Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"The brain we house was not designed to sit in a classroom but wander the plains hunting and gathering. Neither was it designed to read, he said: Homo sapiens has been around more than four thousand years, but has been reading and writing for only a thousand years or so. So it’s not surprising that educators have found success exploiting the natural features of the brain itself, such as the importance of repetition, focused attention and linking what is learned to actions."

Just found that among the many ways of learning, there are two: experience-expectant and experience-dependent. The expectant kind takes place when the brain encounters a relevant experience, ideally at an optimal stage called a “sensitive period”. This is a period at which a particular biological event is likely to occur. Vision, speech and sounds are often thought to have sensitive periods; so is language exposure. In fact, infants can spell about 600 sounds; but as they get to learn their mother tongue, most sounds die due to non-usage. This is why some neuroscientists have suggested that first and second language should be taught at the same time, early; so Telugu and English should begin when kids are 4-5 years old.

Experience-dependant learning, in contrast, do not happen during tight sensitive periods; examples are vocabulary acquisition and ability to see color. The wonderful thing is that this kind of learning is lifelong, over the lifespan of the brain.

Neuroscience may not provide solutions to many education challenges, but its findings can help give into learning.

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