Information Age Education Blog
Please answer to yourself the following two questions:
1. Are you satisfied with your current knowledge of the capabilities, limitations, and functioning of your brain?
2. As a teacher and/or parent, you encounter many children. Are you satisfied with their current knowledge of the capabilities, limitations, and functioning of their brains?
I have recently written a book, Brain Science for Educators and Parents. It is available free on the Web at http://iae-pedia.org/Brain_Science. If you are not satisfied with your current brain science knowledge, I believe you will benefit by reading this book. It is designed to help improve our educational system by improving the education of preservice teachers, inservice teachers, and parents.
Chapter 1 of the 10-chapter Book
To give you a flavor of this book, here is a list of the sections in the first chapter:
• History of Brain Study. (At one time, people thought that a person’s heart was the seat of their intelligence.)
• Brain Science. (Modern, computerized equipment allows users to peer inside a working brain.)
• Consciousness and Self-awareness. (Consciousness is one of the most challenging aspects of a human brain.)
• Mythologies about the Human Brain. (Most of have “learned” information about the human brain that is just plain wrong.)
• You and Your Students. (Each chapter includes activities that can be done in the classroom or at home.)
• References and Resources for Chapter. (The book contains a very large number of links to free resources, including about 50 videos available on the Web.)
Some Tidbits from the Book
Humans have long had an interest in the workings of their brains. We now have the technology to begin to understand the complexity of a human brain. Quoting from the book:
Your brain contains approximately 87 billion neurons, having an average of 7,000 dendrites apiece. Most people find these large numbers incomprehensible. The number of neurons you have is well over ten times the number of humans on earth. The number of dendrites you have is well over 70,000 times the number of people on earth.
No two brains (even those of identical twins raised together) are identical. Indeed, there are huge differences. We have gradually come to understand the need for a substantial increase in individualization in education to meet the widely varying needs of students.
We have a growing understanding of brain disorders such as autism, dyslexia (a reading problem) and dyscalculia (a math problem). We understand some of the mechanisms in addictions, and some of the ways in which brain poisons such as lead, mercury, and phthalates affect IQ, learning, and memory.
Oh, oh, perhaps you are not familiar with phthalates? Here is a bit of information quoted from the book:
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers. Some phthalates are used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials. They are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes).
Phthalates are used widely in polyvinyl chloride plastics, which are used to make products such as plastic packaging film and sheets, garden hoses, inflatable toys, blood-storage containers, medical tubing, and some children's toys.
Children of mothers exposed during pregnancy to the highest 25 percent of concentrations of DnBP and DiBP had IQs 6.6 and 7.6 points lower, respectively, than children of mothers exposed to the lowest 25 percent of concentrations after controlling for factors like maternal IQ, maternal education, and quality of the home environment that are known to influence child IQ scores. The association was also seen for specific aspects of IQ, such as perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. [Bold added for emphasis.]
What about Computer Brains?
Here is one more question to ponder. If a computer can solve or greatly help in solving a type of problem or accomplishing a type of task that is important to people growing up in our society, what do we want children to learn about such uses of computers?
The physical and cognitive capabilities of robots, computers, and computerized machines are steadily growing. We need an educational system that helps students understand and build their own physical and capabilities, but also prepares them to work with the physical and cognitive capabilities of computer systems. Our growing understanding of the human brain and computer “brains” is outstripping our schools’ pace of progress in incorporating such knowledge and capabilities into curriculum content, teaching processes, and assessment.
What You Can Do
The children you interact with know a great deal about their brains. So, create situations in which you can learn from them about how they think, understand, learn, remember, and make use of what they are learning.
Pay particular attention to how they earn to use technology such as smart phones and computer games. Even without the aid of formal schooling, many children exceed the computer knowledge and skills of adults in these areas.
Suggested Readings from IAE
Lathrop, A. (6/24/2015). Note to a friend with children. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/7/2015 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/note-to-a-friend-with-children.html.
Moursund, D. (2015). Two brains are better than one. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/7/2015 from http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One.
Moursund, D. (4/19/2015). Preparing students for their futures. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/7/2015 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/preparing-students-for-their-futures.html.
Moursund, D. (3/5/2015). Education for the coming technological singularity. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/7/2015 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/education-for-the-coming-technological-singularity.html.
Moursund, D. & Sylwester, R. (4/10/2015). Education for students’ futures. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. PDF File - http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/269-education-for-students-futures-1.html. Microsoft Word File - http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/268-education-for-students-futures.html.