Tag Archives: Education

Neuromyths Busting and Education


English: PET scan of a normal human brain

English: PET scan of a normal human brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The OECD’s Brain and Learning project (2002) emphasized that many misconceptions about the brain exist among professionals in the field of education. Though these so-called “neuromyths” are loosely based on scientific facts, they may have adverse effects on educational practice. 

Here the list of some of the biggest neuromyths, or misguided beliefs about brain functions and their impact on learning and education design:

1-We use only 10 percent of our brains.

Wikipedia collected the refutations of the myth in its  “Ten Percent Of The Brain Myth” page Neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein sets out several kinds of evidence refuting the ten percent myth, here the top three most evident for me:

  • Studies of brain damage: If 90% of the brain is normally unused, then damage to these areas should not impair performance. Instead, there is almost no area of the brain that can be damaged without loss of abilities. Even slight damage to small areas of the brain can have profound effects.
  • Brain scans have shown that no matter what we’re doing, our brains are always active up to 45%. Some areas are more active at any one time than others, but unless we have brain damage, there is no one part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning.
  • Brain imaging: Technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allow the activity of the living brain to be monitored. They reveal that even during sleep, all parts of the brain show some level of activity. Only in the case of serious damage does a brain have “silent” areas.

2-The brain is static, unchanging, and set before you start school. The most widely accepted conclusion of current research in neuroscience is  neuroplasticity: Our brains grow, change, and adapt at all times in our lives depending on stimulus received from our environment. Therefore the more we use our brain at any age, the more we can develop connections and learn new skills even new languages. Experts routinely take the time to learn, unlearn and relearn relevant information related to their fields of expertise. There is a lot of new research going on in the field of cultural neurosciences, looking at the relations existing between cultural dimensions and the brain’s plasticity. Although most people think that good memory means good retrieval, good memory is actually good learning–forming a strong association when acquiring new information.

3-Some people are left-brained and some are right-brained. Like many other myths, this one has emerged from a misunderstanding of experiments made by 1981 Nobel Prize winner Roger Sperry, who noticed differences in the brain when he studied people whose left and right brains had been surgically disconnected. Today, neuroscientists know that the two sides of the brain work together to perform a wide variety of tasks and that the two hemispheres communicate through the corpus callosum.

4-Male and female brains are radically different. Though there may be subtle differences between male and female brains, there is absolutely no significant evidence to suggest that the genders learn or should be taught differently. 

5-The ages 0-3 are more important than any other age for learning. Even though the connections between neurons, called synapses, are greatest in number during this period there are few studies that have to do with teaching during these “critical” time periods.

Still, there are some powerful insights emerging from brain science that speak directly to how we teach in the classroom: learning experiences do help the brain grow, emotional safety does influence learning, and making lessons relevant can help information stick. The trick is separating the meat from the marketing.

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Online Education as an Agent of Transformation


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Online education is beginning to show itself as a disruptive innovation, introducing more convenient and affordable services that can transform sectors.

Anne Egros‘s insight:

Online (higher) education or E-learning, will change the way students will learn and it will help serve students who cannot afford traditional on campus teaching today. With globalization it is inevitable that traditional learning processes will be challenged and prestigious universities may lose their competitive advantages to the benefit of more collaborative and multicultural entities.

However the need for face to face meetings will still be there. The students may meet in person in local clusters to work on projects while using online materials instead than on campus classes.

The word MOOC has been introduced to designate MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES (FREE ONLINE COURSES) OFFERED BY THE BEST UNIVERSITIES AND ENTITIES. Already many universities offer online free courses  The top three MOOC-makers are Coursera, Udacity, and EdX

Another trend in education is crowd-sourcing, an open way to solve complex problems by using social media tools to get fresh ideas through group collaboration. For example, I use Memrise.coman online learning platform that users feed with their own ideas on how to memorize a specific topic.

See on www.nytimes.com

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Research Findings: The Value of Intercultural Skills in the Workplace


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Culture at Work: The value of intercultural skills in the workplace —A survey conducted by the British Council, Booz Allen Hamilton and Ipsos Public Affairs, of HR managers at 367 large employers…Posted on 2013/03/20 by Dianne Hofner Saphiere. See full article on blog.culturaldetective.com

Intercultural skills are crucial in the development of businesses internationally. However it is often difficult to identify employees who have the right combination of skills. Most HR managers of large multinational companies think that intercultural communication skills are beneficial to keep good reputation, build trust with overseas clients and partners, increase productivity and increase sales

The top 3 most important skills valued by employers are :

  • RESPECT
  • BUILDING TRUST
  • WORKING EFFECTIVELY IN DIVERSE TEAMS
If self-training through international assignments and working in multicultural projects are encouraged, employers are also expecting that educational institutions do more to equip students with intercultural skills.

Russia was not mentioned in this study but with the fast-changing pace of the economy, it is clear that there is the same need for more formal education on intercultural skills by education providers such as:

  • Teaching communication skills
  • Offering foreign language classes
  • Availability of opportunities for students to gain international experience
  • Development of international research partnerships.

Based on my experience, not only basic rules or cultural etiquette need to be learned in context but the ability to develop strong bonds on a personal level needs emphasis too.

Cross-cultural programs should not be dissociated from corporate culture but instead used to create a “third culture” so that all employees globally feel they share the same values.

If you look at companies such as Starbucks, not only the customer experience is the same everywhere but the corporate values too.

Read more about Starbucks here : What To Learn From A Brand That Is Trusted Globally?

What Do You Think Of Intercultural Programs Offered in Your country By Universities and Business Schools ?

Canada A Hotspot For Startups: Coaching Programs Helps


Map of Canada

Map of Canada

Canada  ranked high in terms of education, with 72% of Canadian respondents seeing an improvement in coaching programs in the past five years, and 50% calling for coaching as the No. 1 priority in the next three years to improve student perception of entrepreneurship.

Read Full Article:  Canada a hotspot for startups | Entrepreneur | Financial Post.

The Future Of Machine Translation


Google Phone docomo HT-03A

Image via Wikipedia

In the second part of his look at the US military and language learning, The World\’s writer Alex Gallafent, reports on efforts to develop automated translation devices for US soldiers to use in the field instead of human interpreters.

In this article, there are interesting developments in the field of automated translation integrating, body language, slangs or dialect. Toshiba is developing a Voice Translation Software and Google just released the Google Voice Translator app for smartphones.

Beside the military use, In today’s global competitive market, it is very important to be able to communicate with the right language conveying more information than just words such as business etiquette, gestures or facial expressions. If a human translator is still required in most business negotiations, being able to translate simple sentences and body language correctly through voice translation is a great step toward making our world an even more global village. I also think it is a great way to learn and practice a language.

Read full story: Machine translation for the military.

Does Raising Bilingual Children Make Them Smarter ?


Learning simultaneously two languages at very young age develops certain areas of the brain that are different when a second language is acquired later in life in high school or college for example.

The bilingual brain has one large area for processing complex information overlapping both languages while when a second language is learned after 13 years old there are two distinct areas for each language making  information processing  more difficult in the second language. According to recent brain imaging  studies, bilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills.

As a parent of a bilingual child I was afraid initially of confusion and mixing the two languages ( in my son’s case French/English). At school we have experienced 100% English curriculum and then speaking, reading, watching movies in French.

We also experienced a true bilingual French/English curriculum with one day in English, one day in French (Atlanta International school) for three years between 4K and 1st Grade.

Then back in a French-speaking country, Belgium, we also chose an international school with 100% English curriculum with extra personalized support focusing on English writing. At home we do everything in French but we don’t teach formal writing, spelling or grammar, however his reading is as good as in English. Other concepts like maths are learned simultaneously without special effort.

I also think that being transferred from New York to Tokyo then Atlanta and to Brussels between birth and age 8 developed his emotional intelligence and communication skills beyond speaking two languages. To adapt the brain needs to make new neuronal connections called “neuroplasticity”, and the younger the child get exposed the more new connections can be made. Being multiculturally literate is also a great advantage of raising children in different cultural environments, I believe more opportunities are offered both on personal and professional levels.

How To Select A School Before Moving Abroad ?


In my previous article “How To Meet People You Don’t Know” I was talking how to overcome your  fears about networking with strangers and strategies to meet new friends in general.

In this article, I would like to be more specific and give some tips on meeting people before you move abroad focusing on getting information about schools . In many cases expats don’t have time to visit the schools physically, so my message to new expats is:  educate yourself as much as possible before putting your destiny in the hands of relocation companies or real estate agents who do not necessarily understand what is best for you as a foreigner.

If you Google : Living in or  moving to your “destination” you will get tons of general information from history, population, climate, visas, school systems, real estate, studying  and so on which is great but easily overwhelming and sometimes very subjective.

I know the feeling : you have everything you need right in front of you on the internet but you don’t know what fits YOUR NEEDS !  So you want to talk to real people and make personal contacts living in the places of your choice.

How To Choose A Place To Live  With Children? Searching criteria about schools and neighborhoods that match your needs  is the first thing you will need.

Here  some questions you may ask yourself:

  • Do you want a public or a private school ?
  • Looking for International Baccalaureate programs PYP, MYP or IB  ?Those programs are recognized around the world and ensure adaptability and mobility for IB students.
  • Are you looking for a competitive or caring environment?
  • Do you have kids with learning disability or ADHD ?
  • Is the ratio student teacher important for you? for example in France 30 kids for 1 teacher is the norm
  • What about the languages ?
  • Do you want a religious school ?
  • Do you need extended day care if you work ?
  • Can you find your  children’s favorite sports and  after-school activities nearby ?
  • Do you need school bus?
  • What is the maximum time you want to spend on commute ?
  • Do you need public transportation?
  • How close is the nearest International airport?
  • How long do you plan to stay ?
  • Do you want to buy or rent a house or apartment?
  • What is the  average home sale prices ? Even if you don’t buy you will pay local taxes and living in a $1 million  average sale district will cost you more than a 400,00 but may have better schools.
  • How much are the local taxes ?

Before contacting anybody I suggest you put everything that you want and  that you don’t want  as well as an “I don’t know” in specific  lists.

Even if you want your children in private international schools, learn about the public school systems as in most cases your address will determine which schools you can go . This is the case in France and US for example. It is wise to live in a sector that has best rating public schools in case you need to become locals and cannot afford the high fee of an international school. On top of that, you want your kids to play with local kids and make sure you have a nice environment that suits your lifestyle

Once you have located the school districts look at homes that you can afford and are available for rent or to buy so you have your list ready to contact people living in the towns you think are a good fit for you.

You can get information directly from people living in your destination by posting questions on expat forums. I suggest you visit “expat expert” , Robin Pascoe’s website and look at her list of Links : http://www.expatexpert.com/ . Do not hesitate to engage  in personal conversations from people living in your target area who write a blog, post on Twitter, Facebook ,  Linkedin, Viadeo or Internations.org.

Here some information about school systems I have experimented with my son now in 3rd grade (CE2):

Schools In France: http://www.french-school-expat-guide.com

Schools In  Japan: Since most people who are first moving with family do not speak the local language, putting your child in a local Japanese school might not be possible. For young children however, if you cannot afford international schools and if you are working, I know a lot of  foreigners who put their children in local Japanese public daycare/preschools called  Hoikuen.  If you are students with kids, some universities have on campus nursery schools. You also need to check the enrollment procedures in your district(Ward). For older kids starting elementary schools and above,  you might check with your embassy resources about education.

Schools and neighborhoods in the USA: It is amazing how much information is available as free public statistics: you can compare schools and towns based on People, Cost of Living, Economy, Ethnicity, Housing, Health, Crime, Climate,
Education, Transportation, Religion, Voting etc.

Compare places to live:

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