Information Age Education Blog
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A Dialogue on Brain Science in Education
My colleague Bob Albrecht says that he appreciates my recent free book on Brain Science for Educators and Parents (Moursund, August, 2015). However, he notes the book would be strengthened by the addition of practical, down-to-earth brain science content that teachers can teach to students and/or use at various grade levels and in various disciplines.
He is certainly correct. I don’t know what typical first graders know about their brains. Nor do I know what typical first grade teachers know about the brains of first graders and what they want first graders to know about their own brains. Furthermore, there appears to be little published literature on effective uses of brain science in the teaching and learning of the various disciplines taught at PreK-12 grade levels. For example, do teachers of social studies need and use the same brain science knowledge as teachers of mathematics or music?
In my writings, I frequently raise the topic of human brains versus computer brains. In teaching and learning, what can/should we be doing to make effective use of a combination of brains of human learners and teachers in conjunction with the “brain-like” capabilities of computers? I find it easy to make broad suggestions, but I lack the specific knowledge and experience to provide practical, down-to-earth recommendations to educators and parents.
Somewhat similarly, I have read and written about cognitive development, IQ, learning disabilities, and so on. But, I have had no experience in using my knowledge in teaching at the various precollege levels.
Therefore, I would like to use Information Age Education as a vehicle through which my readers will share their “practical, useful” knowledge about brain science as it applies to teaching and learning at the various grade levels and in the various disciplines.
What You and I Can Do
If you happen to come across good material that is available free on the Web, please share it with others and me. A link and a brief summary would make an excellent addition to our discussion.
I will organize the material I receive into a coherent collection, and use the material to start an IAE-pedia Web page. If you provide information that you want attributed to you, I will gladly do so. If you prefer to remain anonymous, I will use your ideas but not identify you as a source. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.
- Share a story. For example, you may share a “fun” story about a child’s insights into his/her brain.
- Share a good article or book.
- If you are a teacher of teachers, create an assignment that asks your students to make a significant contribution. For example, the assignment might involve interviewing students or running a small discussion group of students providing their insights into their own brains.
- Share a brain science lesson you have used with students.
As another way to help the Comments aspect of this project get started, I have used a recent email message from Bob Albrecht as a comment to this IAE Blog entry.
Moursund, D. (August, 2015). Brain science. Available on the Web at http://iae-pedia.org/Brain_Science. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/271-brain-science-for-educators-and-parents-1/file.html and the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/270-brain-science-for-educators-and-parents/file.html.
Moursund, D. (August, 2015). Brain science videos. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/24/2015 from http://iae-pedia.org/Brain_Science#Videos_for_Brain_Science_for_Educators_and_Parents.
Moursund, D. (May, 2015.) Two brains are better than one. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/24/20q5 from http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One.
Please develop a tutorial to accompany the book.
I remain a pest until you tell me that you will not write a brain science tutorial for educators and parents, the first such tutorial on the Internet.
Even then, I might buzz about because there is
no brain science for educators tutorial on the Internet
no brain science for teachers tutorial on the Internet
no Brain science for parents tutorial on the Internet
no brain science for parents tutorial on the Internet
If I search for 'brain science for educators tutorials', I find your eBook, which is not a tutorial up top (hooray!), but no tutorials.
Alas, no tutorials. No slow, easy, hand-holding way for educators, teachers, parents, me, et al to learn about brain science in the context of our interests.
What say you use 'brain science educators tutorials' as a search key and point me to tutorials that I can use to learn brain science for educators.
What say you use 'brain science parents tutorials' as a search key and point me to tutorials that I can use to learn brain science for parents.
I think you will find none.
Aha! A hole in the Internet that begs being filled by . . . YOU.
A splendid opportunity for YOU to write the first Internet tutorial to help educators and parents learn about brain science relevant and useful to
Teachers: Themselves and their students
Parents: Themselves and their children
Begin with Brain Science for Educators and Parents.
Add a few questions and answers, some multiple guess, some true/false.
Send to me. I will try to answer questions based on reading what you said.
I will suggest this and that from my paucity of knowledge about brain science.
Soon we have Brain Science for Educators and Parents Tutorial #1
Then up, up, and away. Tutorial #2, Tutorial #3, et cetera, et cetera.
Soon you will become known as the Brain Science Man for Educators and Parent.
This is a very special audience. An audience you know, but others do not know.
Thanks to your brain science for educators and parents tutorials, more educators and parents will understand brain science enough to use it with their children and students.
Children are born with an innate ability to learn natural language that includes words for counting. That is, they have some innate number sense. Some young children make much more progress in developing their number sense than others. Thus, Kindergarten and first grade teachers face students with widely varying levels of number sense.
The following article by Bryant Street, a PK-8 math coach, provides instruction to parents and others who want to work with three to five year old children to improve their number sense.
Street B. (8/1/2015). Four ways parents can help preschoolers grasp early math concepts. Education Lab. Retrieved 8/28/2015 from http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/guest-four-ways-parents-can-help-preschoolers-grasp-early-math-concepts/.
Here is an example from Steet’s article:
Count with your child. When my children were toddlers, we took every opportunity to count together. While walking in the neighborhood, we would count how many dogs we saw, how many yellow flowers, how many red cars, how many trucks. How many wheels are on the car? On the truck? How many petals on the flower? How many legs on the dog? Answering “How many” questions is an important goal for kindergarteners.
In an recent email message to Bob Albrecht I (Dave Moursund) suggested he was overly fixating on tutorials and that there were also other good ways to learn. Here is his response.
About my "tutorial fixation." I entered 'fixation' as a search key and got:
1. an obsessive interest or feeling about someone or something.
Yeah! Right on! My tutorial fixation is an obsessive interest about things that help learners learn and teachers teach -- tutorials.
2. the action of making something firm or stable.
Loverly! Tutorials help learners become firm and stable in their knowledge about a subject. Tutorials are wonderful tools that teachers can use to help learners learn. The better the tutorial, the more helpful it is for the learner and the teacher.
Thanks! I love my tutorial fixation. I think that tutorials, in many non-passive forms, are the best ways to learn and teach.
I believe that essays are great ways for people at the same knowledge-maturity level to communicate at that level. Great ways to exchange information among peers and near-peers, like articles in professional journals.
I believe that tutorials are much much much better than essays as ways for most learners to learn, and helping teachers to teach.
Reading an essay about brain science is a passive way to learn. Doesn't work for me or -- I think -- most people. Works well for your brain-science peers -- you will get lots of hits.
Attending lectures is a passive way to learn. In elhi and college, I did not learn much from lectures and frequently skipped them. Fortunately, I was very good at digging information out of textbooks by doing all the exercises and problems. I got lots of As a long time ago by answering questions in textbooks, working exercises (hundreds, thousands), but never by reading essays.
Thereafter in my life, I learned by solving many thousands of math, physics, astronomy, and other problems every year.
Watching TV is a passive way to learn, but not for me. When I watch videos that claim to teach, I grumble and imagine how to improve the video.
People who learn about brain science from your eBooks are people who learn well from essays. Perhaps people who already know a lot of brain science. Alas, I am not one.
Again I say: There many people like me (a big majority?) who do not learn much from essays, lectures, TV, and other passive ways of presenting. I think we are many millions. Most?
We are the people who learn by interacting, by doing, by answering questions, by solving problems, et cetera, et cetera. We are the multitude.
[[Comment from Dave Moursund. Aha! That is a point we fully agree on. People learn by doing and by making use of what they are learning. I think my basic issue is whether we can help students make a transition to learning by reading content in the way that most people write it. Most published writing and person to person communication is not written in a tutorial mode. Individual one-on-one tutoring has some of the characteristics of a tutorial,. Bob Albrecht and I certainly agree on such tutoring as a very valuable aid to learning. Some of the individualization and immediate feedback of a tutorial is now being captured in high quality computer-assisted learning materials. ]]
I spend much time reading novels, 200+ a year for decades. I remember little each novel. The good news: I can read the same novels a year later and they are like new, because I have forgotten the story.
In decades of tutoring hundreds of students, I have learned that math word problems are the most difficult things for them to solve -- mostly because they cannot extract relative information from text. When I highlight the information (slowly, one item at a time), they get it. They will not learn by reading essays.
We who do not learn by passive essays, books, blogs, TV, et cetera, et cetera, are many, VERY MANY.] (Most?)
We who are fixated on tutorials as our best way to learn want you to write the first tutorials about Brain Science for Educators and Parents so that we and many others (a vast majority no longer silent?) can learn tutorially about Brain Science for Educators and Parents.
What say? In one day of the many days of your life, you can write a few tutorial pages and send it to me. ONE DAY of your long life to do something different than you have done before.
Bob & George
and I learn from what I read. Hardly any of what I read could be considered to be tutorial in nature.
So, here are a couple of questions for you to ponder.
1. Do some disciplines better lend themselves to teaching via tutorials than others?
2. Do some people learn better from tutorials than others?
Consider the art of story telling, and the “good old days” in which humans sat around a camp fire at night and told stories. Do you consider their stories and the campfire setting a type of tutorial? Or, is it better described as a sage on the stage, and not a particularly good method of teaching.
What research evidence do we have that a tutorial is a better way of teaching/learning than other approaches? While a story might be considered to be a type of tutorial, it is far removed (I think) from what you have in mind.
Is just plain reading of an article actually a tutorial experience? The reader makes decisions on what to learn and how to tell if s/he is learning it.
Hmm. How does one get to be a good football player?
I think the issue is what do you want a student to learn how to do, and how do you want the student to demonstrate the knowledge and skill.
Let’s continue the dialogue.