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What every teacher should know about … memory

The Guardian – Bradley Busch

“There is a wealth of psychology research that can help teachers to improve how they work with students – but academic studies of this kind aren’t always easy to access, or to translate into the realities of classroom practice. This series seeks to redress that, by taking a selection of studies and making sense of the important information for teachers.”(more)

Want to ‘train your brain’? Forget apps, learn a musical instrument

The Guardian – Mo Costandi

“The multimillion dollar brain training industry is under attack. In October 2014, a group of over 100 eminent neuroscientists and psychologists wrote an open letter warning that “claims promoting brain games are frequently exaggerated and at times misleading”. Earlier this year, industry giant Lumosity was fined $2m, and ordered to refund thousands of customers who were duped by false claims that the company’s products improve general mental abilities and slow the progression of age-related decline in mental abilities. And a recent review examining studies purporting to show the benefits of such products found “little evidence … that training improves improves everyday cognitive performance”. While brain training games and apps may not live up to their hype, it is well established that certain other activities and lifestyle choices can have neurological benefits that promote overall brain health and may help to keep the mind sharp as we get older. One of these is musical training. Research shows that learning to play a musical instrument is beneficial for children and adults alike, and may even be helpful to patients recovering from brain injuries.”(more)

Can parents help with math homework? YES

Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Jason Zimba, Ph.D.

“Some readers may have seen online articles suggesting that my advice to parents is not to help their children with math homework. Nothing could be further from my belief. Home can and should be a place where children strengthen their skills and learn to enjoy mathematics…Parents can help at home with skill building and fluency practice—things like memorizing basic math facts. When it comes to skills, practice is essential.”(more)

Stop taking all the fun out of science, astronaut Mae Jemison pleads

Chicago Tribune – Heidi Stevens

“”Kids come out of the chute liking science,” NASA astronaut Mae Jemison told me. “They ask, ‘How come? Why? What’s this?’ They pick up stuff to examine it. We might not call that science, but it’s discovering the world around us.” Then something happens. “Once we get them in school, we turn science from discovery and hands-on to something you’re supposed to do through rote memorization,” said Jemison, who was the first African-American woman to travel in space when she flew the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1992…”When you have teachers saying, ‘I don’t have enough time for hands-on activities,’ we need to rethink the way we do education,” Jemison said. “The drills we do, where you’re telling kids to memorize things, don’t actually work. What works is engaging them and letting them do things and discover things.””(more)

Move Over Memorization

The Huffington Post – Lydia Dobyns

“Good grades all too often reflect good memorization and test-taking skills. We have to ask ourselves, now that answers to myriads of questions are a google search away, why would we measure student knowledge by an ability to regurgitate facts through multiple choice tests? In our work lives, we are often judged by our ability to demonstrate and apply an understanding of readily accessible data or facts. This places “learning to learn” as a critical guiding principle for learning. A challenge we face as educators is how do we create a meaningful, relevant education experience that prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist? One place to start is with curiosity ─ creating a mind brought alive by inquiry. It’s replacing — getting the correct answer in the fastest time with the least effort possible — with an appetite for curiosity, the desire to know and learn. This will help students develop new skills; and this adaptive behavior capacity will be essential to be employable in an ever-changing workplace.”(more)