Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Upgrading education and health with the brain in mind

speakerHeads up: these are some of my upcom­ing talks, start­ing tomor­row with a brief insight blast on Upgrad­ing edu­ca­tion and health with the brain in mind at the World Eco­nomic Forum on Latin Amer­ica. If you’re a Sharp­Brains friend and speak­ing at/ attend­ing any, please let me know so we can connect.

Education for Mental Fitness: “A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond”

Kudos to Patri­cia Cohen for one of the best arti­cles I have read in The New York Times in a long time: A Sharper Mind, Mid­dle Age and Beyond, by Patri­cia Cohen. These are a few quotes — please do read the arti­cle in full, it is worth it.

  • Some peo­ple are much bet­ter than their peers at delay­ing age-related declines in mem­ory and cal­cu­lat­ing speed. What researchers want to know is why. Why does your 70-year-old neigh­bor score half her age on a mem­ory test, while you, at 40, have the mem­ory of a senior cit­i­zen? Read the rest of this entry »

Who Says This is The Classroom of the Future?

The New York Times has recently pub­lished sev­eral very good and seem­ingly unre­lated articles…let’s try and con­nect some dots. What if we ques­tioned the very premise behind nam­ing some class­rooms the “class­rooms of the future” sim­ply because they have been adding tech­nol­ogy in lit­er­ally mind­less ways? What if the Edu­ca­tion of the Future (some­times also referred to as “21st Cen­tury Skills”) wasn’t so much about the How we edu­cate but about the What we want stu­dents to learn and develop, apply­ing what we know about mind and brain to the needs they are likely to face dur­ing the next 50–70 years of their lives? Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Way to Learn: Taking a Test?

What do you think is the best way to learn: Study­ing the mate­r­ial repeat­edly, draw­ing detailed dia­grams of what you are learn­ing, or tak­ing a test in which you recall what you have read?

A recent study pub­lished in Sci­ence and sum­ma­rized in this New York Times arti­cle found out that tak­ing a test was the best method!

stu­dents who read a pas­sage, then took a test ask­ing them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 per­cent more of the infor­ma­tion a week later than stu­dents who used [the] two other meth­ods. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching is the art of changing the brain

James Zull is a pro­fes­sor of Biol­ogy. He is also Direc­tor Emer­i­tus of the Uni­ver­sity Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion in Teach­ing and Edu­ca­tion at Case West­ern Reserve Uni­ver­sity in Ohio. The Art of Changing  the Brain - James ZullThese roles most assuredly coa­lesced in his 2002 book, The Art of Chang­ing the Brain: Enrich­ing the Prac­tice of Teach­ing by Explor­ing the Biol­ogy of Learn­ing.

This is a book for both teach­ers and par­ents (because par­ents are also teach­ers!) Writ­ten with the earnest­ness of first-person expe­ri­ence and reflec­tion, and a life­time of exper­tise in biol­ogy, Zull makes a well-rounded case for his ideas. He offers those ideas for your perusal, pro­vid­ing much sup­port­ing evi­dence, but he doesn’t try to ram them into your psy­che. Rather, he prac­tices what he preaches by engag­ing you with sto­ries, inform­ing you with fact, and encour­ag­ing your think­ing by the way he posits his ideas.

I have read a num­ber of books that trans­late cur­rent brain research into prac­tice while pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for teach­ers to imple­ment. This is the first book I have read that pro­vides a bio­log­i­cal, and clearly ratio­nal, overview of learn­ing and the brain. Zull pro­vokes you into think­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Should Social-Emotional Learning Be Part of Academic Curriculum?

The Secret to Suc­cess
New research says social-emotional learn­ing helps stu­dents in every way.
– by Daniel Goleman

Schools are begin­ning to offer an increas­ing num­ber of courses in social and emo­tional intel­li­gence, teach­ing stu­dents how to bet­ter under­stand their own emo­tions and the emo­tions of others.

It sounds warm and fuzzy, but it’s a trend backed up by hard data. Today, new stud­ies reveal that teach­ing kids to be emo­tion­ally and socially com­pe­tent boosts their aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment. More pre­cisely, when schools offer stu­dents pro­grams in social and emo­tional learn­ing, their achieve­ment scores gain around 11 per­cent­age points.

That’s what I heard at a forum held last Decem­ber by the Col­lab­o­ra­tive for Aca­d­e­mic, Social, and Emo­tional Learn­ing (CASEL). (Dis­clo­sure: I’m a co-founder of CASEL.) Roger Weiss­berg, the organization’s direc­tor, gave a pre­view of a mas­sive study run by researchers at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois, which ana­lyzed eval­u­a­tions of more than 233,000 stu­dents across the country.

Social-emotional learn­ing, they dis­cov­ered, helps stu­dents Read the rest of this entry »

Schools: what should they do, and for whom?

We read today how Panel Urges Schools to Empha­size Core Math Skills (Wash­ing­ton Post). Now, there is a more fun­da­men­tal ques­tion to con­sider: what should the schools oflearning, apple the XXI cen­tury look like and do?.

To cre­ate a much needed dia­logue, I asked one the most thought­ful edu­ca­tion blog­gers around to share her (I guess it’s “her”) impres­sions with us. Enjoy!
—————

What do we want our schools to do, and for whom? 

–By edu­won­kette

Schools,” Stan­ford his­to­rian David Laba­ree wrote, “occupy an awk­ward posi­tion at the inter­sec­tion between what we hope soci­ety will become and what we think it really is.” What do we want our schools to do, and for whom?

Schools, like most orga­ni­za­tions, have many goals. These goals often com­pete with and dis­place each other. Rely­ing heav­ily on the work of David Laba­ree, I will dis­cuss three cen­tral goals of Amer­i­can schools – social effi­ciency, demo­c­ra­tic equal­ity, and social mobil­ity. Through­out the his­tory of Amer­i­can edu­ca­tion, these goals have been run­ning against each other in a metaphor­i­cal horser­ace. While they are not mutu­ally exclu­sive, the three goals intro­duce very dif­fer­ent met­rics of edu­ca­tional suc­cess. More often than not, they sit uncom­fort­ably with each other.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learn about the 2014 SharpBrains Summit in 2 minutes

Watch Larry King’s interview

» Click HERE in the USA, or HERE else­where (opens 28-min program)

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