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ISTE 2011 Keynote John Medina: Brain Rules

The session began with ISTE President, Holly Jobe, sharing her vision, including authenticity, and student centered learning. I was impressed with her philosophy, and her background with the Pennsylvania Classrooms for the Future program. I think ISTE has made a great choice in leadership!

This year's keynote was John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, and author of Brain Rules. I first heard of Dr. Medina a few years ago through Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen Website, then I bought the book.I blogged about his ideas about multi-tasking, here.
Medina talked much faster than I could take notes on (Still not used to typing on the iPad), so I will share the Twitter feed here of the keynote for important quotes that were shared:

How does formal neuroscience apply to Ed tech or education in general?
He says we don't know!
Still, certain mythologies have evolved:
  • We only use 10% of our brain's capacity
  • There are people who are Left brain dominant and others who are Right Brain dominant
  • Women from Venus, Men from mars

Wiring Considerations!
See exact same things and have two completely different reactions.
We know very little about how the brain works, but we have uncovered the...
Evolutionary performance envelope! Our Brains evolved to do 5 things:
  1. Solve problems
  2. Survival
  3. Live Outdoors
  4. Pay attention to meteorological events
  5. Complete tasks while on the move

Thus, we have designed a space for learning directly opposed to what the brain was designed to do!

We need to intellectually start over!
The focus of his talk was Brain Rule #4 Every brain is wired differently
Part 1: A question that made me mad and how I tried to answer it
Q: Teacher training is the single most important factor...Is there adiagnostic rule to weed out good teachers?
Medina on learning
You need a data base and the ability to improvise on it.
He gave a great example of fluid intelligence

Growth of the database is cummulative
Future learning depends on past acquisition
If comprehension not engaged, there is diminished capacity. His example was college kids having to take HS Algebra because of gaps in their learning.

What might a good teacher look like?
Ready knowledge of the gaps in learning- is it measurable

Part 2: Theory of mind, social prejudices
The ability to peer inside someones head and understand rewards and punishments
The abiliy to understand that people have different rewards and punishments what is obvious to you is obvious to you!
If you understand this, you can know when students are bewildered or happy. This may be a great predictor of pre-service teacher success.

Questions from the audience included:
What are the implications to teaching to the test?
Medina said that most kids can spot when the teacher is doing this.
Emotional stability of the home is the biggest predictor of academic success
Executive function increases the most when guided aerobic workouts occurred daily! We should be handing out school uniforms to every kid, and they should be...gym uniforms!
-Has technology changed kids brains? Yes!
Is Google making us stupid? Yes it will change you but the long term effects... WE DON'T KNOW!
Blue light into your eyes cyiptochrome, changes sleep. That is all we know!

Right now, the blue light is hitting my eyes as I type this. I'll leave my final thoughts for another post...

UPDATE: ISTE has posted the full video here on Youtube!


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