Neuroscience

Misusing Neuroscience in Public Policy

Misusing Neuroscience in Public Policy

By on Oct 25, 2017 in Blog, Early Childhood, Neuroscience

The Telegraph published an article Monday -- These two brains both belong to three-year-olds, so why is one so much bigger? -- with the picture below. The article originally appeared on its site in 2012. This recent re-publication means it's making the rounds again on social media. It was even shared by a well-known "parenting expert," which goes to show why an...

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Montessori And The Development Of Executive Functions

Montessori And The Development Of Executive Functions

By on Apr 11, 2017 in Blog, Montessori, Montessori White Papers, Neuroscience, Volume 1

Executive functions are important cognitive skills necessary for managing our behavior, adapting to changes, learning new skills, overcoming old habits, and engaging in creative or “outside of the box” thinking. They are essential for all goal-directed activities. They develop from early childhood through early adulthood1, and numerous studies have explored the various ways in which executive functions might be improved throughout development.

Attending a Montessori school can produce significant, long-lasting improvements in a child’s executive functions. Compared to children randomly assigned to traditional classrooms, those who attended a quality Montessori school showed stronger executive functions at ages six [2] and age twelve.[3] Researchers investigating the characteristics of innovative entrepreneurs found that a disproportionate number of them had attended Montessori schools.[4] These results show that Montessori can produce meaningful, long-lasting changes in the formation of essential cognitive capabilities, and lead to better life outcomes.

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Born to Move – Part 1: Movement and Cognition

Born to Move – Part 1: Movement and Cognition

By on Apr 11, 2017 in Blog, Education, Montessori, Montessori White Papers, Movement & Cognition, Neuroscience, Volume 2

The Pink Tower is an iconic Montessori Sensorial material that helps children to (among other things) discern the differences in weights and sizes as each cube is carried to a working mat to be rebuilt. Even the process of weaving one’s way through the busy classroom, cube in hand, while avoiding chairs, tables, toes of other children, and others’ work mats is an important part of this material because it trains the child to move carefully and with purpose.

But all of this movement, from carrying the cubes to navigating one’s way around the classroom, is not just essential to developing good coordination – it’s essential to developing higher-level thinking.

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Reading and the Brain – Part 1: Developing the Reading Circuit

Reading and the Brain – Part 1: Developing the Reading Circuit

By on Apr 10, 2017 in Blog, Education, Montessori, Montessori White Papers, Neuroscience, Volume 2

During my tenure as head of a Montessori school, parents often asked questions related to reading. A common concern was, “My child doesn’t know her abc’s! Why doesn’t she know her abc’s?”

Because we all grew up learning to sing our abc’s and few of us remember how we actually learned to read, we assume that naming the letters of the alphabet is evidence that a child “knows her letters.” In actuality, it is only evidence that she knows the names of the letters, which actually doesn’t help her learn to read. In fact, knowing the names of letters without knowing their corresponding sounds may actually delay reading.[1]

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The Real Reason Students Shouldn’t Sit in Class

The Real Reason Students Shouldn’t Sit in Class

By on Mar 31, 2017 in Blog, Education, Montessori, Movement & Cognition, Neuroscience

Originally published in the Huffington Post.   A recent article in the New York Times discussed why children should be given opportunities for movement during class. I wholeheartedly agree with this proposition – but not for the reasons stated. Movement is far more important than a means to enable children to attentively sit for long periods of time. Educators...

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Neuroskeptic on Media Neurons: Serotonin and Oxytocin

Neuroskeptic on Media Neurons: Serotonin and Oxytocin

By on Mar 26, 2015 in Blog, Neuroscience

This morning I listened to science writer John Horgan interview Neuroskeptic, one of my favorite neuroscience bloggers. You can hear the entire hour-long interview at BloggingHeads, but I want to highlight the 7-minute section in which Neuroskeptic discusses serotonin and oxytocin. This section illustrates so nicely a) how neuroscientific research can become overly...

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