The use and abuse of neuroscience

As a neuroscientist, and and a proponent of Waldorf Education, I seek evidence-based support for the principles of this education system, and I am particularly intrigued by evidence from brain research, the academic field I chose. Ed Meade (our Director of Education) and I recently had the opportunity to speak with our community about How the Developing Brain Informs Waldorf Education. I am delighted that neuroscience informed curricula are all the rage, spearheaded by Johns Hopkins’ School of Education Neuro Education Initiative (and their intriguing new Mind, Brain and Teaching certificate program).

However, as discussed in our recent session, there is a tendency to misinterpret and over-interpret results of neuroscience and cognitive development research, and to selectively choose certain findings to support education initiatives and policies. Further, there is growing concern about the rigor and reproducibility of a significant number of published neuroscience and cognitive science research.

The uses and abuses of research findings—in the context of education, parenting and family policy—was the topic of a recent international conference (some presentations can be viewed here) . This topic was also covered recently in a thoughtful article in The Guardian.


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