New research in neuroscience validates long-held theories of effective teaching.
Those of us who have worked in schools for a while have watched a lot of programs, theories, and innovations come and go. Many experienced teachers, frustrated with the pendulum swings, have adopted a wait and see, or "this too will pass," attitude. But I wonder whether too often we have eliminated very effective practices in favor of the newer innovations on the block.
Participants in my workshops frequently reinforce this thought as they point out or ask about the connections between Madeline Hunter's Elements of Effective Instruction (1982) and current brain research. I can frequently point out how neuroscience research has validated one or another of the practices Hunter espoused. And it's not just Hunter's work that participants ask about, but that of John Dewey and Alfred North Whitehead in the early 1930s; Jerome Bruner's writings in the 1960s; and the findings from Jere Brophy, Barak Rosenshine, and others whose work we studied under the heading of Effective Teaching research. These studies focused on what teachers did that resulted in increased student learning. We seldom hear much about these findings anymore, but are they really outdated or have we been too quick to look for something new? Is it possible that the effective teaching strategies of 20 years ago are still relevant today and that we can look to current cognitive and neuroscience research to help us understand why they are?
Setting the Stage for Learning