DR. TRACEY TOKUHAMA-ESPINOSA'S CONGRESS SPEECH 1

THE FIVE PILLARS OF THE MIND: REIMAGINING EDUCATION TO MAXIMISE LEARNING

CONGRESS | 17 APR 2019

There are many bold decisions we can take to change the direction of education to better respond to modern expectations of schools, teachers and learning experiences. While there have been improvements in classroom management techniques, activities and strategies for teaching and learning, and the invention of new tools to facilitate and personalize our work with children, there have been little or no changes to the basic school curriculum. For roughly the past 200 years, the same subject-based curriculum exists in nearly the same form all around the world. Nearly all countries, from Australia to China, France, the US, Japan, Italy and Singapore all teach some form of Language, Math, Science, History/Civics, Health/Physical Education, and Art (and some also have a second or third language requirement, vocational education programs and instruction in TICs).

After a thorough review of the neuroscience literature in early childhood education in 2013, it was found that everything needed to learn early math or pre-literacy skills could be categorized as one or more “pillars”. Each pillar correlated with a specific network and its growth can be measured and documented. The pillars are, and by extension, all learning is, either a (1) symbol; (b) a pattern; (3) an expression of order; (4) a relationship or (5) a category. For example, in language, symbols include the letters and punctuation marks; the patterns include the rules used to conjugate verbs in the past tense. Order is expressed in grammatical structures. Relationships can be seen in subject-verb agreements. Categories include the way we can divide words into nouns, adjectives, verbs and so on. Between 2014-2018 all current school subjects were plotted onto the pillars structure and it was found that everything a human can learn, including all current subject areas in school, can be explained by the five pillars in this new, neuroconstructivist, learning trajectory design.

This keynote will explain the evidence for the Five Pillars of the Mind and suggest ways this can disrupt current educational practices, leading to a more natural way of teaching and learning in our classrooms.

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