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Educational neuroscience – experiences from Learning Lab Denmark and the traditional university system Theresa Schilhab GNOSIS Research Centre DPU Research.

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Presentation on theme: "Educational neuroscience – experiences from Learning Lab Denmark and the traditional university system Theresa Schilhab GNOSIS Research Centre DPU Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Educational neuroscience – experiences from Learning Lab Denmark and the traditional university system Theresa Schilhab GNOSIS Research Centre DPU Research field: how implicit knowledge facilitates explicit knowledge University of Aarhus Denmark

2 Does abstract cognition depend on linguistic immersion? How might non-verbal processes facilitate verbal knowledge?Are the brains of boys and girls educationally different?

3 Two domains - two perspectives My background Research at LLD and later traditional university system as post.doc. and research manager Recommendations - the reconciliation Education&Neuroscience

4 My background Neurobiologist in electrophysiology - the molecular basis of nonassociative learning in invertebrates –You can do philosophizing while taking a shower, however doing experiments depends on training and skills –Theoretical neuroscientist William Calvin: Philosophy studies for 4 years (BA in philosophy) Ph.D. on the development of consciousness in prehistoric man. Recruited to Learning Lab - alternative learning initiative –Can you actually talk about learning from a biological perspective? The more experienced writers about intelligence such as IQ researchers, steer clear of the C word. Many of my fellow neuroscientists avoid consciousness as well (some physicists, alas, have been all to happy to fill the vacuum with beginner’s mistakes). Calvin, W. H. How brains think. (New York: BasicBooks, 1996: p. 2). Childhood interest = animal minds

5 Requires documentary proofs ”Viden der virker” KNOWLEGDE THAT WORKS Learning Lab Denmark period From (LLD), (DPU) and (University of Aarhus) Conditions in Denmark since 2001 –Merkantile administration of the educational system. From day-care to kindergarden to grammar school, highschool and university. –Example: it is mandatory for teachers to generate individual study plans for students A switch in the belief in the teacher as a skilled authority to an employee under profound administration A great demand for ‘effective knowledge’ - catchphrase: Led by professor, philosopher Hans Siggaard Established as a research institute by the Danish Government in 2001 and integrated into the Danish University of Education in 2006, the Learning Lab Denmark is a laboratory for research into learning and competence development in the knowledge society. Engaged in close collaboration with partners from many sectors and communication is a key element. The staff had a background in education, sociology, mathematics, chemistry, biology and neuropsychology. The NCL group consisted of consortium leader, a post doc neuropsychologist, a post doc neurobiologist and a Ph.D. candidate from psychology. 4 people.

6 Lesson learned – avoid import of neuroscience results into educational science Brain research appears promising, but: –Neuroscience per se does not address the pedagogical world –Laboratory work vs. field work Situated cognition - Ex. Comparative psychology –Naturalistic fallacy What is, is different from what ought to be Avoid import of neuroscience results into the pedagogical context Brain science in pedagogy must depend on both sciences

7 Traditional university – normalisation and obstacles within the system –No tradition for natural sciences in Danish Pedagogical contexts (no inherent appreciation) Fightings for acceptance of biology as a material contribution –No understanding of how to abide by empirical standards ”This is a dry university” –Internal funding was parallelled to number of classes taught, however the education was not established, so I was urged to reorient my research interests. –Ph.d. students were rejected because there were no supportive Ph.D. schools. –My applications for external funding in official funds (the Danish Council for Independent Research) were tossed around between administrators and finally turned down because they were in no mans land. - Loss of staff. Why is it like that? Traditionally a science in the domain of the humanities ’hostile takeover’ Fear of brainbased learning as a sociobiological, positivistic enterprise Scandinavian ideas of inclusion and the democratic ideal Ideas of equality (ex. multiple intelligence)

8 External support – the public and educational practioners were extremely receptive –The public as well as educational practitioners are not trained to understand the context of neuroscientific results –Knowledge is popular science journalism - beermat knowledge –The lack of neuroscientists with pedagogical insight to comment and secure scientific standards creates myths In Denmark: Faulty interpretations Gender separation in schools Boys (and girls) are stigmatised Summer schools Presentations in educational institutions Books, papers, open university lectures, interviews, consultants BUT Humble and self-critical – avoid financial interests prevail Black market opportunities for ’scientific frauds’

9 Recommendations – reconciliation of educational science and neuroscience Implementation of a mixed scientific field EDUCATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE in educational institutions –Courses at graduate and post graduate levels –to start introducing the blended kind of reasoning in students who will become cultural bearers of the field. Laboratory facilities to sustain empirical work at the institution Funding opportunities –and perhaps selective seed money for an introductory period of time Lecturers and researchers should be knowlegeable in reasoning in both scientific disciplines, humanities and the natural sciences. –Critical mass


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