How Mark Zuckerberg is Helping the Fight For Brain Science in Education

NEUROSCIENCE | April 3, 2020

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  • Serving the whole child 

  • Practice what you preach, educators

  • Focus on what works and what is proven

 

Before we get into this blog post I want to preface by saying that all of this information and inspiration came from a blog we read over at Education Week Teacher. It’s about the new partnership between the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and Neuroteach Global (an online Professional Development platform created by the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning). If you’d like to follow along with what we previously read you can find that blog post here

 

Serving The Whole Child 

Okay for anyone out there that doesn’t know who Mark Zuckerberg is, he started a small social media platform called Facebook. Important for the rest of the story? Probably not, but we don’t like to keep any readers guessing here. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a philanthropic initiative that serves a specific goal in the field of education, serving the “whole child.” This is a familiar goal to most of our DMA blog readers. Here at DMA we work to help kids become the best versions of themselves and it’s why utilizing the data that brain science gives us is so important. Your brain and learning tendencies stretch far beyond the classroom. 

 

Practice What You Preach, Educators.

According to Bror Saxberg, the vice president of learning science at CZI, there is plenty of data that gives way to new initiatives for how teachers can learn how to teach better to an assortment of learning styles. “There's a ton of human development research and learning science that gives great insights into how to better support student and educator learning,” But, Bror also says that “we don't really widely reflect those results in how we educate students or even in how we train teachers." And from the average point of view, he’s right. Essentially what CZI is saying here is that our current education model doesn’t reflect the information that we’ve been able to understand thanks to research into how the brain functions. Put simply, our education system is not practicing what it preaches. 

 

Focus On What Works And What Is Proven

So how do we get better? By focusing our time and resources on scientifically proven methods that we know can help further develop our teachers and in turn our students. CZI is partnering up with Neuroteach Global to donate $1 million to support the development of teacher professional-learning in neuroscience. Neuroteach Global offers online mini-lessons for free but also offers 1, 3 and 12 hour training courses that result in mind, brain and education certifications. As part of the training course, teachers are expected to use the concepts that they learn with their students in the classroom and report back their results for feedback with their online coaches. The cost isn’t too expensive with the longest training course costing around $400. 

 

The goal for Neuroteach Global is to help teachers understand and apply educational neuroscience in the classroom. Part of CZI’s grant will go towards subsidizing some districts participating in the program’s first track. This way more teachers will be able to receive the training for free and get to apply the results in their classrooms. Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, CZI and Neuroteach Global, we are seeing some important players take major action in an education industry that needs an overhaul. 

 

Earlier we talked about practicing what you preach. We know science can verify that there are currently better learning models that are not being widely used. Fixing this by aiming to solve the root of the problem is exactly what the action of Neuroteach Global and CZI facilitates. Understanding that teachers need to be better equipped takes a reallocation of resources and efforts. By focusing on only proven methods, backed by science and data, it becomes a much narrower focus as to what is actually working in classrooms while allowing neuro research to continue to explore other possible future methods. 

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