Friday, June 27, 2008

Memory and Learning

We spend a lot time as educator helping people learn. What we are really trying to get them to do is remember stuff. Remember to turn in their assignments, remember the times tables, remember to put their name on their paper, and even more important things. We focus our efforts on pedagogy, effective strategies, best practices and enriching learning experiences. I have often said (with full credit to Dr. Harry Wong whom I am paraphrasing) that educators are doing brain surgery without scalpels.

Recent developments in the field of epigenetics actually confirm this and give worthwhile insights to good teaching practices. In Scientific American Mind June/July 2008 an article entitled Unmasking Memory Genes by Amir Levine details recent research that points to external events changing the expression of genes and altering Memory abilities. Various studies in mice and sea slugs show that certain chemicals and environments can actually stimulate the memory. Enriching, interesting and novel environments for mice with memory disorders allowed them to improve their ability to remember (especially negative events such as being shocked)

Fascinating article and it encouraged me to think about the type of environment I am building with and for learners.

Preview the article here

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