Brain Based Early Learning Programs: Education, Society, And National Policy

2319 words - 9 pages

The science of neurobiology and technology of brain-imaging are rapidly advancing the understanding of cognition: how people think and learn. Brain-imaging techniques allow access into the mysterious mechanisms of the brain, and it is now possible to observe what occurs in the brain “as it performs tasks such as solving a math problem, reading a book, or improvising a melody” (Limb). This neurobiological research also indicates that, in the brain, emotion and intelligence are intricately synchronized processes (“Social-Emotional”). Brain-based learning programs apply this principle of simultaneous cognitive and social-emotional development by emphasizing how the brain learns innately, and are based on what is currently known about the “physical structure and function” of the human brain at varying stages of development (Wilson). Scientists and educators agree that this educational model has proven to be most effective in the earliest, formative years of the brain, priming the brain both for learning and social relationships. There is significant and ample evidence documenting that early childhood education can generate substantial gains in children's learning and development. However, long-term advantages are predominantly recognized only in high-quality early childhood education programs (Swartout-Corbeil). Consequently, the availability of high-quality programs is limited, and high-quality programs are usually not affordable for most families (Swartout-Corbeil). Brain-based early learning programs represent the definitive in early childhood curriculum, and mandating for these cutting-edge programs on a national level has the potential to produce not only smarter and more creative learners, but also a society of compassionate, cooperative, and self-sufficient citizens.
A major element of brain-based early learning programs is the development of executive function skills. In the journal American Psychologist, Dr. Clancy Blair, professor of applied psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, addresses the critical impact of this aspect of development. Describing how executive function skills control the successful execution of all mental, physical, and functional processes we engage in (Blair), these abilities determine “mental functions associated with the ability to engage in the purposeful, organized, strategic, self-regulated, goal directed behavior” (McCloskey), a construct of behavior identified as intrinsic motivation.
In a study to measure infant working memory involving fifty eight-month-old infants, associations between “experience-dependent activity in the brain and executive function in young children” have been submitted as measurable analysis (Bell, “A Psychobiological”; Bell and Fox; Calkins and Bell). The results demonstrated connections between EEG coherence representing frontal lobe and subsequent activity in the brain “and the ability to tolerate delay in...

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