29th October 2009
I have been struck by the recent interest, from different perspectives, of the scientific community in learning. This occurred to me while doing some of my own CPD. At the time I was sitting at my desk, reflecting on how I study and reflecting on whether I am studying in the best way for me. I wondered why just thinking was fairly tiring, whether sipping a cup of tea from time-to-time and playing music in the background was just a distraction and whether it was worth playing the video game I had just bought, having been earnestly advised by a nine-year old the day before that it might be a bit beyond me. So what of this recent scientific interest in learning?
Recent research published in New Scientist suggests that the modern human brain is a huge energy glutton, accounting for nearly half of our resting metabolic rate. The human brain seems to have expanded in size in connection with an ice age some 2.5 million years ago, which allowed human brains to cool and grow, although the suggestion is that the main driver of brain growth is the need for humans to outcompete their neighbours. So much for the brain as our basic tool for learning Ð the competitive world of Work for humans has probably been around for millions of years.
There is a view that Neuroscience could do for schools what biomedical research has done for healthcare (New Scientist). It's thought that new findings in neuroscience will help us understand how our brains learn best. Work is on-going to investigate some of the myths around learning. For example, it is suggested that we don't have to listen to Mozart, as any music we like will help, and that drinking water does not help because of the link between lack of water and brain function, but rather because sipping a drink builds breaks into studying.
According to The Economist, some are beginning to argue that the future of schooling may lie with video games. Some work in the design and use of educational video games is going much further than using computers to supplement more traditional Chalk and talk approaches. As in other new technology areas, the argument is that it's not about applying them to existing processes, but about applying them in new ways.
Perhaps my approach to study isn't too bad after all.