Brainy classrooms

OECD Observer

How much do emotions influence learning? Could adults learn to learn? Which teaching methods could help children to reduce dyslexia and dyscalculia?

A new interactive teacher forum, set up by the OECD/CERI Learning Sciences and Brain Research project, invites teachers of all levels to join discussion with scientists on the new challenges of teaching and learning in the 21st century.

Teachers across the OECD area receive no basic training on how the brain works. When teachers hear the words “brain disorder” they naturally see it as being a problem outside their field of expertise. Hardly surprising therefore to find them often at a loss as to how to cope with students who have specific "brain-related" disorders, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia, but who cannot and should not be excluded from the mainstream.

On the other hand, teachers are very enthusiastic and ready to hear about how the brain works, how it “learns”, and they are open and ready to incorporate new ideas emerging from recent scientific findings into their methods of teaching, like discoveries in neuroscience that can help to improve teaching methods. But there is a danger in this because, as teachers are not well informed about recent scientific research – and hard-core research can be extremely difficult to understand – they might too readily believe misleading opinion, dramatic press headlines, and so on.

The OECD/CERI Learning Sciences and Brain Research project website has been a success with teachers, and in response, CERI has launched this new online forum in order to encourage debate, inform opinion and provide extensive resources for teachers, such as scientific articles and other pedagogic tools.

©OECD Observer No 245, November 2004

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