Brain knowledge, a key tool for teachers

Anna Forés Miravelles is a lecturer at the Department of Teaching and Learning and Educational Organization.


The concept of neuroeducation is relatively new. It has been talked about recently, but it needs more knowledge on the formation of the brain, how it matures and how it works when we learn, which it is essential for education professionals. It has been proved that knowing the latest research on neuroeducation and apply them in the classrooms can improve the educational practices and as well, adapt it to the needs of the 21st century.

Researchers David Bueno, from the Faculty of Biology, and Anna Forés, from the Faculty of Education, coordinated the book La práctica educativa con mirada neurocientífica , which has been published. The goal of this volume is clear: fighting one of the most widespread critiques in neuroeducation, namely that the ideas it brings can be valid on paper, but it is complex to put them into practice. Bueno and Forés, codirectors of the Chair on Neuroeducation UB-Edu1st, state that “the distinctive feature of this book is that it provides neuroeducation practical experiences that, despite being easy to apply, can provide shocking results’.

The book includes practical experiences in all education phases -from childhood to university, other higher education studies and adult education-, carried out by the members of the Chair, all of them co-authors of the book. Bueno notes that the benefits of neuroeducation and its practice are valid for any training phase, since “the brain matures while it ages, adding skills and making them progress, regardless of the life stage we are in, it is constantly learning’.

Transforming teaching from a neuroeducational perspective

People have become aware of the importance of neuroeducation when the technology that allows us to see how the brain works has been available. “Neuroscience is still a very young field. Until a few years ago, we did not have the techniques that allow us to monitor specific areas of the brain and analyse how they function in everyday situations. Thanks to these tools, we have begun to understand how we learn, what motivates us and, for example, the role of emotions. These discoveries generate many possibilities when it comes to improving educational proposals, with a solid scientific base", says Bueno.

However, Forés notes that we need to be “prudent and humble, and transfer neuroscience research to the educational field and always remember that neuroeducation is not a replacement of pedagogy. It cannot be. It is a complementary approach that allows us to have new data to continue doing research from pedagogy, sociology or psychology’. Education requires new responses to adapt to the needs of the 21st century and, in this sense, researchers note that neuroscience has validated and confirmed many of the things that were already known or intuited, and has shown that old practices or sayings related to education -such as to spare the rod is to spoil the child-, which were unquestionable until recently.

The researchers believe that, given current knowledge, all education professionals should have a basic understanding of the brain. ’Knowing how the brain works, how it learns, how it matures or what motivates us helps us understand, for example, why there are educational strategies that work very well and others that don not. It even allows us to see that certain strategies that can work in the short term can, on the other hand, have pernicious effects in the mid and long term for the integral structure of the person. Therefore, neuroscience simplifies our teaching profession and helps us improve it", concludes Forés.

Neuroeducation is not a fad, it is here to stay e

Most of the educational community values the contributions of neuroeducation positively. In this sense, the coordinators of this work state that "although neuroscience may seem like a fad, the truth is that it has come to stay." Bueno and Forés have been teaching in neuroeducation through a postgraduate degree at the University of Barcelona for six years and have observed a clear upward trend regarding its demand. In fact, this year the offering of postgraduate places has doubled, in blended and e-learning versions and the master’s degree in Advanced Neuroscience has also been created. Also, the 3rd Neuroscience Conference , which registered more than half a thousand attendees last year, will take place this March.

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