Homo Docens: Lessons From Brain Science About Effective Teaching
The official scientific name for our species is homo sapiens (wise human), but evolutionary scientists and neuroscientists suggest that a more accurate description is homo docens (the species that teaches itself). Why? Well, although learning is universally widespread in the animal world, ours is the only species that actively teaches its offspring (Högberg, Gärdenfors & Lars Larsson, 2015; Dehaene, 2020). This presentation will draw mainly on the work of Stanislas Dehaene to explain four basic principles that lead to effective learning and the neuroscience behind each one. These principles are: 1) Help learners direct and focus their attention; 2) Foster active engagement with the subject matter under investigation; 3) Provide constructive error feedback that guides learning and does not evaluate the learner; 4) Create opportunities for consolidation of learning through regular practice and skill building activities that enable subconscious mastery of what is being learned. Examples of class activities for a variety of levels of English learners will be provided to illustrate each of these principles and it is hoped that participants in the follow-up Q & A discussion will share many more examples of their own.