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Archive for the ‘neuropaedagogics’ Category

brain_child_by_temabina.jpgIt’s really a slow digestion period, getting back from SfN in Atlanta. Other than an aching back and jet-lag the conference experience has been tremendous. But at the same time it was rather confusing. Those talks and lectures that I expected to be good turned out to be boring or far too complex (or ill presented) to comprehend. Other talks — IMO wildcards relative to my own area — were tremendously informative.

It strikes me that this year didn’t have one or more major themes that were dominating the discussion and themes as such. This very much as we’ve seen in previous conferences, and at other conferences, where topics such as e.g. stem cell research (SfN) or brain development or imaging genetics (Human Brain Mapping) was on everybody’s lips. So while I sit here back home and reflect on some highlights — other than those very technical aspects that I myself found interesting — a few come to mind.

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Ever heard about evidence-based medicine? Now we should all start talking about evidence-based teaching (or paedagogics), too. Usha Goswami has a nice article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience about the way that (neuro-)science should be communicated to teachers, who again should implement these ideas in schools. I'm all in for it, although I think we should be careful about saying too much and feel too confident that our word may come through the way we want it to. there are a lot of flaky uses of science terms in software, teaching applications and so forth, to feel confident that we may do well enough to bring the correct information to the fore. As Goswami also writes in his paper, much of the current science-based talks are "reality testers" that ultimately point out how that other approaches are plain wrong. This may very well backfire. As he writes:

(…) At the Cambridge conference, prominent neuroscientists working in areas such as literacy, numeracy, IQ, learning, social cognition and ADHD spoke directly to teachers about the scientific evidence being gathered in scientists' laboratories. The teachers were amazed by how little was known. Although there was enthusiasm for and appreciation of getting first-hand information, this was coupled with frustration at hearing that many of the brain-based programmes currently in schools had no scientific basis. The frustration arose because the neuroscientists were not telling the teachers 'what works instead'. One delegate said that the conference "Left teachers feeling [that] they had lots stripped away from them and nothing put in [its] place". Another commented that "Class teachers will take on new initiatives if they are sold on the benefits for the children. Ultimately this is where brains live!".

-Thomas

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