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The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom

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This book explains how the brain, as a social organism, learns best throughout the lifespan, from our early schooling through late life. Positioning the brain as distinctly social, Louis Cozolino helps teachers make connections to neurobiological principles, with the goal of creating classrooms that nurture healthy attachment patterns and resilient psyches. Cozolino investi This book explains how the brain, as a social organism, learns best throughout the lifespan, from our early schooling through late life. Positioning the brain as distinctly social, Louis Cozolino helps teachers make connections to neurobiological principles, with the goal of creating classrooms that nurture healthy attachment patterns and resilient psyches. Cozolino investigates what good teachers do to stimulate minds and brains to learn, especially when they succeed with difficult or “unteachable” students. He explores classroom teaching from the perspectives of social neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology, showing how we can use the findings from these fields to maximize learning and stimulate the brain to grow. The book will have relevance to anyone concerned with twenty-first century learners and the social and emotional development of children.


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This book explains how the brain, as a social organism, learns best throughout the lifespan, from our early schooling through late life. Positioning the brain as distinctly social, Louis Cozolino helps teachers make connections to neurobiological principles, with the goal of creating classrooms that nurture healthy attachment patterns and resilient psyches. Cozolino investi This book explains how the brain, as a social organism, learns best throughout the lifespan, from our early schooling through late life. Positioning the brain as distinctly social, Louis Cozolino helps teachers make connections to neurobiological principles, with the goal of creating classrooms that nurture healthy attachment patterns and resilient psyches. Cozolino investigates what good teachers do to stimulate minds and brains to learn, especially when they succeed with difficult or “unteachable” students. He explores classroom teaching from the perspectives of social neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology, showing how we can use the findings from these fields to maximize learning and stimulate the brain to grow. The book will have relevance to anyone concerned with twenty-first century learners and the social and emotional development of children.

30 review for The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    An excellent review of the fundamental research findings within social neuroscience and their implications for teaching. However, while the book is rich in social neuroscience and offers excellent broad conclusions about what these findings mean for educators, it offers few details - just anecdotes - about how to incorporate the conclusions in daily practice. The exemplary schools often achieve their goals by selecting out the very students the author suggests need attachment-based teaching. To An excellent review of the fundamental research findings within social neuroscience and their implications for teaching. However, while the book is rich in social neuroscience and offers excellent broad conclusions about what these findings mean for educators, it offers few details - just anecdotes - about how to incorporate the conclusions in daily practice. The exemplary schools often achieve their goals by selecting out the very students the author suggests need attachment-based teaching. To truly improve the maladaptive schemas of abused, neglected children, we need to employ environmental and broad social justice initiatives. Attachment-based teaching is intensely challenging for the typical teacher and likely only effective for a small subset of the students in need of help.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Essential reading for anyone interested in education! A fantastic, easy to read and very informative book, that provided a wealth of evidence on what I've suspected for years: relationships underpin the effectiveness of learning! Essential reading for anyone interested in education! A fantastic, easy to read and very informative book, that provided a wealth of evidence on what I've suspected for years: relationships underpin the effectiveness of learning!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sally Bailey

    Important book for teachers to read -- the social MUST stay in education

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nonfiction-- KCM

    The following excerpts offer support for the value of basic-skills programs such as ALP, which capitalize on tribal and peer-to-peer learning that is facilitated by a compassionate teacher in an intimate setting. Small class sizes and social interaction, while helpful in all learning situations, are an essential precursor to a successful basic-skills program, a point that is supported by current research in neuroscience. • “While Western culture has changed a great deal during the last 5,000 yea The following excerpts offer support for the value of basic-skills programs such as ALP, which capitalize on tribal and peer-to-peer learning that is facilitated by a compassionate teacher in an intimate setting. Small class sizes and social interaction, while helpful in all learning situations, are an essential precursor to a successful basic-skills program, a point that is supported by current research in neuroscience. • “While Western culture has changed a great deal during the last 5,000 years, the social instincts, physiology, and biochemistry of the neural networks that evolved for 100,000 years in the context of tribal life remain essentially unchanged . . . The most successful modern institutions may well be those that have found ways to access and harness the instincts of our primitive social brains . . . [Such examples include] sports teams [that] encourage intense ritualistic bonding in small subgroups preparing for combat or competition. These accommodations to tribal instincts within large hierarchies have been referred to as ‘work-arounds’ in management sciences and cultural anthropology (Richerson & Boyd, 1998) . . . [T]eachers who are able to tap into the primitive social instincts of their students through attachment relationships and build tribal classrooms succeed in seemingly impossible educational situations. Over and over again ‘tribal’ teachers find ways to teach students thought to be ‘unteachable’” (xxiv). • “Educational experts are guilty of . . . myopathy when they focus on curricular content and test performance rather than the social world of students and teachers. By relying on models of mass production, we miss the interdependent nature of human brains” (4). • “Teacher use their personalities, interpersonal skills, and teaching methods to create physical, conceptual, and social environment that stimulate neural plasticity, enhance brain development, and optimize learning. The curriculum and social environment of a classroom have a synergistic impact on learning. Supportive, encouraging, and caring relationships stimulate students’ neural circuitry to learn, priming their brains for neuroplastic processes. Studies with birds have demonstrated that the ability to learn their ‘songs’ can be enhanced when exposed to live singing birds versus tape recordings of the same songs (Baptisa & Petrinovich, 1986). Some birds actually require social interactions to trigger brain plasticity (Eales, 1985). Studies of high-risk adolescents who show resilience in the face of trauma and stress often report one or two adults that took a special interest in them and became invested in their success. This underscores the fact that, like birds, humans engage more effectively in brain-altering learning when they are face-to-face, mind-to-mind, and heart-to-heart with caring others. This is how learning occurs in tribes and in tribal classrooms, where teachers and classmates are able to become family” (17). • “One characteristic of tribal life is maintaining optimal group size for direct communication, independence, and mutual accountability . . . small groups enhance vigilance for threats and make it more likely that individuals will contribute to the common good (Isaac et at., 1994; Roberts, 1996). As social groups grow larger, the biochemistry of attachment appears to be supplanted by a state of mind and body that weakens primitive social instincts in the service of self-preservation. As this occurs, we see that people grow less attuned to, identified with, and empathetic toward one another. The economy of scale within public education often leads to the creation of classrooms, schools, and educational bureaucracies that create a sense of alienation and a diffusion of responsibility . . . When group size is optimized for attachment, a classroom can become a secure base from which to think new thoughts, explore, and learn. Smaller classes . . . allow for more personal interactions, one-on-one and small-group activities, and a stronger sense of group identity, which enhance tribe building” (225). • “[Geoffrey] Canada [creator of Harlem Children’s Zone] believes that the way to accelerate [students] who are far behind is to expose them to more instruction and immerse them in a well-run, disciplined, and demanding environment” (261).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is a strong, evidence-based argument for the prioritization of relationships in education, relying attachment theory and the biological understanding of how the brain learns and interacts with others. The only fault is some "extremism" when it comes to exemplifying cases. For example, Cozolino implicitly states through anecdotes that educators like Jamie Escalante and Erin Gruwell are what it takes to support students who are deemed "unteachable" without giving room for more accessible yet This is a strong, evidence-based argument for the prioritization of relationships in education, relying attachment theory and the biological understanding of how the brain learns and interacts with others. The only fault is some "extremism" when it comes to exemplifying cases. For example, Cozolino implicitly states through anecdotes that educators like Jamie Escalante and Erin Gruwell are what it takes to support students who are deemed "unteachable" without giving room for more accessible yet still progressive methods.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Briana Larsen

    Insightful The book delves into research about the brain, learning and attachment. This text, and concepts discussed, complement best teaching practices resources by explaining the alignment to brain function and our natural instincts.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marcel

    inspirational and well-researched, this book looks at teaching and learning from the perspective of neuroscience and socio-cultural anthropology. It is obviously aimed at American educators facing difficult students, but can benefit any teacher who would like to leverage natural human motivation in group settings. The author really knows his stuff. The book contains one of the most impressive reference sections I've seen. inspirational and well-researched, this book looks at teaching and learning from the perspective of neuroscience and socio-cultural anthropology. It is obviously aimed at American educators facing difficult students, but can benefit any teacher who would like to leverage natural human motivation in group settings. The author really knows his stuff. The book contains one of the most impressive reference sections I've seen.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Von

    I cannot speak highly enough of this book which becomes my bible when speaking to teachers about the psychology of learning. He writes well, makes difficult concepts accessible and has enriched my practice enormously. Huge Cozolino fan.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    An excellent primer on neuroscience and attachment and worth the read for that alone, I felt that this book was let down in the latter part by its failure to talk about HOW to apply the theory to classroom practise. A few inspiring anecdotes don't cut it. An excellent primer on neuroscience and attachment and worth the read for that alone, I felt that this book was let down in the latter part by its failure to talk about HOW to apply the theory to classroom practise. A few inspiring anecdotes don't cut it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter Gates

    Hmm I rapidly lost interest in this book. Not that I don't think the content or approach is dubious, because it isn't. It is just that it's not that convincing or well written. I'm now trying to give it away. Free to a good home! Hmm I rapidly lost interest in this book. Not that I don't think the content or approach is dubious, because it isn't. It is just that it's not that convincing or well written. I'm now trying to give it away. Free to a good home!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I really liked the depth of research and the list of resources. Great book that gives scientific research behind the importance of creating relationships, not only with your students, but between your students: a tribal classroom with a caring elder is the basis for success.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matt Root

    This is a brilliant book. My only complaint is that it's a little *too* thorough, which makes it a tough slog at times. This is a brilliant book. My only complaint is that it's a little *too* thorough, which makes it a tough slog at times.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    370.15 C882 2013

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Shamey

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matt Lambro, Ph.D.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kirke

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  23. 4 out of 5

    Prasanta Sanyal

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alison Buescher

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Michael

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Estefany Hurtado Buriticá

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