Neuroscience and Equity

Equity, Neuroscience and Cognitive Capacity

In the fourth of a five-part series published on the Learning Counsel, Roger Stark and Betsy Hill turn to the contribution that neuroscience research can make to address equity in education by solving the problem of students’ cognitive capacity. This is the third of the three steps we identified in the first article:

  1. Understand each student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses
  2. Remediate, build and strengthen both weaker cognitive processes and those that are already strong
  3. Construct learning environments (technology, instruction, curriculum, etc.) incorporating science rather than folklore.

While many educators we speak with are eager to learn about the brain and what that implies for instructional practice, many do not.  One post on our social media pages even triggered this retort from a teacher, “Leave the neuroscience to the neuroscientists.”

Leaving the neuroscience to the neuroscientists turns out not to be a very good idea.  When we do that, we fall prey to neuromyths and folklore and condemn our students to learning experiences that discourage them, fail them, and even alienate them.  Of course, that is not always the case.  There are great teachers who encourage and inspire students on the way to success.  But we know that only about a third of students are performing at grade level, so there is something missing.  Most educators do not, according to multiple research studies and our own experience, have a solid understanding of the organ that actually learns – the brain.

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