A Brain Based Model for School Reform

A Brain Based Model for School Reform



Norma Morris
Country Day Montessori School
Executive Director
Email address: cdmschool@aol.com

A Brain Based Model for School Reform

Over the past decade, a body of seminal evidence, collected from education, neuroscience,

psychology and medicine, has converged to address how the human brain grows and learns.

From MRI and PET scans, to studies in the field of developmental psychology and psychiatry,

we have accumulated a number of methods to measure and thus to understand the function of the

human brain and body in relation to learning. Yet, while on the edge of the 21st century, the

educational systems implemented in the vast majority of traditional schools remain tied to

antiquated behavioral models, originating in the mid-19th century.

The emergence of these models coincided with the age of efficiency, industrialization

and immigration, which thus presented an increased demand for mass education or public

schooling, both in Europe and North America. The one-room schoolhouse, with multi-aged

students in a single classroom and individualized lessons governed by a local school board, gave

way to the school as a “factory” model where schools were described as “plants,” the children

were referred to as “raw materials” and the teachers coined “mid-level managers”.1 This

ideology, though not without its effective points, functioned primarily to validate a veiled

educational trilogy: the base—the school and its students—naturally upheld the apex: the

uncontested teacher. Explicitly, the student was a means to an end. And yet the phantom of this

age-old system is quite visible in nearly every school in today’s system.

We have inherited an educational system designed in the early part
of this century…[This system’s] espoused curriculum and teaching...

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