Do we (and teachers) need to learn neurology? Some book tips and a self-test!

It seems to me that everything neuro is at the peak of the hype cycle as described by Gartner:

It means that people tend to think everything neuro will solve our problems, and for sure this seems the case in education (check this UK based research). During the past week we had articles pleading for more courses of neurosciences for teachers, and people as Daniel Willingham pleading against.

And although the different posts seem as distant as can be, they actually agree on an important issue: we shouldn’t follow the many existing neuromyths that are fooling us in education. If you think you can recognize most of the neuromyths, do test your knowledge with this online test.

I have been reading 2 books during the past 2 weeks on the subject that I can recommend to everybody interested in effective teaching. The first one is by the forementioned Daniel Willingham, Why students don’t like school, the second is just released and is called Neuroscience in Education: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

In fact, everybody should read the introduction of the second book. They warn us that we’ll probably be fooled by the title, because what help is it to teachers to know where in the brain is happening what. It can be interesting to know what happens in the brain when it doesn’t know how to control it self, but how does it help us?

No, in fact both books put an emphasis on cognitive research and on stuff that actually works inside the class room. Some of the things you’ll read will seem very recognizable, Willingham describes in his first chapter the zone of proximal development without actually mentioning it, sometimes things will be more painfull to read for some people. Skills versus factual knowledge is again declared an un usable distinction, because for being critical you actually need a lot of factual knowledge, not on the internet, but in the back of your own mind.

If you didn’t know what to read coming summer, Willingham is releasing a new book about when to trust experts in science, but these 2 books will already be a fine starting point. Meanwhile I’ll be trying to debunk (or sometimes confirm) some myths on education, GenY,… and try to share other interesting stuff on this blog.

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