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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thinking about education: the school of the future

I've never had one of those ideas that worth a million dollars, but if one day I have one, I guess it would begin to build it with what I want to sell or share. That's why if one day the experts of education and learning will be seated to build a new paradigm, I think the first step would be to find out what everyone has in common, that,  can make successful the new paradigm globally.

I think if I want my educational idea succeed, I would try to cover a large market, in this case I want the whole world (literally, the world) can have the opportunity to learn without discrimination, without being labeled as stupid or genius. I think those labels, instead of helping, kill futures CEOs . I want the children can have happy childhoods and become successful adults. It's a simple goal, right?.

So I would sit down to analyze everything what I learned with so many discussion groups about education. The most reactionary group and I think with best proposals is Learning without Frontiers, the group advocates for a education with no walls based on technology and innovation. But something is missing.

First, think: what's what around the world all people have in common?

It is neither money nor technology, for example  Latin American countries are far from economic competition (World Economic Forum, 2011), and in more than one occasion I said that education does not require money or speeches, so I wish to continue being consistent with my ideals.

The technology comes sometimes with a delay of years to countries with less recourses, and it is natural for families to think first to feed their children than in a technological toy that will open the door of education.

Certainly there is a cultural barrier, provided by the history of each place, customs and culture and must be added the language barrier that makes some have more advantages over others. Since children of 6 years old who have never taken a pencil, to children who born with the remote in their hand.

So if we continue to thinking a little, so that all human beings around the world have in common is a brain.

And it's not necessary a brain with high capacities, ultimately education seeks to provide that window of opportunity. Besides the exposure to the environment (including cultural influences) that creates cytoarchitectural differences, and are those cytoarchitectural differences which allow each person to be more suitable for certain tasks (Dzib Goodin, 2011a).

Perhaps the only complication that could impede to learn are those syndromes that are involved in the process of memory, because  is known that are memory and learning are closely linked, but beyond that, all brains, even those effected development disorders can be adapted, but learn in different ways.

From the evolutionary point of view, learning is necessary for the survival of the species and is present in all of them, under the principle of survival of the fittest, so it depends on environmental adaptation and vice versa.

Understanding the brain processes in education, helps to define what and how to teach (Dzib Goodin, 2011b), and allows to see the learner from a different perspective.

So based on this basic principle, including the brain in education, it is possible to set out the principles that shape learning.

In a text written for teachers and parents, I listed how the brain learns, from which it can be said that the brain has the urge to learn. Learning regulates systems even before birth, it's not necessary a school or office hours to learn because this allows adaptation to the needs of the environment and ensures that each generation continue developing with new evolutionary advantages (Dzib Goodin, 2011c).

Learning allows the strengthening of neural networks that permit perpetual motion of new learning. Unlike what many psychologists claimed, only a few systems could have critical moments, such as language, movement, and perhaps to a lesser degree vision and hearing (Roman Carboni, Del Rio Grande, Chapel Maestu and Ortiz, 2006; Gage, 2007, Dehaene, Nakamura, Jobert, Kuroki, Ogawa, and Cohen, 2009), but even for these processes should be considered brain plasticity, which will later accept the creation of new networks that delayed repair functions (Cook, 2010).

If you look at the babies, it is obvious that they make several attempts before achieving perfection of movements or language (Hartshorne, 2009), this is something that has forgotten the formal school, but let us see the fun of learning and the need for repetition. Nothing is more gratifying to see the kids doing the same actions over and over again, and as adult e can get  bored, while children ask: do it again and again!, And have you noticed how much children  enjoy doing things?, that's why I think this is another principle of the brain: repetition and joy.

In addition, the brain learns from mistakes, if taught how, of course, even if the mistake is trying to solve an addition, collapsing a multi-million dollar company or mislead the recipient of an email, parses the string of events held, going about our steps and seeks to correct mistakes by learning from them (Roediger III, and Finn, 2010).

And once the brain learns something, will enjoy it and that will cause pleasure or reward immediate as possible, it will to do it again and again and again. This is how persons develop the skill or talent, the continued development of an activity, which will make a super specialized neural network (Forget, Buiatti and Dehaene, 2009). But remember that the geniuses in any area not done in a day, the real experts need many years.

My idea of education see it as try to install a software on any gadget, if the software does not match the system requirements, it is likely that this may not work properly, this has happened to educational models prevailing as it has been said at many educational forums. I think that formal education has pushed their applications regardless of what the system itself can do. Above all, has not taken into account that the system itself is regulated and is able to improve any program.

It is therefore in this sense that the software can not be used in the same way in all alike, every brain is different connections, some more specialized than others (Haier, 2009), but if you want all the same opportunities , you should look at that as an advantage, and then create a flexible software. As well as creating applications for various devices, versions 1, 2, N and N +1 ... Why not create flexible educational proposals?, Especially taking into account the culture, technological advances and innovations. In less than a decade we have moved from laptops to tablets and books to read hypertext. Culture evolves, brain evolves; why is education so boring?.

If you want to create an application of this magnitude, then I think I should ask the question: what is the goal of this application?. It certainly is not the speech that was sold to my generation: if you go to school will be a successful professional and you can make money and be better than your parents. Evolutionarily each new generation will be better than their ancestors (Fox, 2011).

What do we wish at the end of so many years of education?, Do we wish everyone thinking exactly the same?, Well, if you look at successful people, it seems a famous is anyone who dares to break the mold, and all admire him or her for doing things that nobody else can not do, a baseball player, a painter, a musician, a computer whiz or business ... all of them went beyond and against the system.

Then school needs to be creative and diversify. Each educational system is good for a limited group of people that fit the same, but there's a group that does not, and they need another program (Barber and Mourshed, 2007).

Formal education can call them stupid or odd, in a sense they are, but there are examples which show an extraordinary talent that was misunderstood. This is because creativity is an important ingredient in education (Robinson, 2006).

And be creative applies to use  tools, specially talking  about the current  technological age and the worldwide commitment to the use of tablets and Smartphone, but we can not forget the economic and cultural differences. What is the advantage of these tools? They are intuitive. Does not take much to learn to use and each generation of devices are based on brain function, and I think here can mention only some of its features:
They are based on visual processing, are increasingly attractive, sharper images, sound better, more friendly, and do not need a course of 40 hours to use a tablet, as soon as you open the box,  and it jumps almost saying, use me, let's work and learn!.

They are visuopropioceptives, where I put my finger I have what I want, they are lightweight and do not I have to get home to work, technically they in in my pocket... I carry it everywhere, just like any brain, goes everywhere with me, and also have very good ability to memory.

The advantage of technological tools moreover, it's adding the fact  you no longer dependent on a special platform to teach, the most commonly used, Facebook is great for teaching on line and now has built Skype; Google +  allows the use of multiple cameras for video conferences, it have enough room for internet use while you are giving a class ... if education of the future will use more and more often these items it will be excited, but at the same time, it can be a  bet IF think about use  only gadgets and it would be closing the door to creativity and only turning  the current coin.

First, we must think about the economic and language barrier, that is why gadgets can not be considered as the only options, and it makes sense to use the tools that each brain has at hand from the culture, and thus will be more creative, successful and adapted. more experiences, more neural networks. Simple!.

So, we can not forget the environment, because that is where decisions are made, they learn ethical systems (Blanchette and Richards, 2010), is the civilization where the brain has evolved, and is ultimately who we want to teach (Dehaene, 2009).

And now here we come: what to teach?. I am convinced that it is possible to teach anything with the right strategy, from quantum physics to how to get to the moon or being the best driver of the world. Education should not only bet on science, or formal education, the brain learns from everywhere, learn how to break security systems, or  the law, IF it is assumed that this is not learned in school, how is that someone manages to construct an algorithm for something so complex?, because the brain is much more intelligent than the school has believed.

Like learning math, that persons  think is one of the  more complex learning so far, with  a special language, and it has been able to create a specific space in the brain (Dehaene, 1999), the brain can reconnect existing networks and to continue learning, and creating and modifying them. It is able to create a triangular circle, or a colorful painting in black and white. It is creative and likes to be. There is nothing better than when someone call us the best at something, anything, from the best runner, even the best in physics, or the best craftsman. That makes us feel good!.

I think the goal of education should be to help each one to find for that which every one is good, the younger that goal is reached, the better value is the talent and will be more helpful to society.

Accept that there are other talents and tell to each child: YES, YOU CAN!, I hope it can be the way to school in the future, even when the system itself can have flawed. Finally accept that not everyone can learn the same way, it will open doors to children that every day work hard trying to adapt their skills to the demands of school (Fisher, 2010).

Finally, if we see how  other species and children learn before going to school, open our eyes to accept that learning is enjoyable, and that the more is seen as a game, is better accepted (Tullis, 2011). Hence it is explained why videogames can capture children minds, but if we look closely, they are teaching things that do matter for the school.

For example, the relationship visuospatial, visuo motor process for reading and writing, teaching strategies, metacognitive processes, and I can easily go on and on ...

The school of the future should recognize that the first point is to understand the brain, which provides its services for everything and, it will find a cure for brain diseases for future generations, it will reorganize the world economy or, it will let me see a movie from the comfort of my home, with just one click

And of course, no everyone can be famous actors or musicians, but if you enjoy doing what is being done, that is natural and then it lets exploit the full potential of each person, would not be worth it to educate?.

Alma Dzib Goodin

If you would like to know more about my writing you can visit my web site:

Image 3D: Juan Conde Tovany


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Blanchette, I. and Richards, A. (2010) The influence of affect o higher level cognition: A review of research on interpretation, judgment, decision making and reasoning. Cognition & Emotion. 24 (4) 561-595.

Carboni Román, A., Del Rio Grande, D., Capilla, A., Maestú, F. y  Ortíz, T. (2006) Bases neurobiológicas de las dificultades de aprendizaje. Rev Neurol. 42 (Supl 2) S171-S175.

Cook, G. (2010) The brain and the written word. Scientific American Mind. 21 (1) 62-65.

Dehaene, S. (1999) The number sense: how mind creates mathematics. Oxford University Press. USA.

Dehaene, S. (2009) Reading in the brain: The science and evolution of a human invention. Viking Adult: Penguin Group. USA.

Dehaene, S., Nakamura, K., Jobert, A., Kuroki, C., Ogawa, S. and Cohen, L. (2009) Why do children make mirror errors in reading? Neural correlates of mirror invariance in the visual word form area. Neuroimage. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.09.024

Dzib Goodin, A (2011c) How do we learn?.  Disponible en red:

Dzib Goodin, A. (2011a) The search for talent: the Holy Grial disponible en red:

Dzib Goodin, A. (2011b) Brain differences: the black hole of formal education. Disponible en red:

Fisher, B. (2010) A sensory fix for problems in school. Scientific American Mind. 21 (1) 32-37.

Forget, J., Buiatti, M. and Dehaene, S. (2009) Temporal integration in visual word recognition. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. 1 (2) 1-15.

Fox, D. (2011) The limits of intelligence. Scientific American. 305 (1) 36- 43.
Gage, FH. (2007) Brain, repair yourself. En Floyd  E, Bloom. The best of the brain from Scientif American: Mind matter and tomorrow’s brain. Dana Press. US.

Haier, R. (2009) What does a smart brain look like?. Scientific American Mind. 20 (6) 26-33.

Hartshorne, J. (2009) Why don’t babies talk like adults? Scientific American Mind. 20 (5) 59 – 61.

Robinson, K. (2006) TED: Schools and creativity. Disponible en red:

Roediger III, HL. and Finn, B. (2010) The pluses of getting wrong.  Scientific American Mind. 21 (1) 38-41.

Tullis, P. (2011) Preeschool tests take time away from play and learning. Scientific American Mind. 22 (6) 26-29.

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  1. I found this article searching something else and I'm shocked for the brilliant line of ideas, you let me thinking very seriously about education issue. Thank you so much!

  2. Simply a new vision of the education!, thanks for sharing your ideas!, You refresh my faith!

  3. Children, all over the world, deserve better education, and great ideas to build brilliant minds!

  4. Thanks to all of us for take a moment and read it. I'm only one thinker who is giving time and effort for an educational change, there are groups all over the world, like Learning without Frontiers, amazing thinkers like Ken Robinson, new ideas. A change, won't come from others, I hope and wish it can come from us.