Here is information about a global brain science conference that caught my attention:
Hyldgård, P. (6/30/2016). What are the hottest trends in neuroscience? ScienceNordic. Retrieved 6/30/2016 from http://sciencenordic.com/what-are-hottest-trends-neuroscience.
Quoting from the article:
What does the latest research tell us about depression, our sexual behaviour while we sleep, infections and schizophrenia, and how exercise helps children learn?
We will be getting answers to these questions and more from some of the 6,000 brain scientists who are headed to Copenhagen, Denmark, this weekend for Europe’s largest brain science conference, the ‘FENS Forum of Neuroscience.’ [Bold added for emphasis.]
Over the past couple of decades the discipline of brain science (cognitive neuroscience) has grown exponentially. Can you imagine 6,000 researchers traveling to Denmark for a conference on neuroscience?
And, take a look at some of the topics they are addressing.
• Stay flexible: how we learn and remember.
• Hooked and hijacked! My brain is on drugs!
• Illuminating brain changes in dementia.
• Future trends in neuroscience.
I am amazed by the intense worldwide research sharing and collaboration occurring today in the sciences and medicine. For example, consider the worldwide response to Ebola, and the current efforts to develop a vaccine for Zika. Disease and its prevention are worldwide issues that lend themselves to concentrated research and development efforts, followed by worldwide implementation of the results.
We have other worldwide problems such as: poverty and hunger; global warming and cimate change; sustainability; shortage of fresh water; air and water pollution; over population; poor or no access to electricity, and Internet connectivity and good sanitation; terrorism and war; and so on. None of these lend themselves to “quick fixes” that can be developed through research and then implemented with relative ease throughout the world. All depend on a combination of research and on very wide scale cooperative implementation efforts. The latter depends on the past, present, and future education of the people of the world.
At the current time, the precollege educational systems of the United States are focusing on improving student performance on state, national, and international assessments, especially in Language Arts, Math, and Science. There seems to be an underlying assumption that if we just do better at teaching the basics in education, this will mean that students are receiving a good education. I believe that is far from being true.
One of the consequences of this approach is that we have a great many influential people throughout the world who have little insight into national and global problems, and the national and global cooperative efforts needed to address them. Many of our leaders play politics rather than make use of an understanding of the science, technology, and human aspects of the real problems. Many voters and "ordinary" citizens lack the knowledge and skills to adequately intervene.
A good education has far more lofty goals than just preparing students to score well on state, national, and international tests. It helps students to understand problems and problem solving at all levels, from individual to global. It helps students learn to be active participants in addressing such problems in their own lives as well is in their state, nation, and world.
What You Can Do
Each discipline of study addresses the problems and the achievements in a particular area. However, most of the problems facing individual people and the world involve groups of people and are interdisciplinary. I am reminded of the quote:
“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” (Thomas H. Huxley; English writer; 1825–1895.)
In essence, Thomas Huxley’s recommendation is that a good education consists of gaining a great breadth of knowledge combined with a specialization in which one achieves far more knowledge and skills than the average person. Both can be lifelong endeavors, starting in one’s earliest childhood and continuing throughout life.
To improve breadth of education, I strongly recommend the TED Talks (TED Talks, 2016 ). If you have or work with adolescent or older children, here is something to try. Select a TED Talk that you think is important, view it together with one or more such children, and discuss it. You might think of this as the “Sitting around a campfire and story telling” of our forefathers. Here a world-class expert does the story telling, and the listeners chat with each other about what they are viewing.
As you interact with learners of all ages, help them to understand Huxley’s recommendation and the need for all of us to gain the knowledge and skills to effectively address the problems that we, others, and the world are facing.
References and Resources
Moursund, D. (2016). Brain Science for Educators and Parents. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 6/30/2016 from http://iae-pedia.org/Brain_Science.
Moursund, D. (2016). Free educational videos. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 6/30/2016 from http://iae-pedia.org/Free_Educational_Videos.
Moursund, D. (2016). Free open source and open content educational materials. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 6/30/3016 from http://iae-pedia.org/Free_Open_Source_and_Open_Content_Educational_Materials.
Moursund, D. (5/30/2016). Community project for improving science education. IAE Blog. Retrieved 6/30/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/community-project-for-improving-science-education.html.
Moursund, D. (3/10/2016). Skill knows no gender. IAE Blog. Retrieved 6/30/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/skill-knows-no-gender.html.
Moursund, D. (2/12/2015). Improving worldwide quality of life. IAE Blog. Retrieved 6/30/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/improving-worldwide-quality-of-life.html.
TED Talks (2016). TED: Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved 6/30/2016 from https://www.ted.com/talks.