Education · Human-ities · Science · Theory

What Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Can Do for Teaching


Discipline and sub-disciplines in Mind, Brain, and Education Science. Source: Bramwell for Tokuhama-Espinosa

Evidence-Based Solutions for the Classroom

How do we learn best? What is individual human potential? How do we ensure that children live up to their promise as learners? These questions and others have been posed by philosophers as well neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators for as long as humans have pondered their own existence. Because MBE science moves educators closer to the answers than at any other time in history, it benefits teachers in their efficacy and learners in their ultimate success.

Great teachers have always “sensed” why their methods worked; thanks to brain imaging technology, it is now possible to substantiate many of these hunches with empirical scientific research. For example, good teachers may suspect that if they give their students just a little more time to respond to questions than normal when called upon, they might get better-quality answers. Since 1972 there has been empirical evidence that if teachers give students several seconds to reply to questions posed in class, rather than the normal single second, the probability of a quality reply increases.[1] Information about student response time is shared in some teacher training schools, but not all. Standards in MBE science ensure that information about the brain’s attention span and need for reflection time would be included in teacher training, for example.

The basic premise behind the use of standards in MBE science is that fundamental skills, such as reading and math, are extremely complex and require a variety of neural pathways and mental systems to work correctly. MBE science helps teachers understand why there are so many ways that things can go wrong, and it identifies the many ways to maximize the potential of all learners. This type of knowledge keeps educators from flippantly generalizing, “He has a problem with math,” and rather encourages them to decipher the true roots (e.g., number recognition, quantitative processing, formula structures, or some sub-skill in math). MBE science standards make teaching methods and diagnoses more precise. Through MBE, teachers have better diagnostic tools to help them more accurately understand their students’ strengths and weakness. These standards also prevent teachers from latching onto unsubstantiated claims and “neuromyths” and give them better tools for judging the quality of the information. Each individual has a different set of characteristics and is unique, though human patterns for the development of different skills sets, such as walking and talking, doing math or learning to read, do exist. One of the most satisfying elements of MBE science is having the tools to maximize the potential of each individual as he or she learns new skills.

The following was an excerpt from Mind, Brain, and Education Science: A comprehensive guide to the new brain-based teaching (W.W. Norton) a book based on over 4,500 studies and with contributions from the world’s leaders in MBE Science. Continue HERE

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