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Neuroscience and Learning

The Debunker Club, formed to fight myths and misconceptions in the learning field, is currently seeking public comment on the possibility that so-called neuroscience-based recommendations for learning and education are premature, untenable, or invalid.

 

Click here to comment or review the public comments made so far…

 

Click here to join The Debunker Club…

 

John Medina, author of Brain Rules, and Development Molecular Biologist at University of Washington/ Seattle Pacific University, was today’s keynote speaker at PCMA’s Education Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

He did a great job in the keynote, well organized and with oodles of humor, but what struck me was that even though the guy is a real neuroscientist, he is very clear in stating the limitations of our understanding of the brain. Here are some direct quotes from his keynote, as I recorded them in my notes:

“I don’t think brain science has anything to say for business practice.”

“We still don’t really know how the brain works.”

“The state of our knowledge [of the brain] is childlike.”

“The human brain was not built to learn. It was built to survive.”

Very refreshing! Especially in an era where conference sessions, white papers, and trade-industry publications are oozing with brain science bromides, neuroscience snake oil, and unrepentant con artists who, in the interest of taking money from fools, corral the sheep of the learning profession into all manner of poor purchasing decisions.

The Debunker Club is working on a resource page to combat the learning myth, “Neuroscience (Brain Science) Trumps Other Sources of Knowledge about Learning,” and John Medina gives us more ammunition against the silliness.

In addition to John’s keynote, I enjoyed eating lunch with him. He’s a fascinating man, wicked knowledgeable about a range of topics, funny, and kind to all (as I found out as he developed a deep repartee with the guy who served our food). Thanks John for a great time at lunch!

One of the topics we talked about was the poor record researchers have in getting their wisdom shared with real citizens. John believes researchers, who often get research funding from taxpayer money, have a moral obligation to share what they’ve learned with the public.

I shared my belief that one of the problems is that there is no funding stream for research translators. The academy often frowns on professors who attempt to share their knowledge with lay audiences. Calls of “selling out” are rampant. You can read my full thoughts on the need for research translators at a blog post I wrote early this year.

Later in the day at the conference, John was interviewed in a session by Adrian Segar, an expert on conference and meeting design. Again, John shined as a deep and thoughtful thinker — and refreshingly, as I guy who is more than willing to admit when he doesn’t know and/or when the science is not clear.

To check out or buy the latest version of Brain Rules, click on the image below:

 

 

 

 

June is Debunk Learning Styles Month in the learning field!

One of the most ubiquitous myths in the world today, learning styles has risen to a crescendo within the workplace learning field and in education as well. The idea is that if you diagnose learners on their learning styles and then tailor learning methods to the different style — that learning results will improve.

It’s a widespread belief, but it’s actually false. Research evidence suggests that using learning styles to guide learning design does not improve learning results.

The good news is that there are several solid research reviews that demonstrate this. Indeed, The Debunker Club, which I organize, has compiled some excellent resources for folks who want to see the evidence.

To see The Debunker Club resource page on learning styles, click here.

To join The Debunker Club in debunking learning styles now (June 2015), click here.

To become a member of The Debunker Club, click here.

 

 

To Magazine Editors, Bloggers, Tweeters, and other Opinion Leaders in the learning field:

I’m wondering if you’d help publicize The Debunkers Club (www.Debunker.Club)

Launched just two months ago, we’ve already enrolled members from every continent except for Antarctica and South America.

The Debunker Club is dedicated to fighting myths and misconceptions in the learning field. In the past, individuals and organizations have taken on the responsibility of improving the information in the field, but still, bad information—sometimes dangerous information—continues to be conveyed.

The Debunker Club is taking a more proactive approach, hoping that we can make more of a difference. To check out the types of motivations that inspire members of The Debunker Club, we have a webpage that highlights their testimony.

I’d especially like you to publicize our upcoming April Fool’s Week, a week dedicated to debunking the myths in our field, one at a time. You can read about it here: http://www.debunker.club/april-fools-week.html

Thank you for considering this request!

We need your help! We're all in this together!

 

= Will Thalheimer

Organizer of The Debunker Club