Help me inform my teaching with books on childhood brain development
April 2, 2014 2:15 PM   Subscribe

What books/resources on childhood brain development will best inform my work as a teacher and curriculum writer for young learners? (explanation after the jump)

I am an educator and curriculum writer for students in early elementary to middle school (roughly ages 8-14). The latest thinking in education is such that students are being pushed toward "higher order thinking skills" earlier and earlier in their educational career.

While I want to challenge students, I often feel like I don't have enough background on the types of knowledge and skills that are developmentally appropriate for young learners. Sometimes I think I am being pushed to challenge students in ways they are just not developmentally ready for. To that end, what books or other resources can I read to better inform myself on child brain development as it pertains to education?

Questions I struggle with:
-Is it ever "too early" to build certain types of critical thinking skills?
-Is there a developmental "sweet spot" for language and vocabulary acquisition that educators should be capitalizing on?
-How does brain development affect the ability to draw inferences?
-Are children of a certain age limited in their ability to think rationally? What do we know about how rational thinking and problem-solving develop?
Thanks in advance for your answers and advice!
posted by chickenandwine to Education (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I asked a similar question previously. There were not many answers, but you may find some of them helpful. I'll be interested to see if there's more this time.
posted by alms at 2:23 PM on April 2, 2014

This really depends on who you ask, to a large extent.

Howard Gardner, Vygotsky, Piaget and Montessori will all give you different answers.

As an educator I agree. It is a struggle to create lessons for all types of learners.

Honestly, the best answer I can give is this: teachers need to take time to get to know their kids, to understand how each kid learns. You need to create lessons that appeal to all types of thinkers and all types of abilities.

There's no one right answer about how to challenge students because every student is different.
posted by kinetic at 3:14 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Brain Rules by Medina.
posted by cephalopodcast at 4:26 AM on April 3, 2014

I can't give you books necessarily, because a lot of what you're looking for is something that comes with experience and no book can adequately prepare you to help students at each of their levels.

How far can you push students and their critical thinking? To the point of perplexity but not overwhelm/shutdown. I think that all kids, whether or not they do well in academic settings, can find something to be curious about.

When it comes to making inferences and rational judgements, there is actually a lack of neural connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Here are some resources I used in my English 9 class about brain development and education. Much of it is based on the work of Carol Dweck and Growth Mindset/Fixed Mindset. If you can do anything for your students, it's helping them believe that intelligence is not fixed - it is like a muscle that can be developed.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:22 AM on April 3, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks very much for the thoughts and suggestions. I've picked up a copy of Brain Rules per cephalopodcast's recommendation - it's tremendously useful!
posted by chickenandwine at 11:58 AM on April 6, 2014

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