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NEUROBIOLOGY OF LEARNING: A COLLABORATIVE MODEL THAT CHALLENGES PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS TO UNDERSTAND THE ETIOLOGIES OF LEARNING AND BEHAVIOR CHALLENGES THAT THEY ENCOUNTER IN THE CLASSROOM

M. Cameron, D. Cameron

The University of Findlay (UNITED STATES)
Neurobiology of Learning is a required course in the post baccalaureate Intervention Specialist Program in the College of Education at the University of Findlay. The course was designed and implemented in 1990, the year that launched the Decade of the Brain. At this time, Brain Based Learning came into focus in the field of education, and there was a perceived need to offer future teachers of Special Education insights into the underlying neurological causes of learning and behavioral challenges experienced in the classroom.
Ideally, every teacher should be equipped to help every child learn and reach his/her full potential. This course is designed to offer a model that will facilitate this goal and at the same time help teachers understand and appreciate neurodiversity while recognizing the uniqueness of each individual. Neurodiversity is a term described by Thomas Armstorng, (http://www.newhorizons.org/spneeds/inclusion/information/armstrong.htm):
“Its basic premise is that atypical neurological wiring is part of the normal spectrum of human differences and is to be tolerated and respected like any other human difference such as race, gender, sexual preference, or cultural background.”
It is a daunting task for every teacher to meet the individual learning needs of each child in the classroom when faced with such diversity. This model presents a paradigm that emphasizes commonalities of brain function in children of all abilities, looks at the underlying neurological conditions that promote certain puzzling behaviors, and shows how the teacher can target total brain stimulation, at the same time knowing how to differentiate instruction to meet specific needs.
When one understands that there are certain patterns and syndromes that can be perceived it gives one the ability to understand the complexity of human learning, and makes this daunting task of individualization seem somewhat more manageable. By looking at the language, perceptual, behavioral and motor characteristics of students with challenges, one addresses and meets needs rather than perseverate on labels and sometimes diagnoses that miss the root of perceived behaviors.
“Answering key questions about mind, brain and education requires reciprocal interaction between scientific research and practical knowledge of educators and caregivers.” (Fischer et al, 2007, p.1)
Such reciprocity is reflected in this course at The University of Findlay which is team-taught by Dr. Donald Cameron, a pediatric neurologist, and Dr. Mary Cameron Associate Professor in the College of Education.

References:
Armstrong, Thomas. 2005.
http://www.newhorizons.org/spneeds/inclusion/information/armstrong.htm.
Retrieved 5/23/2008
.Fisher, Kurt W.; Daniel, David B.; Immordino-Yang, Mary Helen; Stern, Elsbeth; Battro, Antonio, Koizumi, Hideaki. (2007). Why Mind, Brain, and Education? Why Now? Mind, Brain, and Education. Vol. 1. No. 1, pp 1-2.