Neuroscience and education: The New Dialogue

London Festival of Education
Blue Room – Institute of Education
Saturday 28th February 2015

Panel: Michal Thomas, Richard Newton Chance with Jeremy Dudman-Jones as Chair.

A wide ranging, mediated discussion allowing everyone interested in education to delve further into the potential impacts of the growing academic field of Educational Neuroscience; from the potential and actual impacts on Learning and Teaching; to the increasingly relevant opportunities for school based action research, combining the expertise of teachers and research academics. LSE

Dialogue is required between professionals from education and neuroscience according to Richard Newton – Chance (Association of School and College Leaders). Teachers need to understand neuroscience as it plays a key role in how we learn.

Apparently we are social animals; the way we behave in meetings depends on the competitiveness of the environment that we are in. We desire the admiration of our social peers. Kids are the same. Teachers want lessons that inspire, challenge, engage and create opportunities for reflection. However intrinsic motivation is at the heart of learning and autonomy and choice enables learning.

So how do we engage children with learning if their agenda is different from that of the teachers?


In order to appreciate that motivation is at the heart of learning, we need to develop an understanding of how the learning mechanism works. Michael Thomas (Professor of Neuroscience Birkbeck, University, London) argues that some of us see the mind like a desktop computer! That is to say it has a short term memory, long term memory, storage and output. This is too technical and there is not enough about emotional attachment in this model. In addition the brain is not like a computer for the following reasons –  it forgets, it has plasticity, it has the capacity to build on previous learning and experiences are transferrable.

Children cannot just attend lessons, learn and churn out information. There are a range of factors that might impact on their ability to effectively learn and achieve. Understanding neuroscience and the importance of a secure attachment on brain development and learning will help teachers to unravel how to change bad behaviour, motivate and enhance learning. Teachers in their role as educators should welcome the ‘marriage’ with neuroscience.

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  1. Link to all Tiemo’s LFE 2015 reviews – 28th February 2015
  2. London Festival of Education programme 2015 – LFE
  3. Education debates – Tiemo Talk of the Town reviews
  4. Neuroscience related Tiemo blogs

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