A BRAIN-BASED MODEL FOR SCHOOL REFORM
Country Day Montessori School
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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...