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Brain and Behavior Institute Critique 2007

Ashley Dawkins's picture

The goal of this Institute was “to bring together college faculty and K-12 teachers to discuss current understandings of brain function in relation to behavior ... and the implications of those understandings for classroom teaching and education generally”.

Overall I believe this was achieved. The Institute was set up in a way that the teachers used the Serendip Exchange and Paul was able to develop a webpage that had the notes and links for the day and then have an exchange forum underneath it. If there was any question about what went on that day, all that was required was to look at the website to be reminded. This setup was conducive to conversation and in fact there was constant communication between Paul and the participants.

Each day began with a review of the previous day. This was not done in a form of lecture, but instead, Paul would pull quotes from the teachers’ postings from the previous day and discuss what was written; always leaving room for the person who was quoted to explain himself or herself. The teachers seemed to really enjoy this portion of the day and would go on in conversation for quite some time. What I was most impressed about what that the teachers did not need Paul to tell them how what they learned could relate to their own classrooms, instead they would come up with their own ways and encourage one another through these ideas. I believe they felt comfortable sharing their own ideas because Paul was able to establish a comfortable environment.

The Institute seemed to be a great success with the teachers and the presentations were interesting. Also, in the end when I look back on the Institute I was surprised at how much information we covered because it did not seem that way while we were experiencing it. Despite all of this I wonder how much exploring was going on during the presentations? Paul’s talks were able to get the teachers thinking and exploring in their minds, but does inquiry go beyond thought? Does is go beyond engagement? Does inquiry require body movement as well as metal movement? As I wrestle with what exactly qualifies as inquiry learning I am left with all of these questions.

The teachers were assigned to create a web project exploring something of their interest. Paul kept the description of this project open-ended on purpose in order to leave room for exploration. Was the web project portion the inquiry part, or was it the teachers’ desire to inquire being applied and directed in some way?

Another thing that I questioned was whether or not Paul should have been present for the guest speakers. I think yes. I thought maybe he wanted to free up the presenters by giving them the floor or maybe he was preparing something important and had to leave the room. I would argue that it would have been beneficial for him to be there during others’ presentations.


Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

Brain and behavior Institute

I think the institute was very good!  I believe that some of the participants didn't really understand about what the story was all about until the last day.  The speakers tried to keep everyone involved and they did an excellent job.  I learned to be more comfortable with myself and my computer skills.  I shared a lot of information with my colleagues at my school.  So, the story is I enjoyed and learned from all of the "stories!"