Nothing Has Changed in 30 Years

“Nothing has changed in education in 30 years.”

I sat back stunned.  Yep, she said it. “Nothing has changed in education in 30 years.”

I think education changed in the 30 seconds it took for her to say that to me. 

 

*  Fueled by Curiosity

      My son had just spent 3 years at a school full of teachers that were fueled by curiosity.  If they struggled to successfully teach a child, they turned to research.   They turned to publications, scientist, educators, artists, pediatricians, mental heath professionals, musicians, researchers, professors, rocks recently turned over.  I was stunned at the lack of curiosity I now faced in a different school setting.  This teacher had taught the same way for 30 years. It wasn’t working for my son and I doubt it was working for any other student.  She did not have 30 years experience. She had 1 years experience 30 times.  If you are teaching the same way you did 30 years ago, you aren’t teaching.

*  So where is the information to help you?  Neuroscience. 

Neuroscientists devote themselves to exploring how the brain learns, how we recruit our different mental capacities to solve problems, how we compensate for our weaknesses, and how we capitalize on our strengths.   “Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections.”  http://www.learner.org/courses/neuroscience/text/text.html?dis=U&num=00&sec=04

Yes, you are in the trenches.  You plan, strategize and adapt at a drop of the hat as Paul body slams yet again, as Brad builds an intricate pattern yet can’t rhyme, as Jennifer repeats a song exactly after one hearing but can’t hold a pencil.  You watch the behavioral ebbs and flows of the classroom from minute to minute, from day to day, from month to month.  You create a community with 12 little 3 year olds with the artistic touches Pollock would admire.

 *  But there is no need to be a disciplinary island.

 How children learn is not the sole property of educators.  Pulling in other disciplines into your classroom will make you a more effective teacher. 

Paul B. Yellin, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine and director of the Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education,  “talks about the need for an equal partnership among neuroscientists, teachers, and clinicians. His goal is to create a language and vocabulary that enable everyone to discuss how different brains work differently.” “Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections.  http://www.learner.org/courses/neuroscience/text/text.html?dis=U&num=00&sec=04.  Yellin seeks to “help teachers understand that there is information out there to help teachers to understand the children in the classroom and there is information out there to help the teacher be successful in the classroom.”

 *  Education really is where neuroscience meets the road.

  What you do in the classroom should be grounded in science.  How you approach developmental stages and how you plan to help each child’s journey in their development. You see the complexity of the classroom and the neuroscientist sees the complexity of the brain.  Never in the history of education has it been easier to lay hands on such research and implement it in your classroom. 

 *  Reaching into the neuroscience field is not a fad of education.

 I am not talking about the latest behavioral gimmick or the newest workshop to fulfill your continuing education hours.  I am speaking of research that explores how the brain works.  The study of the brain and how it learns will always be part of education.  Understanding how each child learns will only empower you in your profession.  I am talking about looking to those leaders in research that are readily available to you. The University of Chicago’s Levine Lab, The New York University School of Medicine and director of the Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education, the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at Harvard University Graduate School of Education are just the tip of the iceberg. 

 Do the research, be curious, be a student of all disciplines.  You just might see that things have changed in education in the last 30 years…probably in the last 30 seconds.