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By Jessica Bland
FROM TESSA GARDNER IN THE ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE POLICY CENTRETeachers, neuroscientists, and policy officials
they might sound like they have nothing in common. Butwhether more familiar with the classroom, laboratory or Whitehall, over 100 of these seemingly disparateprofessionals gathered together last Tuesday as part of
neuroscience, education, and lifelong learning.Once synonymous with lobotomies and other more obscurebrain surgeries, neuroscience is now increasingly recognised for its relevance and potential applications toa number of public policy areas including education.
The word “brainy” has long been used as an informal way to describe s
omeone considered to be intelligentor knowledgeable
so if the brain is recognised as fundamental to the learning process, why don’t the
teaching community know more about how it works? Can information about the brain optimise teachingoutcomes? Should e
ducation policy be taking this into account? Last week’s discussion was a starting point
for answering these questions and for exploring the implications of future developments in neuroscience.The event, held jointly with The Wellcome Trust
FRS, chair of the Royal Society’s Brain Waves wo
rking group on neuroscience, education, and lifelonglearning. Short talks were given by former Education Secretary Baroness Estelle Morris,who spoke about
the importance of evidence in education policy and Professor Barbara Sahakian from Cambridge
University, who gave an introduction to neuroeducation. David Willetts,Minister for Universities and
Science spoke to the group about the importance of lifelong learning.The central activity of the event was a series of ten simultaneous roundtable discussions, with the dialoguelogged live via Twitter using the hashtag #neuroed.Recurring themes included:- Challenges of translating research evidence into practical outcomes- improving mechanisms for improving collaboration between teachers and scientists- accessibility of relevant and robust information from reputable sources.