Life-long Learning

Neuroplasticity: New Research Challenges Our Ideas About the Brain

I’ve been posting recently about the new approach to math. This approach is based on what researchers have been learning about the brain and how it works. In the past, many believed we were born with certain abilities and after childhood, our intelligence was pretty much set. This idea, that some of us were born with higher than normal intelligence than others, fueled at boom in IQ testing during the 70’s. As you might expect, this interest in assessing innate intelligence, had some negative effects. While some students benefited by being identified as “gifted”, many students were unfairly labeled as a result. Later, in the 80’s and 90’s Howard Garder’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, broadened our understanding of intelligence to include more than one way of thinking: students could be visual, kinesthetic, or interpersonal learners (among other categories.) Gardner’s theory definitely expanded our collective understanding of intelligence. Nonetheless, is still limited when we consider the findings of recent research.

As an educator, I will never tire of learning how the brain works. To this end, I recently came across a video series. The video I’ve posted below is about neuroplasticity, which refers to the ways the brain changes in as a result of new thoughts, behaviors, feelings or experiences. Researchers are learning the brain has a lot more plasticity than we ever thought possible before.

Basically, we can rewire our brains. In fact, it’s happening all the time…

Check out the video and let me know what you think in the comments below.

How does this inform your understanding of how we learn? How might we use this information to support our childrens’ or students’ learning? How might this affect our own ideas about what we can or can’t learn ourselves?

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2 thoughts on “Neuroplasticity: New Research Challenges Our Ideas About the Brain

  1. Loved this! (Although Alison, I couldn’t play the video directly from your site. I had to google it and found it on YouTube.)

    I love reading about brain development. One of my favorite parenting books is about how the brain works and how that helps you understand your child’s behavior, all the way up to the teen years. It’s called The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. It’s also fascinating how our brains really don’t reach adulthood until we’re 25 years old.

    I tell my eldest all the time that his brain is like a muscle, and the more he uses it, the smarter he gets.

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