Educators often know little about the organ they work with most – but change is coming

Published:15 April 2020

Education about the brain and the concept of neuroplasticity is extraordinarily powerful for students.

Most educators have not been exposed to relevant neuroscientific ‘brain-based’ knowledge and skills in their preservice training, nor in subsequent professional development.

However, that is about to change, according to CQUniversity Professor of Brain Based Education Ken Purnell, who is introducing a new Master of Educational Neuroscience that will commence in July this year, along with a range of associated short courses to assist with teacher professional development.

“Educators are learning how to help students challenge their fixed mindset and unhelpful habits and thoughts,” he says.

“This is all due to knowledge of the brain and how it learns from experiences and it being naturally quite plastic and not fixed.

“The brain’s very form and function changes. Indeed, the brain that you went to sleep with last night is not the same brain that you woke up with this morning!”

Professor Purnell says education about the brain and the concept of neuroplasticity is extraordinarily powerful for students.

“Psychology researchers were quick to see the benefits of the new brain scanning techniques and educational experts have done so more recently,” he says.

“The growth of related research has been exponential, and we now know much more about the brain from the past 30 years than the rest of human history put together.

“Knowing about our ‘powerhouse’ – the brain, and how the brain and body are ‘one’ (only differentiated in anatomy and similar books and resources), is fundamental to teaching and learning.

“Sleep, nutrition, movement and brain-friendly learning experiences matter in creating and maintaining optimal learning environments.”

In addition to the new postgraduate degree, CQUniversity is offering new short courses in Educational Neuroscience which are available via the Centre for Professional Development. They include:

Professor Purnell’s latest article on Educational Neuroscience appears in the April issue of a prestigious international publication – Think Tank – alongside the views of Professor Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa of Mind, Brain, Education [MBE] Science at Harvard University.