, it can reorganize, it can make new connections, and all this can happen right throughout our lives and not just in the early years.
So, what does this mean for education? Have we sold ourselves short, thinking that it's all just about teacher-driven content? Have we gone too far the other way, suggesting that kids can just work stuff out if teachers talk less and allow the students to be more self-directed?
Is the concept of educational neuroscience just another fad or the latest topic for teachers to endure at professional development meetings?
Not a fad, educational neuroscience is real
Educational neuroscience is a real discipline with lots of useful research emerging said Dr Martha Burns in a discussion with Colin Klupiec in an interview on The Learning Capacity Podcast.
She said, “Actually, it is a new branch of neuroscience. Neuroscience, I should say, is a relatively new discipline. Neuroscience, as a discipline, emerged around 1995, 1990 to 1995. Before that, we had groups of people who studied the brain. We had neurologists who studied illnesses of the brain. We had neuropsychologists who studied the mind and emotions.”
“But by around the middle of 1990s, we had this emerging umbrella field called neuroscience that was actually looking at how the brain works and looking at how the normal brain or typical brain works. And a branch of that, which has emerged in about the last three or four years, is educational neuroscience.”
“So, for a while there, it was something called cognitive neuroscience. There was something called systems neuroscience. And they were all looking at the brain from different perspectives, but this new educational neuroscience discipline that's emerged is now a graduate program in many universities, at least here in the United States.”
“So, if you go online and look at educational neuroscience programs, you'll see that almost all of them started after about 2010, 2011, 2012. Universities would say, ‘We have just initiated a new doctoral program in educational neuroscience.’ So, it is a formal discipline. It does exist, it does have its own body of research, but it is brand new.”
Practical application of educational neuroscience
Techniques and tools from educational neuroscience are being applied around the world and in Australian and New Zealand schools.
One of the speakers at ENS 2016 is Bruce Horman, Head of Junior School in Victoria. His school has been using a neuroscience program for the last four years. Here is just one of the examples he uses of how successful it has been:
“I pulled in a couple of kids who just tried and tried and no matter what they did could only get themselves up to mid-range average. And then all of a sudden their parents were coming back to me and saying we've noticed a massive difference in our girl in the last two or three months since she has been doing the (neuroscience) program.”
The Educating with Neuroscience Conference 2016, hosted by LearnFast, will address big questions and provide practical insight for educators on how to use emerging knowledge of neuroscience to make student learning and teacher job satisfaction better.