Science or art? Since 1933, tradition has held education as an art. Today, education is being viewed differently. Could that be because teaching is become more scientific? It is, and there is a good reason for it.
Teacher-centered teaching refers to the method that requires the teacher to stand in front of the students, orating the facts to be learned. Almost all of the class was spent in the teacher instructing students. Students sat in their desks and soaked in all the wisdom their attention spans could endure. Much learning was done by rote. It was a great method if the goal was classroom control. Teaching, based on Skinner’s behaviorism, was considered successful if the students demonstrated a change in behavior. For many decades, this was the standard.
In recent years, there has been a revolution in educational thinking. Though some hold on to traditional thinking, the changes are based on scientific research and cannot be ignored. Over the past 15 years, research on how the brain learns has changed at an incredible clip. The human brain is home to billions of nerve cells that are responsible to receive, process and transmit information. Their dendrites branch out and provide a receptive surface that creates connections that moves the information from nerve to nerve. As the brain was studied, twelve principles emerged that have affected how teachers view the learning of their students. In effect, current brain research is speaking directly to teacher.
Because of new knowledge, brain-based education has been growing. Brain-based education is steeped in science. Today’s teachers consider many factors that affect the way their lessons are planned.
Learning is enhanced when the brain is challenged. Listening to the teacher does not present much of a challenge to students, so students have to be more involved in the educational process.
Learning is inhibited when a child feels threatened. Teachers need to create a safe learning environment. This includes creating lessons that allow students to understand the material. Lessons should be differentiated, addressing each individual child. Connections and patterns must be created. Children learn better when they can make connections when they scaffold on prior information. Every brain is unique.
Scientific research has changed the way people teach because more is understood about how people learn. As scientists continue to study the brain, more discoveries are being made which may affect the way teachers teach. It is a benefit to students for teachers to keep their pulse on what science has to say. While teaching will always be an art, it is also a science when it is properly done.