Neuroscience and Education: The Challenge for Teachers


Throughout the world, neurosciences have found their way into the world of education. The aim of this neural science-education connection is to create a common conceptual and methodological framework to guide school systems that wish to integrate neuroscience into their educational practice. Neuroscientific knowledge of brain development can help teachers enrich their educational practices.

With the help of techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which makes it possible to show images of the brain in real learning situations, neuroscientists can now help teachers better understand learning processes. For example, cerebral imaging has made it possible to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of memory, and this knowledge can help teachers modify or adapt their teaching so that students can better remember what is being taught.

It seems very important for neuroscientists and teachers to work together on the basis of this newly acquired knowledge so that together they can transpose the knowledge gained through MRI into didactic and pedagogical skills. This new area of ​​collaborative research, called “Neuroscience and Education,” is essential to the future of schools around the world.

But this area must remain a hub, a meeting place for natural, human, and social sciences. In the future, we cannot consider education as something which is purely scientific. The neurosciences have particular insight into cognitive functions and, as psychologists, philosophers, and sociologists do, they can encourage and stimulate educators to make some adjustments in the system. All of these areas have the potential and will make a contribution to the schools of the future. This new approach to the field of education is a matter of the intellectual solidarity of all disciplines that have given humanity its livelihood.

Neuroscience and education have a long history in common. In their work, they deal with concepts that are quite closely related, these are "cognitive educability", cerebral plasticity, and epigenetics. I remember times when the concept of "cognitive imaginability" was still being debated: teachers resisted the term and challenged educational researchers to justify this pedagogical concept, which was based on no evidence. The “intuition” of the postulated educability of the cognitive ability did not appear to the teachers to be sufficiently evidence-based; they thought then that the intelligence of the students was something immutable.

Today, neuroscience and education work together in the area of ​​cerebral plasticity, which is no longer questioned. In other words, we know that the brain is malleable, that we are building new neurons, and that we are learning throughout our lives. The concept of cerebral plasticity has changed many ideas about the learning process. It is very important for professional educators because cerebral plasticity has opened up many possibilities of assistance or therapy offers for people with specific needs.

It seems impossible to envision learning in the future without the contribution of neuroscience. But we must be careful not to run the risk of wanting to use neuroscientific knowledge in an overly simplified form or to offer “turnkey” solutions that use tools that are unsuitable for this very specific and specialized field of research. This danger may be compounded by the fact that there are still too few connections between neuroscientists and teachers.

This is one reason why it is very important to promote scientific collaboration between the two sides and to break the traditional "top-down" model. In this old model, schools wanted answers that explain children's learning difficulties, related to memory, concentration, biorhythms, etc. The researchers tried to provide answers, of course, but it was often impossible to place the explanations given in the school context. Some knew almost nothing about the professional reality of the other. To enable schools and universities to have a common understanding of the learning processes means to know the daily working practice of one and the other in order to clarify their respective paradigms and to evaluate the results of the activities undertaken. 

Teachers and researchers could work together on research projects, each benefiting from each other's methodology. These are the challenges for the school of the future. However, with rapidly developing and changing scenarios neuroscience is definitely going to bring change in the educational realm and teachers are the ones who will need to get adapted to the same. To achieve the same, institutions and governments need to ensure that teachers are properly trained, given the required resources and facilities to successfully and peacefully be a part of the changing educational realm.

Have a look at this amazing article that talks about Technology for Education as a New Perspective.

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Read this article to better understand the Role of Neuroscience in Education.

Written By -  Khaled Jamal Hamed

Edited By - Bhanu Jain

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