Teaching: Natural Human Ability

teacherbrain

Reposted from the Seattle Times:

Scientists have a well-developed picture of how learning works in the brain, which was summarized in the seminal 1999 publication “How People Learn” by the National Research Council. But when Vanessa Rodriguez, a former New York City middle school humanities teacher, tried to find similar studies about how teaching works in the brain, she found almost nothing.

In her new book, “The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education,” Rodriguez and co-author Michelle Fitzpatrick, chart a path toward understanding teaching in all kinds of daily situations, not just in classrooms. They argue that teaching is more than a job, it’s an evolved human ability that emerges early in childhood — just watch kids huddled over a smart phone teaching each other how to play the latest video game.

“The human brain has been designed to learn,” Rodriguez said. “What I’m saying is that it’s also been designed to teach.” She’s also adamant about what teaching is not: unscrewing a student’s empty head and pouring in knowledge. Likewise, teaching is not just a set of best practices that can be poured into a teacher’s empty head.

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