Scientific contributions: Neuroscience
by Marco Zagal
During the last 30 years Neuroscience has become the area of knowledge with greater contributions to education. Several relevant discoveries, such as neuroplasticity, synaptogenesis, glial cells, the cerebral hemispheres, the triune brain and the total brain, among many other concepts, give us new clues about how the brain works and the way human beings learn. Thus, they show the emergence of a new paradigm on the functioning of the school and teaching-learning models to be implemented in educational systems. The brain has a great capacity to adapt to the various sensory environments that surround us, so it is not a static or fixed organ.
According to the latest research on neuroscience and neuropsychobiology, among other areas, there is a coherence in the comprehensive development of students with Dr. Montessori’s approach. In this sense, the Montessori education coincides, from its deepest approaches, with such scientific advances in relation to how the school of the new century has to be and the kind of knowledge and skills required by our current society. There’s probably a new educational paradigm taking place, as there seems to be the need to begin a transition from a primarily transmissive educational model of knowledge to another that is more active and holistic, from a socio-constructivist perspective.
There is a misconception about the Montessori education as an approach belonging to the past. Nevertheless, current research in education differs by showing the need to incorporate changes in the educational model, changes which aren’t outside the Montessori philosophy, as they have been applied in its model for more than a century. If we compare this pedagogical proposal with current approaches about school learning in detail, metacognition, process evaluation, peer learning, where the teacher is a facilitator rather than an expert, the education of free-thinking, autonomous, entrepreneurial and creative individuals who see mistakes as opportunities, in short, happy people, we can realize that all or most of them are part of the Montessori approach.
Our pedagogical approach focuses the attention on various elements that have a significant effect on self-esteem, learning and the possibilities for improvement that everyone can experience, especially children and young people in their social and personal development. For these reasons, we have an academic, familiar, ethical and professional responsibility because we know that Education can transform society.