The Teaching Brain challenges widely accepted theories of teaching and offers a unique idea based on a simple yet empowering truth: we are all teachers. This book draws on the science of human development to redefine teaching as an evolutionary cognitive skill that develops in all people over time. The book marshals a wealth of research and experience to construct an entirely innovative framework for thinking about, talking about, and supporting this essential social endeavor.
“We would never think of the bonding of a newborn with parents as a unilateral experience, yet, as so clearly illuminated in The Teaching Brain, we’ve been complacent in failing to identify the profound interactions between the teaching and learning brains. As the authors identify the dynamic, interactive system created by both student and teacher, a gap is filled in the neuroscience and cognitive science of learning. This book provides valuable guidance on generating a synchronous flow in the classroom.” -Judy Willis, Neurologist, teacher, and author of How Your Child Learns Best
The teaching brain is a new concept that mirrors the complex, dynamic, and context-dependent nature of the learning brain. In this article, I use the structure of the human nervous system and its sensing, processing, and responding components as a framework for a re-conceptualized teaching system. This teaching system is capable of responses on an instinctual level (e.g., spinal cord teaching) as well as higher order student-centered teaching and even more complex teaching brain teaching. At the most complex level the teacher and student engage in a synchronistic teaching flow that achieves the optimal teaching and learning experience.
I am excited to present this first installment of a new series in MBE that explores the teaching brain. The goal of the series is to facilitate a transition in the lens on teaching from an empty vessel to a phenomenon as dynamic, variable and context-dependent as learning. This transformation will likely push all of us to reevaluate our understanding and research on teaching. Over the coming year, each issue will provide several articles that seek to shed light on a different aspect of this burgeoning new area of research. This issue opens the series with a piece designed to lay out the conceptual framework and evidence base for a new way to think about teaching: the teaching brain. Next, Michael Chazan gives an archaeological grounding for the existence of teaching in the earliest ancestors of Homo sapiens. Sidney Strauss and Margalit Ziv then describes how teaching is a fundamental human cognitive ability. Together, these articles begin to create a paradigm shift in the definition of teaching. We look forward to an exciting journey.