Watagodakumbura (Educational Neuroscience/Central Queensland University; Education from a Deeper and Multidisciplinary Perspective, 2013) argues that advances in education haven’t kept pace with advances in neuroscience.
The author builds on the subject of his first book by taking the latest research on neurology and learning and extending it a bold step further—to teaching. He opens with the notion that all human brains are unique and malleable, to the extent that every person has his or her own unique way of learning, and that we continue to learn new things throughout our lives. Education, he argues, works counter to such neurological individuality by forcing students to conform to rigid teaching and testing structures, which may turn off even the most gifted students. Part I sets the stage for his thesis with a meticulously detailed primer on how brain anatomy relates to cognition and learning. Part II surveys modern educational techniques through the lens of neuroscience. These sections offer academic rigor and complex sentence structures that may confuse some readers who lack a formal science background. Yet, by the end of Part II, the author’s prose become clearer as he makes an impassioned plea for the acceptance of neurodiversity in education. From there, Part III brings to bear the latest neuroscience research on existing educational practices. Teachers who are interested in deepening their knowledge of alternative educational methods may therefore benefit from skimming the first two parts and reading the third more carefully. Overall, though, Watagodakumbura makes a convincing case that everyone is wired differently for learning, and children who are taught in ways that allow for this fact will blossom intellectually. The book raises intriguing questions about what it truly means to be different in an educational system that demands conformity.
A sometimes-difficult but thoroughly researched work that offers a fresh angle on improving education.