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A new educational challenge: How does a child’s brain work?

new educational challenges

In this moment of reflection and change, Neuroeducation, a new and relatively unknown field to teachers, is gaining importance and providing educators with the necessary information about children’s brains and their functioning.

What is neuroeducation?

Neuroeducation or neurodidactics is a new vision of education based on teaching strategies and educational technologies that focus on brain functioning. This relatively new area combines neuroscience, psychology and education with the goal of optimizing the teaching and learning process. It is therefore essential to know and understand its function and contribution to the educational system (Mora, 2017).

Salvador Martínez (2017), professor of human anatomy and embryology at Universidad Miguel Hernández and director at the Instituto de Neurociencia (Institute of Neuroscience) in Alicante (Spain), considers education as acting up on the brain; the brain is the receiver of education since everything we think, feel and perceive involves the brain. In every child, we find a brain with special characteristics and functions that will condition the learning process, since behavior is completely determined by the brain. Therefore, education begins to make sense when educators look at a child and not only see a heart and soul, but a brain maturing and changing. In this manner, educators are responsible for teaching and motivating children to develop all their abilities, transform their conduct and behavior, and acquire new learning, critical, since learning is responsible for creating new neural path ways and synaptic plasticity appears to be the basis for all learning processes. Therefore, neurons are responsible for forming new connections—numerous during childhood—when children have a significant learning experience, that is, when they develop and transform their neural circuits and adapt to new learning environments as a result of neuroplasticity.

Scientific discoveries and changes in education:”Learning by doing”

Scientific discoveries in the field of neuroscience have contributed to the transformation and modification of educational methods. According to Gamo (2016) and Guillén (2017), experts in educational neuroscience, it is essential to teach based on neural processes. Therefore, it provides a methodological approach based on executive functions that is focused on the activation of learning, the creation and consolidation of content and the evaluation of this process, in the context of emotions and social relations. By taking into account their abilities and capabilities, children should learn by doing because this serves to ensure the creation and restructuring of neural connections to achieve their full learning potential. Children need to be motivated and develop their attention and memory skills; by keeping these factors in mind, their learning is guaranteed. However, in most educational centers, educators follow a methodological approach focused only on memorizing information, which is neither relevant nor motivating, without taking into account the memory and reasoning processes that the child must follow to internalize this knowledge, leading to an absolute failure in learning.

Family and neuroeducation

In a familial environment, Álvaro Bilbao (2015), neuropsychologist and PhD in Health Psychology, emphasizes the need to guide parents to learn about their children’s neural functions and to be able to take part in educating in an informed manner, that is, to try and modify traditional upbringing—based on absolute affection—by educating and encouraging their intellectual traits in concert with their emotions.

Thus, the family—a determining factor in a child’s neural connectivity—is the most important context for the child’s development; families, therefore, can contribute to their children’s brain and emotional maturity by means of proper nutrition and rest, promotion of physical activity, sports and creative activities, and by providing a positive environment of trust in which they can apply their knowledge to reality (Mora, 2017).

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