Programming the Brain: Educational Neuroscience Perspective – Pedagogical Practices and Study Skills for Enhanced Learning and Metacognition
How we should teach what we teach is a debate that has been going on for far longer than I have been alive. There are countless methods, each with their own adherents and each with some basis in truth. Not being a teacher myself, I cannot speak with much authority to the value of any given method; the most I can do is to judge as a layperson and point out where I think some methods may be right or wrong.
That being said, I was intrigued by Dr. Chandana Watagodakumbura’s suggestions in Programming the Brain. The book itself is excellently laid out, opening with an explanation of the structure of the human brain and how those structures may relate to learning. Anyone without a background in neuroscience will want to take this part of the book slowly, as the author gives very technical descriptions that might be lost on someone who is only casually interested in the subject. Pop science this is not. However, with some patience and a handy reference like Wikipedia, even a layperson can get a great deal out of the first section.
The real meat of the book comes in the latter section, when the author explains how this knowledge would be best applied. This is probably the section that will be of most interest to people picking up the book, whether they are educators looking for another way to teach or simply someone, like me, who is interested in theories of education. Overall, his reasoning is sound, though he relies very heavily on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which, while that is a strong basis that the author builds on skillfully, is not something that everyone agrees with. Anyone in the anti-Maslow camp would be best served to look elsewhere.
In short, while this book is one laypeople may struggle somewhat to get through, I think it may prove to be anywhere from informative to invaluable to educators.