Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Neuroscience of Joyful Education: ASCD article by Judy Willis, teacher and former neurologist

Judy Willis, a former neurologist, currently a middle school teacher, has written an article, "The Neuroscience of Joyful Education". This article can be found in the on-line version of Educational Leadership, Summer 2007, "Educating the Whole Child". It is well worth taking the time to read this article and discuss it with a colleague.

Much has been written about the importance of "brain-based" educational practices, which are much different than "teach to the test" practices that have been encouraged in some of our nation's classrooms. Judy's background as a neurologist gives additional support to the "educating the whole child" approach.

Despite the focus on raising educational outcomes - mostly in the form of test scores - our nation has a high school drop-out rate of about 70%. The "teach to the test" approach might help raise student test scores from one grade to another, but doesn't seem to ensure broader educational outcomes such as high school graduation among a large percentage of our nation's youth.

Resources from Judy's article are worth reviewing:

"Teachers can find valuable background materials and human interest connections in textbooks published in the 1990s, before many publishers dropped such information to make room for practice test questions. The Internet is a source of many teacher-shared lesson plans and links to Web sites that provide resources for student activities and information databases that bring the more fact-heavy lessons to life. These are just a few Web sites that teachers can mine for ideas:

Judy Willis is the author of Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist/Classroom Teacher (ASCD, 2006; and Brain-Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion Classroom (ASCD, 2007;

Judy's website:

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