I watched this video today on how there is a lot of rubbish claimed in the name of neuroscience
Molly Crockett is a neuroscientist and she would like us to beware of bogus claims made in the name of her field. She tells how she was part of a study on serotonin and how it may affect how people react when they are treated unfairly. This study ended up as newspaper headlines such as “Cheese sandwiches help you make better decisions”. People love headlines like these. In fact people are more likely to trust products and the claims they make if they have a picture of a brain on them.
Well, people are stupid in their wish to believe shoddy scientific claims. At least I work in a profession where we avoid believing the latest easy headline.
But of course teachers and educationalists and members of the Ministry of Education all like to jump on a band wagon and think they have the panacea to all ills of learning in the classroom (visual, kinaesthetic and auditory anyone?)
Last month I was at a talk given about how to teach a better lesson. A clever looking triangle within a wheel within another wheel was handed out as a resource. We were informed how this lesson planning system would help us teach a better lesson and how it would help us get a better OFSTED grade as a result. irI googled the system name and then the group that promotes it. Turns out it is a private company interested in selling its services and advertises itself on the basis of how many lessons are graded good or better and not on the impact of using their system on the pupils’ learning. In other words there is no proven scientific value to the work. But they do make money for their shareholders. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but a company’s desire for profit is no basis for me to change the way I plan and deliver my lessons.
So I find the advice at the end of the talk (from about 10:30 onward if you can be bothered to watch the whole thing) absolutely vital. ….
“We cant let overblown claims distract resources away from the real science that is playing a much longer game….. If someone tries to sell you something with a brain on it don’t just take them at their word: ask the tough questions, ask to see the evidence, ask for the part of the story that is not being told. the answers shouldn’t be simple because the brain isn’t simple.”