Day 18: Understanding Brain Plasticity: Highlights from Neuroscience in the School For The Pragmatic Teacher

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30

May 23, 2024

Stand up woman teacher while kids look at the classmate that rise his hand

Foto de National Cancer Institute en Unsplash

Andrea Goldin presents a  friendly guide to understanding how our brain works when we learn (in Spanish and open access).

The first chapter, “Learning is Modifying the Brain,” presents the idea of plasticity and how that influences our learning.

Key Insights:

  • The brain’s ability to change is a consequence of experiences and development (it changes while we grow), and this is known as plasticity.

  • Plasticity operates slowly and progressively and is crucial for education; learning means modifying the brain.

  • Everyone learns different things at different paces, and this varies throughout life. Plasticity has different timings based on abilities, age, and life circumstances. Learning is a cycle of plasticity and experiences.

  • The adult brain remains plastic throughout life. There are no critical periods (the misinterpretation that if high stimulation isn’t provided to children in the early years, it’s useless.). However, there are sensitive periods during development when changes are easier to achieve.

  • Plasticity allows reversibility. Our brain’s extraordinary flexibility makes it sensitive and vulnerable to negative experiences, but harmful effects of neglect and carelessness are reversible.

  • There’s a significant relationship between cognitive, social, emotional, and physical health experiences and brain development, guiding actions from childhood through adulthood.

  • The brain’s ability to change based on experiences makes neural processes reversible, and investing in everyone’s development is worthwhile.

  • Formal and informal educational trajectories shape a person’s brain and thinking.

  • The brain builds progressively, and every learning builds on previous learnings.

  • The Pygmalion effect: Teachers' expectations significantly influence student performance, a phenomenon known as the interpersonal expectation effect. High expectations can improve students' intellectual performance through unconscious positive interactions (such as more frequent, longer, emotional, and higher-quality interactions with the teacher). In contrast, low expectations can lead to poorer outcomes. Because experiences influence learning, the teacher’s behavior with students is part of the experiences shaping the learning.

This is a concrete demonstration of our level of responsibility as educators.

Posted on:
May 23, 2024
2 minute read, 328 words
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee