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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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Yes, you read it right. Details below of a rare initiative to test out some of the methods used in schools via an exploration of the interface between neuroscience and learning.

http://educationmediacentre.org/briefin ... d-methods/

I tracked this (and the underlying 2014 report*) down as it addresses one of my personal bugbears on 'learning styles research' - for which there is absolutely no proper evidence but which has gained currency in some educational settings, wasting imho a lot of time and leading to the ill-advised and inexpert diversion of scarce resources as teachers are encouraged to dabble in pseudo-neuroscience:
Quote:
One example given at the briefing [ Wellcome Trust, to launch the project ] of a plausible but potentially harmful teaching practice, which isn`t supported by robust evidence, is the idea that children fall into separate groups of learning styles. In the past, this has led to learners being labelled as, for example, “visual learners” and being taught primarily visually. But there is research suggesting this approach may actually be harmful to learning.
Anyway it outlines some actual real money aimed at looking at the interface between neuroscience and education. Interesting stuff.

*Neuroscience and Education


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:38 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:48 pm
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Thanks, Amber - IoE and Birkbeck offer a MSc in Educational Neuroscience that I'd love to take in a couple of years - this report looks really interesting.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:58 pm 
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Hope it turns out to be money well spent. Better than the huge amounts that will go on working out and clearing up Brexit.

I was amazed when I realised that all that psycho-babble about learning styles is still used in education.

Why aren't trained educators able to find out or work out for themselves it's a load of nonsense?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:03 pm
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Location: Cheshire
"the idea that children fall into separate groups of learning styles"

No need to waste £6 million on such pseudoscience-I have a cunning plan.

What we do is to invent some fiendishly difficult test that requires endless tutoring to pass (this ensures that only the right type of upstanding person from a good family can pass).Now we make every 10yr old sit this exam-we will call it 11+ (even though it is really a 10+ exam).

Now this is the really cunning bit-we forcibly separate the top 30% or so and put them in a very nice school just tailor made for them,attracting the best of the best teachers and feed them a diet of triple science and Latin.For the other unfortunates we put them in their own institution were they will learn the invaluable skills of metalwork,wood work,needlework and home economics.

The former will eventually be sent forward to administer our new empire that we are building post Brexit,the latter are always good cannon fodder if the need should arise to keep the natives in their place.

See I told you it was cunning,I wonder why no one had thought of it before.

ps can I have my £6,000,000 now please-in cash!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:21 am 
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mystery wrote:
I was amazed when I realised that all that psycho-babble about learning styles is still used in education.

Why aren't trained educators able to find out or work out for themselves it's a load of nonsense?
Well I think the thing about that is that it sort of sounds plausible. And of course it is true that people learn in different ways. The issue for me has always been that this fact - that we all learn in different ways - should be translated into requiring teachers to teach in different ways and that there is some kind of requirement to tailor that to the 'learning styles' of the class. This is blatant nonsense - someone listed at one point 62 different learning styles - is a teacher meant to offer this array of styles? A good teacher will use different methods and will suggest ways in which children might learn material, but at the end of the day we have to take some responsibility for our own learning and requiring a teacher to run about making noises for auditory learners, acting things out in mime for visual/interactive learners or making touchy-feely models for the supposed kinaesthetic ones is not the way to go.

With regard to your last point - well. I always felt that synthetic phonics was not the best way to teach children to read. It is boring, lacks connection with actual language and makes reading into something which appears to be mysterious and needing 'unlocking' rather than something a person of average intelligence is very capable of picking up almost by themselves when they are ready to do so. But look at the phonics revolution which swept our schools! Children were going around making 't t t' noises and flinging their heads from side to side ('t' for 'tennis' - of course, which is outside the experience of almost all 4 year olds, but that is another matter), and weren't allowed near an actual book until they had mastered all these 'phonemes' (they all knew that word at 5!). This was mainstream stuff - everyone bought into it (my conscience is clear!). Well not everyone actually as one of my closest friends is HOD at a university teacher training institution and she was tearing her hair out over it. Either way, now look:
http://educationmediacentre.org/researc ... udy-finds/

http://educationmediacentre.org/blog/go ... rs-really/

And in that last one you have the answer to your question: 'government imposition of...'. Here we allow the government to decide exactly what goes on in schools. Justine Greening, our new Education S of S, has no background in education, and nor did either of her immediate predecessors. When she was appointed a week or two ago the types of people who appeared on her doorstep within a few days to brief her weren't neuroscientists or teachers. So basically we end up at the mercy of ideologues, consultants and spin doctors who get in quick and get their agenda across. Huddles and parties and little cosy briefings and boom! you're in. And yes it really is like that. And because in England we like nothing better than a new initiative, there is no time to check it works before you introduce it - someone brings out a flash study in a pretty document with lots of charts in and your minister is hooked. And then the poor civil servants in the DfE (I think there may still be a few of them left) get the job of trying to water it down and turn it into something which might look plausible and sell, but never mind if not because the next person in post will get rid of it anyway.

Sorry, long rant and long and incomplete 'answer' to your question. But after one year of training, on the job, in which they are basically thrown in and largely left to get on with it, most new teachers aren't in any position to challenge that kind of stuff, frankly. In the case of phonics, they weren't allowed to as it became statutory (how do we allow this?!) and in the case of learning styles - well, like the brain gym, the mindfulness (that will be next to go), the drinking water all day, it sounds good and progressive and is rooted in some kind of 'truths' so why not? Because saying 'I have always taught this way and it seems to work' doesn't go down very well here, does it?


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