Experience Changes the Brain


Last week’s most-clicked ASCD SmartBrief article debunks the notion that brains are hard-wired, and proposes that “helping teachers and students understand how the brain changes in response to experience may be the best way to link neuroscience findings to classroom experience.”

For example, at Jacob Shapiro Brain Based Instruction Laboratory School in Oshkosh, Wis., research on brain plasticity directly informs teaching and learning. Teachers incorporate new ways to teach thinking skills, metacognition, and create a learning environment that cues students to use these skills, and practice self-regulation, independently.

“Variability is often overlooked as a gift rather than a nemesis; teachers think, ‘these students are so different, they can’t adapt to what I’m teaching,’ ” Education Week quotes Marc Schwartz, the director of the Southwest Center for Mind, Brain, and Education at the University of Texas at Arlington: “Mind-brain-education [study] has given us a more flexible view of children, and to the extent teachers accept that, they become more powerful teachers.”

Does research on brain plasticity inform your teaching?


  1. When I think about the brain, I also think about Garmston and Costa’s work with cognitive coaching. These two were ahead of their times as they created techniques for mediating others’ thinking. Much of their work now is supported by brain research and how the brain responds to certain states of mind.


  2. The “Science of Learning” blog (http://www.scilearn.com/blog/) covers a variety of topics concerning how brain plasticity can be used to improve education. For example, last week, they wrote a post about the myths and actual research surrounding the physiological differences in male and female brains and how each learns.


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