, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 135-143
Date: 20 May 2011

Neuroethics, Neuroeducation, and Classroom Teaching: Where the Brain Sciences Meet Pedagogy

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The popularization of neuroscientific ideas about learning—sometimes legitimate, sometimes merely commercial—poses a real challenge for classroom teachers who want to understand how children learn. Until teacher preparation programs are reconceived to incorporate relevant research from the neuro- and cognitive sciences, teachers need translation and guidance to effectively use information about the brain and cognition. Absent such guidance, teachers, schools, and school districts may waste time and money pursuing so called “brain-based” interventions that lack a firm basis in research. Meanwhile, the success of our schools will continue to be narrowly defined by achievement standards that ignore knowledge of the neural and cognitive processes of learning. To achieve the goals of neuroeducation, its proponents must address unique ethical issues that neuroeducation raises for five different groups of individuals: a) practicing teachers, b) neuroscience researchers whose work could inform education, c) publishers and the popular media, d) educational policy-makers, and e) university-level teacher educators. We suggest ways in which these ethical challenges can be met and provide a model for teacher preparation that will enable teachers themselves to translate findings from the neuro-and cognitive sciences and use legitimate research to inform how they design and deliver effective instruction.