How neuroscience can help teachers?

In this brief article we are going to answer the question ‘’How neuroscience can help teachers?’’ In this article we will discover how neuroscience is a tool for education, we will detail its main contributions and importance.

How neuroscience can help teachers?

Neuroscience allows us to study how the brain learns and apply it to day-to-day education to improve the way the teaching-learning process is approached.

Neuroscience studies the brain, key in memory, retentive, communication processes… This scientific field is in full swing since we don’t know our entire brain in depth. 

But it’s possible to know how the brain can learn, remember or forget information. And knowing this is key to learning about the process of teaching, studying, memorizing…

The teaching world, for the most part, has also noticed this: how the brain influences the way students learn. That is why, thanks to the advances in the knowledge of the functioning of the brain and its processes, a concept has emerged that tries to apply the knowledge about how the brain learns and functions in the educational field.

This is what we call educational neuroscience or neuroeducation.

Neuroscience and education

Education, as is known, involves two fundamental actions: teaching and that of learning. Scientific research on human behavior and brain function provide valuable information about how humans teach and learn that can be useful for educational theories and practices.

Neurosciences can make important contributions to knowledge to facilitate the understanding of key cognitive processes for teaching-learning, such as memory, attention, language, literacy, executive functions, decision-making, creativity and emotion, etc.

Modern neurosciences are also important for understanding risky learning situations (eg, dyslexia and dyscalculia) and thus offer a benefit to many, many children.

The methodology used in the field of human cognitive neurosciences and experimental psychology also offers the possibility of empirically testing strategies and interventions that can be implemented in the area of education, such as, for example, the monitoring and comparison of different teaching and learning modalities.

However, although the potential of neuroscience as a tool to improve education can be emphasized, the transition from the laboratory to the classroom is not easy.

How to improve the teaching-learning process, according to Neuroscience

  1. Emotion’s role

Emotion has been scientifically proven to be the engine of learning

Knowledge is not achieved by memorizing, nor by repeating it over and over, but by doing, experimenting and, above all, getting excited. Therefore, teachers must excite their students in their classes and arouse their attention and curiosity, since without them there is no learning.

An example would be that teachers interrupt their intervention in class every 15 minutes with emotional anecdotes, riddles, audiovisual materials, games, etc. that attract the attention of the students.

Attention is a very limited resource that is essential for learning to take place, so it can be useful to divide the time dedicated to class into blocks with the respective stops. In practice, we want the student’s level of activation to be adequate. 

The extremes are harmful, both the defect (asleep) and the excess (anxious or overstimulated).

The students and their interests must be taken into account. Promote their autonomy in learning, that their work makes sense but, above all, that they are aware and recognize it. You have to transfer and establish the premise of moving to learn.

Based on this premise, it’s advisable to generate positive emotional climates in educational environments, where both teachers and students assume errors naturally, cooperate with each other and actively participate in the entire learning process.

  1. Make use of the arts to promote cognitive processes

Teachers must recognize possible learning activators, from different ways such as music, plastic arts, performing arts, chess, theatre… recognized as favoring cognitive, social, and moral processes.

According to some research that analyzes the benefits of art education in students, if artistic activities are integrated into the teaching of other subjects, be it chemistry, language, mathematics or science, students improve their long-term memory. 

Likewise, artistic activities increase emotions and promote creative thinking, which in turn favors learning.

  1. Playing

The ability to play is strongly related to cognitive development and social and emotional well-being. 

Play in children is a basic tool for the development of symbolic function. Furthermore, it has been shown to be a predictor of language skills, self-regulation, and cognitive flexibility.

The quality of the imagination and fantasy of play in childhood is associated with measures of creativity throughout life.

On the other hand, having adequate time and spaces for parents to play with their children favors the bond of attachment. And this, in turn, contributes to making them more emotionally safe.

  1. Exercise to learn

Physical exercise benefits the ability to learn through a variety of direct and indirect mechanisms such as increased regulation of neurotrophic factors (which favor the survival of neurons) and neurogenesis (generation of new neurons) in the hippocampus (area key brain in memory formation).

Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, reduces stress and anxiety, situations that affect cognitive performance.

  1. Do we learn the same children, adolescents and adults?

Surely anyone would answer no to this question.

However, in the classroom, the way of teaching is often the same or very similar.

Neuroscience helps us to know how the brain matures in different age groups, a fact that gives us information about how we learn and which teaching-learning processes are most effective.

The way of learning of an adult, a teenager or a child is not the same, so the methodologies to be used should not be identical either.

Also, in this sense, neuroscience helps unmask some mysteries about the functioning of the adolescent brain. And these, let’s face it, never come again to deal with a classroom full of teenagers brimming with hormones and emotional charge.

Benefits of neuroscience in the educational environment

Based on scientific evidence, neuroscience brings multiple benefits in the classroom, whatever the age of the students:

  • It helps to promote the inclusion of students in their environment: with their classmates and teachers, thus improving the absorption of knowledge, since it respects the different learning rhythms.
  • It promotes the social and emotional development of children or adolescents.
  • Increases the level of attention, as well as the development of activities and active participation in the classrooms.
  • Supports a space for learning and an environment that favors the cognitive processes of students.
  • It promotes the well-being and mental and physical health of all students and the educational community.
  • It will improve the work of teachers, as it will increase their ability to find signs of irregularities in the development of their students.

So, neuroscience can help you teach and learn better?

From the moment we are born, we spend it learning. Thus, we process information and build “mental schemes” of the world to be able to reflect, make decisions and act.

Learning is so important and so central in life that it’s, therefore, essential to try to understand what it’s, how it occurs and how processes can be improved, individually and socially.

Thanks to the advance of science, today we know that, in its development, our brain is sculpting, that is, it changes both its structure and its functioning. Thus, neural connections are modified throughout life as a product of learning and interaction with the environment that surrounds us.

This capacity of the brain, called “brain plasticity“, shows that the knowledge and skills we acquire are not static, but are constantly changing. Bottom line: learning is good for the brain.

Neuroscience can help you to teach better 

Applying the knowledge of neuroscience to education is to promote that teachers know how the brain works and how different processes intervene in learning, in order to make it more efficient and optimal for students.

For example, it has been shown that knowledge is not achieved by memorizing a lesson or repeating it over and over again. Knowledge is achieved thanks to experimentation and the emotion that these provoke in students.

Emotions, learning, and memory are closely related. That is why for a learning environment to be optimal it must lead the learner to explore, think and express their ideas.

Educational neuroscience, in short, can help teachers understand how their students learn, how there is a relationship between emotions and thoughts, and thus be able to teach more effectively.

Neuroscience: a teaching tool

Applying this neuroscience knowledge to the classroom is what is called neurodidactics. It serves for the development and application of new methodologies that optimize learning in the classroom.

After all, the brain is the absolute protagonist in the learning process. Understanding how our brain faces this challenge, how it works when we try to learn something new and how it integrates and relates what we have learned with the rest of the teachings, is one of the tasks of neuroeducation.

If you’re a teacher, imagine a classroom where all your students could learn faster and better, effortlessly retain and understand complex concepts, and make the most of all subjects.

Wouldn’t it be a dream? Thanks to neuroscience and neuroeducation, we are beginning to understand the brain a little better and techniques and protocols are beginning to be applied that bring that goal a little closer.

A context where safety and positivity predominate, there is no competitive climate and is as flexible as possible, to adapt to the neural processes of all students, can generate greater cases of educational “success”.

If you are a teaching professional or, simply, you are interested in knowing how our brain behaves when it learns, you may want to know more about this interesting field. Studying a will allow you to keep up to date with the most recent advances and will give you an ideal overview to improve the teaching-learning processes in the classroom.

FAQS: How neuroscience can help teachers?

How is neuroscience used in education?

Educational Neuroscience helps us to know how the brain works and how neurobiological processes intervene in learning, to make it more efficient and optimal.

Does neuroscience inform education?

neuroscience can provide an understanding of mechanisms of learning and the biological factors that influence them. In turn, neuroscience will influence psychological theories that can then translate into educational tools.

How teachers can improve their teaching?

Teaching and Preparation
Clear explanation
Punctuality
Use of technology
Empathy
Encourage participation
Upgrade
Emotionally safe classroom

What teachers should know about the brain?

What educators should know about the brain

The brain is a social organ.
Early learning is powerful.
Conscious awareness and unconscious processing occur at different speeds.
The mind, brain and body are connected.
The brain needs multiple-channel processing for deeper learning to occur.

What does neuroscience mean?

Neuroscience is the set of scientific disciplines that study the nervous system, in order to approach the understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the control of nervous reactions and the behavior of the brain.

In this brief article we answered the question ‘’How neuroscience can help teachers?’’ we discovered how neuroscience is a tool for education, we detailed its main contributions and importance.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!

References

Hardiman, M., Rinne, L., Gregory, E., & Yarmolinskaya, J. (2012). Neuroethics, neuroeducation, and classroom teaching: Where the brain sciences meet pedagogy. Neuroethics, 5(2), 135-143.

Fischer, K. W., Goswami, U., Geake, J., & Task Force on the Future of Educational Neuroscience. (2010). The future of educational neuroscience. Mind, Brain, and Education, 4(2), 68-80.

Mareschal, D., Butterworth, B., & Tolmie, A. (Eds.). (2013). Educational neuroscience. John Wiley & Sons.

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