Over the past few blogs, I have shared with you what the newest studies of the brain reveal and how we can utilize this research to design better strategies in the classroom which will ensure superior results while positively enhancing cognition and brain function. Eric Jensen’s strategies and applications are well-supported by brain research and deserving of consideration for creating new methodologies in our educational system. But these methodologies run counter to our current educational framework which is built around routine assessing and teaching to guarantee test preparedness in the spring. And there-in lies the rub…
How would teachers, who already feel there isn’t enough time to prepare students for state achievement tests, give up valuable teaching time to provide 30 to 60 minutes a day for physical activity as well as 30 to 60 minutes a day, three to five times a week for students to be engaged in art, dance, theater, etc.? And, in our race to cover and achieve mastery of numerous standards, how do we cover everything that we must cover if we must take constant breaks, every 4 to 8 minutes if we are teaching complex content for which our children have limited prior knowledge or every 8 to 15 minutes for less complex content for which they have greater prior knowledge? What content do we sacrifice teaching in order to teach our students emotional states as life skills which they should have been taught at home? When will those of us who have inclusion or co-taught classrooms set aside time each hour to do skill-building work with our special education students 3 to 5 days a week, to help them make more progress?
Don’t misunderstand me; I am all for integrating brain research into my classroom, in fact, I would welcome it because it would be the first methodology which is based on scientific research rather than what people, often unaffiliated with education, think is the way to properly educate students. Unfortunately, our hands are tied due to our current misguided educational philosophy which believes that constant testing of students is the way to hammer home knowledge and allow our students to compete in a global economy. And I am curious to see how much more we will be impacted with our new national standards with their integral component of on-line assessments. Until there is a radical shift in educational philosophy, information like this on how our brains grow and develop is just interesting reading, because there is no practical way of applying it in our current situation.
So, what’s the answer? Our current paradigm is not going to change unless the Eric Jensens and Kathie Nunleys of the world, who have studied the brain and understand how it works and how that valuable information can positively impact teaching strategies, vocally and persistently lobby those in government from President Obama to the Department of Education in an effort to recreate our educational system based on brain research rather than business research.
Now that would be an educational reform I would certainly rally around! What about you?