Neuroscience, ECE and play

In a Guest Editorial to the Early Childhood Education Journal, Stephen Rushton “examines neuroscience and its impact on the field of education. [He] intertwines research with basic principles of learning…. The four principles are: (1) the brain is uniquely organized; (2) the brain is continually growing; (3) a ‘brain-compatible’ classroom enables connection of learning to positive emotions; and (4) children’s brains need to be immersed in real-life, hands-on, and meaningful learning experiences.” (abstract)

He writes: “As teachers, we make hundreds of decisions daily. Knowing when to step in, take over, wait, model, and lead is a balancing act that requires much skill. How much freedom do we give? When do we intervene in the course of a child’s learning? And now standardized testing has made its way down to 1st-grade classrooms. As a result, Kindergarten classes become the training grounds for success in 1st grade, and not necessarily a place where children can explore, grow, and learn at their own pace. What is our role as educators in this new world of standardized education?” (p.90)

“Clearly, times changed when the industrial age shifted to the information era. Our way of thinking and the neuro-pathways of our young are also changing. It has become clear that educators need not [-p.91] only to help children to do well in school but also – and more importantly – to help children survive in a world we ourselves cannot truly comprehend, see, or even imagine. It is our task as early childhood educators to help today’s children learn to analyze, sunthesize, and clarigy information, not simply recite facts and figures from the past.” (p.91)

“…the use of play as a form of learning, when left open-ended, is congruent with individual differences. Each brain’s structure is designed to process information uniquely…. Playful learning allows for individual differences and mastery to occur.” (p.91)

In 2007, Pat Wolfe, an educational consultant and expert on brain research, suggested that the bridge between the field of neuroscience research and education is not the job of neuroscientists, but instead, that of educators.” (p.91)

Educators are aware of the changes that take place in children from day to day, month to month. Many of these changes are biologically driven and unique from child to child. Our job is to notice, accept, and modify the curriculum to each student.” (p.92)

Ref: Stephen Rushton (2011) Neuroscience, Early Childhood Education and Play: We are Doing it Right! Early Childhood Education Journal 39: 89-94


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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