Essays on Brain

The Hippocampus provides the ability for permanent long-term memories stored in a different part of the brain. The neurotransmitter ACh assists in a person’s muscle control in the hippocampus for memory function. The hippocampus plays a big role in our whole body having to do with muscle control. For example, muscle control is needed for a person eating pizza, playing games and socializing. When socializing in a group, the Hippocampus allows the person to recall long-term permanent memories with the group. Socializing would include past and current life events and the information necessary to provide all details to their friends.

The Hypothalamus regulates body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleeping and waking, sexual activity, and emotions. This happens with control of the pituitary by regulating hormones within the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus provides a person’s appetite to join the group with the social aspect of sharing pizza and interacting with the group playing cards. If a person does not get enough sleep or much sleep, they wouldn’t be focused on conversation or playing games. They would be more focused on how tired they are and wouldn’t be present and enjoying their friends.

The Occipital lobes provide a person’s ability to take visual information observed with the eyes. The occipital lobes help to identify what they have seen, make sense of it, and verbalize what they have seen. The occipital lobe can help the person process the variety of pizza and which is most appealing to them. Seeing your friend’s wife in a baby blue top that brings out the blue in her eyes, allows the person to complement the friend based on what was observed and processed. Compliments and interaction in a social setting are just one part of friendship and interacting as a group. When playing games, a person can visualize the cards and the next actions they need to take to do good in the game.

Without the four areas of the brain discussed, a night of socializing over pizza and cards wouldn’t make for a complete evening of fun. With proper functioning, a person’s ability to share personal experiences, eat pizza, socialize and play games would not be possible.

Brain Development and Neuromythologies in Education 1223 Words 5 Pages I believe that knowledge of the brain is extremely important for educators, and that without it, the field of Education will never be able to see the advances that we find in the fields of medicine, media, etc. As we’ve discussed in class, value and respect for professional research is key to the field of education if we expect to improvingly teach our students. It’s astonishing that it’s possible for an individual to get a degree in Education while never being taught the development of the human brain and how to use that knowledge to teach when it’s completely necessary. For example, I know of a teacher who cannot even acknowledge the potential benefit in the knowledge of the human brain and how it works, and she insists that teaching comes natural by experience only. Even though I agree that with experience educators will improve, I also think that many of the struggles and barriers that educators experience in the profession is a result of ignorance of the brain. I believe there are more educators who read “teacher blogs” than those who read new research on learning and the brain. To know how to teach, we need to learn why kids behave the way that they do. Why is it that some students enter the classroom eager to learn while others dread the next 90 minutes? Why is it that students are distracted easily, and why must they move around so much?

These questions, I believe, can be answered by the study of evolutional psychology. We’ve had a couple of articles to read on evolutionary psychology, and I think these do a great job of explaining why this type of psychology is so important to educators. De Waal (2002) defines evolutionary psychology as “to provide an evolutionary account of human behavior” (pg. 187), and he goes on to elaborate on the function of this psychology: “By hypothesizing about the selection pressures that have shaped behavior in the past, evolutionary psychologists expect to arrive at testable hypotheses about present behavior… [it] has the potential to tie together the forest of hypotheses about human behavior now out there” (De Waal, pg. 187).

Knowing the reasons behind the questions I asked above, I believe, can be best answered by the research done in this field and others like it. Teachers are, in essence, people who manipulate the brain in such a way that the student is able to learn while in class, but before we are able to do this, we need to know what in the brain may cause students to become distracted, or simply not interested. De Waal (2002) would argue that teaching is (or should be) a direct response to the findings of evolutionary psychology. Buller (2005) would, more than likely, argue against evolutionary psychology as a way to explain behavior: “Evolutionary Psychology’s failure to produce solid empirical discoveries, I suggest, stems from problems with its theoretical framework- in particular, its reliance on ‘reverse engineering’ the mind from our Pleistocene past, its assumption that the adaptational architecture of the mind is massively modular, and its doctrine of a universal human nature” (pg. 282).

I want to make it clear that Buller (2005) doesn’t dismiss evolutionary psychology all together, but he does see fault in its theoretical framework and its ability to provide an accurate understanding for human behavior. Buller (2005) states that there is no universal human nature, but he fails to acknowledge that there is a universal human brain with a universal system that controls how we behave, act, and perceive, and that the study of this human brain can have the same results that will allow us to educate each student. My personal study of the brain and its development will be important for my role as educator. I plan on teaching elementary-aged students.

Because of this, I found the Hinton (2008) article very insightful and beneficial to the way I am going to teach my future students. In this section, I will focus on several statements from Hinton (2008) and will explain how I will utilize this information as an educator. Hinton (2008) begins her article by establishing that the Nature vs. Nurture war is ludicrous; we become who we are by a mixture of both. This will be important for me because I now know that I am never to assume that a child is hopeless because he lives in the projects, and I should never give up on a student because her parents couldn’t care less about her education. “Because the brain is dynamic and constructed over time, children should not be assigned to permanent schooling tracks at a young age…..Ability in a certain mathematical skill is not necessarily predictive of ability in another, raising questions about the validity of the criteria used when tracking children into ability groups” (Hinton, 2008, pg. 88, 97). This is extremely important and alarming, especially for 3rd-12th grade teachers who have to deal with the tracking system that has been established in our American education system. I was never aware of this tracking system because I was always considered to be in “Advanced Placement”, so I just accepted my blessing and didn’t question it during middle and high school. However, this system is not fair for students who cannot be challenged in school only because they didn’t pass a test (of patterns!!!) in 3rd grade.

“Since abilities develop over time, school should focus on the process of learning rather than on performance” (Hinton, 2008, pg. 88). This is a new idea for me, but I am aware of its accuracy. Student performance in any given day on any given assignment is determined by many different things: for example, temperature of the classroom, amount of sleep, method of studying (or lack of), is he/she hungry, home situation, students’ perception of the classroom, classmates, and teacher, etc. Performance cannot be measured to show if a student is “getting it”. As an educator I will focus on the process of learning, and I hope to learn this process in more depth during this course. “Learning is likely to be more effective if educators help to minimize stress and fear at school, teach students emotional regulation strategies, and provide a positive learning environment that is motivating to students” (Hinton, 2008, pg. 90). I can implement these concepts by using humor during the school day, establishing a positive, encouraging relationship with each student as well as students’ relationships with each other, be helpful and critical in my lectures and feedback, and give students multiple opportunities to see me for extra assistance.

So, what would I do if encountered the neuromythologies about education and the process of learning? John Geake’s (2009) article shattered several preconceptions I have learned over the years about learning: VAK learning methods, 10% usage of brain, left- and right-brained thinking, etc. “Characteristically, the evidential basis of these schemes does not lie in cognitive neuroscience, but rather with the various enthusiastic promoters; in fact, sometimes the scientific evidence flatly contradicts the brain-based claims” (Geake, 2009, pg. 124). Geake (2009) believes that these mythologies have been taught in teacher education courses around the country without supportable research there to show proof, and educators have blindly and foolishly accepted these claims without caring about the research to prove it. I believe Geake (2009) has written this article to persuade educators to search for scientific research that aligns with a theory before accepting and adopting the theory into the classroom.

Educators have become so lazy (when it comes to valuing research) that this will be a difficult goal to accomplish, but I think that, with courses like EDPY 401, the people graduating with degrees of Education will be conscious and embracing of educational research. If a future coworker or professor introduces a neuromythology, I know that I can do my part to spread the professionalism of our field by questioning the theory and asking for the research to confirm it. I know that this will be a touchy subject for the teachers who value experience over research, and I know that he/she will probably be defensive, but if teaching is truly about the students, I cannot afford not to challenge any research-less claims that will be implemented in the classrooms. Even though this gradual acceptance of educational research will damage egos and probably shift the education standards and our way of teaching those standards, it must happen for the benefit of our students and, in effect, the future of our country.

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