Stanford Study: Common Core Is Bad For The Brain

Here is scientific proof from Stanford University that the Common Core way of teaching and learning is totally unnatural and definitely bad for brain development.

Kids’ brains reorganize when learning math skills

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/08/18/kids-brains-reorganize-when-learning-math-skills/

The reason is simple.
(1) Common Core does away with the use of recall which is the brain’s most efficient and fastest function.

(2) Common Core forces kids to be stuck in problem-solving analytical mode which is necessarily the brain’s most deliberate, slowest function.

The Common Core “State” Standards manage to accomplish this feat by very explicitly, very deliberately doing away with “rote memorization” as a learning and teaching method. They do so in all subjects for which standards have been or still are being written. Instead, Common Core imposes “child centered” as the only teaching method allowed, according to which the children are organized into groups, and through discussion and consensus building they arrive an answer that they all agree on (whether that answer is right or wrong). Common Core reduces the teacher to be a “guide on the side” spectator, not even discussion leader, as the students are fumbling for answers in a tragic re-enactment of the blind leading the blind.

I wonder what more proof the education establishment needs to take another look and scrap Common Core, by whatever name they are calling it lately, stop its implementation immediately, and go back — YES, GO BACK to the good old days at least 50-60 years ago when
(1) A teacher was still educated and screened rigorously before being allowed into a classroom,
(2) She was free to use her professional experience and judgement to match the teaching method to the subject matter, the lesson and her students, which included  lectures, presentations, demonstrations, readings, drills, exercises, lab work, library research, homework, term papers, individual and group projects, individual instruction as necessary, etc.; and
(3) Yes, we WERE required to memorize addition and multiplication tables, poems, songs, historical dates and facts, scientific facts and formulas, etc.

The next page is the full text of the AP article, with my emphasis added.

It is based on
Hippocampal-neocortical functional reorganization underlies children’s cognitive development : Nature Neuroscience : Nature Publishing Group

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.3788.html

THIS IS HUGE.

There is nothing more to say about Common Core after this. Anyone who is still in favor of Common Core is either uninformed, willfully ignorant, or downright evil in the old fire-and-brimstone sense, but in either case definitely NOT motivated by the welfare of the children, the community or the country.

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Kids’ brains re-organize when learning math skills
Published August 18, 2014
Associated Press

Sometime in elementary school, you quit counting your fingers and just know the answer. Now scientists have put youngsters into brain scanners to find out why, and watched how the brain reorganizes itself as kids learn math.

The take-home advice: Drilling your kids on simple addition and multiplication may pay off.

Experience really does matter,” said Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research.

Healthy children start making that switch between counting to what’s called fact retrieval when they’re 8 years old to 9 years old, when they’re still working on fundamental addition and subtraction. How well kids make that shift to memory-based problem-solving is known to predict their ultimate math achievement.

Those who fall behind “are impairing or slowing down their math learning later on,” Mann Koepke said.

But why do some kids make the transition easier than others?

To start finding out, Stanford University researchers first peeked into the brains of 28 children as they solved a series of simple addition problems inside a brain-scanning MRI machine.

No scribbling out the answer: The 7- to 9-year-olds saw a calculation – three plus four equals seven, for example – flash on a screen and pushed a button to say if the answer was right or wrong. Scientists recorded how quickly they responded and what regions of their brain became active as they did.

In a separate session, they also tested the kids face to face, watching if they moved their lips or counted on their fingers, for comparison with the brain data.

The children were tested twice, roughly a year apart. As the kids got older, their answers relied more on memory and became faster and more accurate, and it showed in the brain. There was less activity in the prefrontal and parietal regions associated with counting and more in the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, the researchers reported Sunday in Nature Neuroscience.

The hippocampus is sort of like a relay station where new memories come in – short-term working memory – and then can be sent elsewhere for longer-term storage and retrieval. Those hippocampal connections increased with the kids’ math performance.

“The stronger the connections, the greater each individual’s ability to retrieve facts from memory,” said Dr. Vinod Menon, a psychiatry professor at Stanford and the study’s senior author.

But that’s not the whole story.

Next, Menon’s team put 20 adolescents and 20 adults into the MRI machines and gave them the same simple addition problems. It turns out that adults don’t use their memory-crunching hippocampus in the same way. Instead of using a lot of effort, retrieving six plus four equals 10 from long-term storage was almost automatic, Menon said.

In other words, over time the brain became increasingly efficient at retrieving facts. Think of it like a bumpy, grassy field, NIH’s Mann Koepke explained. Walk over the same spot enough and a smooth, grass-free path forms, making it easier to get from start to end.

If your brain doesn’t have to work as hard on simple math, it has more working memory free to process the teacher’s brand-new lesson on more complex math.

“The study provides new evidence that this experience with math actually changes the hippocampal patterns, or the connections. They become more stable with skill development,” she said. “So learning your addition and multiplication tables and having them in rote memory helps.”

Quiz your child in different orders, she advised – nine times three and then 10 times nine – to make sure they really remember and didn’t have to think it through.

While the study focuses on math, Mann Koepke said cognitive development in general probably works the same way. After all, kids who match sounds to letters earlier learn to read faster.

Stanford’s Menon said the next step is to study what goes wrong with this system in children with math learning disabilities, so that scientists might try new strategies to help them learn.

(Which reminds me… Common Core also has NO provisions for children with special needs.)

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Hippocampal-neocortical functional reorganization underlies children’s cognitive development
•    Shaozheng Qin,1,
•    Soohyun Cho,1, 2,
•    Tianwen Chen,1,
•    Miriam Rosenberg-Lee,1,
•    David C Geary3,
•    & Vinod Menon1, 4,
Journal name: Nature Neuroscience
Year published: (2014)
DOI:doi:10.1038/nn.3788
Received 29 April 2014
Accepted 17 July 2014
Published online 17 August 2014

Abstract

The importance of the hippocampal system for rapid learning and memory is well recognized, but its contributions to a cardinal feature of children’s cognitive development—the transition from procedure-based to memory-based problem-solving strategies—are unknown. Here we show that the hippocampal system is pivotal to this strategic transition. Longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 7–9-year-old children revealed that the transition from use of counting to memory-based retrieval parallels increased hippocampal and decreased prefrontal-parietal engagement during arithmetic problem solving. Longitudinal improvements in retrieval-strategy use were predicted by increased hippocampal-neocortical functional connectivity. Beyond childhood, retrieval-strategy use continued to improve through adolescence into adulthood and was associated with decreased activation but more stable interproblem representations in the hippocampus. Our findings provide insights into the dynamic role of the hippocampus in the maturation of memory-based problem solving and establish a critical link between hippocampal-neocortical reorganization and children’s cognitive development.

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