Editor’s note: Dr. Curtis Kelly is a Professor of English at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan. In this piece, he shares information about MindBrainEd Think Tank journal with TIRF supporters.
Research in the neuroscience and psychology of learning is advancing by leaps and bounds, but little of that work is making it to the classroom, especially the language classroom. Our publication is trying to change that. Each month, our highly accessible, reader-centered, MindBrainEd Think Tank examines some important areas of brain science research and suggests ways teachers can use that information to improve their language classes.
We produce this publication for teachers, so we do not provide new research; traditional literature reviews; or in-depth, jargon-heavy discussion on a theoretical topic. Instead, we use what we call a 21st Century Learning Approach, that resembles the way most of us learn about a new topic we are not expert in. We start by directing readers to an engaging online TED Talk, YouTube presentation, podcast, or article on a topic like emotion, working memory, or the adolescent brain. Then, four or five teachers and researchers write Think Tank articles discussing the topic of focus. The authors might provide additional research, connect the topic to other findings in brain science, or tell us ways we can use this information as we teach.
For example, our readers might first listen to a podcast in which Harvard University’s John Ratey explains how movement increases blood flow and thereby raises cognition function. Then, we suggest ways to do that in class, such as having students stand up and get handouts, instead of passing them out. The articles are short, usually about 1,500 words, and we work with our authors to make sure their contributions are engaging; teachers don’t have the time or patience to decode dense or dull writing.
It may seem odd that we are introducing a publication that does not fit typical journal standards, but this, too, is a product of science. The slow rate of information transfer from brain science to the classroom has been well-documented in numerous studies, which led to the creation of a new academic field – Mind, Brain, and Education (originally at Harvard). The goal of this field is to reduce the gap between the laboratory and the classroom, by identifying neuromyths and translating high-level cognitive neuroscience and developmental psychology into language and actual implementation meaningful to classroom teachers. And who better to do so than the teachers, fascinated by this research, themselves?
Our publications are free and currently read by teachers in 15 countries. We are unfunded, doing this activity out of passion, and we welcome anyone who would like to join us to subscribe or write a piece for the journal. Note that we also have a Mind, Brain, and Education research journal (ISSN 2433-8303) available here, on the same site.