In the Spring 2018 edition of the Charter College of Teaching journal, Impact, Annie Brookman-Byrne and Michael SC Thomas explore the role of neuroscience in the classroom. This fast developing field seems to offer insights that will enable pedagogy to move firmly into the twenty first century. The authors rightly identify education as a nexus, ‘the convergence of many disciplines’ (pp.5) but there seem to be two serious gaps in their analysis.
Brookman-Byrne and Thomas note the potential for teachers to achieve a ‘deep understanding’ (pp. 5) but they seem to have little appreciation of the role that young people have to play. Given the role that metacognition has been proven to play by research such as the Hattie meta-study, it seems unfortunate that the article focuses solely on teachers implying a ‘done unto role’ for learners.
Exploring the discoveries associated with brain activity the article reveals fascinating details regarding how the brain processes information and post-adolescent cognitive plasticity. The authors rightly observe the centrality of teachers in translating research findings in to practice: ‘It is essential that teachers are part of the translation process’ (pp.6).
While acknowledging that a new dialogue must develop between practitioner and researcher the article fails to consider that other factors, most notably the edicts (regularly changing) of central government play a significant part in the conversation. One need only consider the implications of research critical of role recall testing to appreciate that science and politics are not easily abstracted.