Neuroscience and Education

This publication unites two of the Economic and Social Research Council’s principal concerns. One is for education. The Teaching and Learning Research Programme is the ESRC’s largest research initiative. It is dedicated to performing excellent research that leads to better education for people at all stages of life. From its inception, it has promoted discussion of the link between education and neuroscience. In addition, the ESRC is one of the UK’s main supporters of psychology research. Our programmes reflect an awareness that our knowledge of the brain is growing in power, and will be relevant to areas of social science such as economic and political behaviour as well as to education.

In this publication, the latest in a series of TLRP Commentaries, researchers supported by the TLRP point to a range of issues at the junction between neuroscience and education. As they say, the brain is the principal organ involved in learning. It is natural that our increased knowledge of its working can inform educational practice. But as they also make clear, attempts to introduce neuroscience approaches into the classroom have to date been of mixed quality. Often they have relied too little upon research evidence and too much on impressive-sounding but scientifically questionable formulae.

The authors leave us in no doubt that these are early days in this story. Because of the rapid progress now being observed throughout neuroscience, some approaches that are now in use may soon be seen to be invalid. Others that are now used will become better-corroborated. And unexpected approaches may emerge from research now under way.

The full report can be downloaded here: Neuroscience Commentary