You don’t need to be an expert nutritionist in order to know what foods are good for you, and why; nor do you need to be a neuroscientist to know a few things about the brain and its role in how we learn and process information. Nevertheless, large numbers of consumers still don’t seem to understand or apply the basics of healthy eating, and likewise there are teachers, managers, administrators and policy makers who still don’t apply the insights that are now available about the learning brain.
When I did my professional teacher training in the early 1970s, in addition to my course on methodology I was equipped with the history, philosophy, sociology and psychology of education. But in those days, nobody mentioned anything about the most important subject of all: the brain. Neuroscience was in its infancy.
A reflective practitioner will gain insight from experience, but most of us know, simply from being learners ourselves, what does and doesn’t work for us. Nevertheless it is reassuring to know that such experience is backed up by empirical scientific findings and that humanistic approaches are based on more than warm and fuzzy idealism. A basic understanding of the why and how of our innate learning mechanisms can empower us to find evermore creative ways of nurturing ourselves, and others, as learners and decision makers.
A simple search on Google™ and YouTube™ is a good starting point if you are further interested. You will find masses of fascinating material and references to trawl through. I have included at the end of each chapter some of the websites that I have recently visited, but there are dozens and dozens more. Over time I have gleaned and synthesised my own rudimentary understanding from a variety of sources, including web pages (particularly Wikipedia®), and broadcasts, talks and workshops, to the extent that I cannot accurately recall what I learnt from whom and where. For this reason I have not included an exhaustive list of academic references, but, in the book, I have accredited in CAPITAL LETTERS the names of people whom I understand to be key contributors to this area of knowledge, and the discoveries and concepts that they have brought to us. This being the age of electronic communication you can easily search for these and more.