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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ISTE Keynote Highlights- what does the brain have to do with thinking/learning?

Great presentation by Dr. John J. Medina, molecular biologist, who laughingly wondered by ISTE would select someone from his field as they are not well known for exciting keynotes.  With great humor and energy, he made the following points:
1.  We know very little about how the brain works.
2.  Mythbuster alert:  what we do know is not always right - for example, we do not only use 10% of our brains, there is not a left brain, right brain dichotomy.
3.  Every brain is wired differently from every other brain and learns in ways unique to the wiring.
4. Every brain is wired differently from every other brain and learns in ways unique to the wiring. (Yes, I put that twice because it is important)
5.  What is obvious to you is obvious to you.
6.  Theory of mind (google ToM) can be active or passive and is sometimes referred to as empathy.  It is the one characteristic that can determine is a teacher will be successful.  It is the ability to look at a child and know that you have confused them or excited them, etc.  Can we teach a computer to do this?  Would we want a computer to do this?
7.  The emotional stability of the home is the biggest predictor of academic success.
8.  If he were to design a school based on what we know- students would wear uniforms (and they would be gym clothes) because it has been shown that aerobic exercise increases learning.
9.  His school would have a full aerobic program with pockets of time inbetween for learning (ironic - we do just the opposite now).
10.  Men are from Mars, women are from Venus
11.  There is a chemical called Kryptochrome which is the guardian of our sleep schedule.  Blue light (often given off by our electronics) can disrupt the chemical which may disrupt our sleep schedule.  This has the potential for problems for some of our students.
12.  What did I miss.......

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