I recently heard Judy Willis (of “syn-naps” fame) speak at a conference. In her pre-teaching life, she was a neurologist and she brings her knowledge to the classroom and to her lectures. (See my recently published article in Teacher Magazine, “My Brilliant Second-Career”). Willis mentioned that she had just gotten back from Dubai where her charge was to teach new teaching program students about brain development and how it relates to education.
Questions she tackled with these candidates were:
How do children and adolescents learn?
What actually happens in the brain in order to hear and retain information?
What are proven strategies that help information to become embedded into long-term memory?
She went on to say that Dubai is training a teacher army from scratch and the way they’ve decided to start is by teaching all of their prospective educators about the brain first.
That’s right. Everybody is being armed with the knowledge of what success looks like neurologically.
Then, on a national level, educators will all get together to decide on what the students at each grade level need to learn (standards) and from there they will use brain research to develop strategies to teach those standards (lessons).
Let me reiterate that because it’s incredibly powerful as a philosophy and, I suspect, as a form of long-range planning for the future of their children: they are starting with brain research to help dictate how their troops of teachers should teach.
In our dream world here in this country, if we could start from scratch, what would our mythical start-up country begin with as a means to train teachers more efficiently?
My hand is up on Brain Research.