Monday, January 16, 2012

And a Little Slug Shall Lead Them

Don't you love it when oddball, seemingly-disparate science has application to students and education?

For years, teachers have exhorted their students not to cram for tests, begging them to instead follow the less flashy practice of reviewing in bits all the way up to the Big Day. Turns out, there is a biological basis  for this advice, as demonstrated by sea slugs. Slugs were shocked and then shocked again later, and scientists checked them to see if they remembered who did the shocking.

Seems like an odd way to study brain chemistry (and poor slugs!), but

Better ways to learn based on brain science would have enormous ramifications for educational practices. "It's not going to be an easy direction to follow because it means a lot of painstaking and detailed work to understand the biochemistry of learning," Byrne says. "But I think what it demonstrates is that if you have that information you may be able to make some big advancements in improving learning abilities by being in sync with the underlying molecular dynamics. Rather than taking cognitive enhancement drugs, you could have better training procedures."

I am not sure that a student who routinely crams for tests will be swayed by brain science, but the study itself reaffirms that acquiring knowledge is a slow, steady build not a hasty stacking. Perhaps fitting that a slug would lead the way.

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