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Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections

Introduction: The Art and Science of Teaching Thinking Big, Starting Small

This course has two main layers:

  • It provides new insights into learning based on research.
  • It stimulates your thinking about how to connect your teaching and lessons to these insights.

Some of the ideas in the course may challenge your current beliefs about learning and teaching. Some of the ideas may reinforce your beliefs, especially by making you conscious of feelings you have had about learning as a result of your years of experience as both learner and teacher. Either way, you will be filled with ideas, and you may feel a desire to start changing and fixing right away. You may even feel obligated to become agents of change. We can offer only one bit of advice: relax.

Change takes time, and most teachers don’t have a lot of that (except in the summer, which is a great time to think deeply about new ideas). The scope of what you can change also depends on how much autonomy, authority or responsibility you have. An experienced division head may be able to implement new ideas more quickly and with wider impact than can a new teacher. You can only do what you can do. What’s important is that you start somewhere.

But even starting can be a challenge. Change is rarely comfortable, even when conditions support it. Some of you will come to this course from schools where you enjoy relative freedom, schools perhaps with small classes and a culture of innovation, but others will come from overcrowded classrooms in rigid systems that discourage change. And, just about all of us are products of over a century of tenacious assumptions about how children learn. Because we tend to internalize these assumptions and teach as we were taught and because the education-testing complex relies on these assumptions, new ideas can feel threatening. What we hope you will find here is a connection to a community of learners who understand both the need and the difficulty of change and who support your efforts no matter how limited or far-reaching. There are no small changes.

Series Directory

Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation. 2006.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-815-7