Scientism, Philosophy and Brain-Based Learning

Northwest Journal of Teacher Education 11 (1):113-144 (2013)
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Abstract

[This is an edited and improved version of "You Are Not Your Brain: Against 'Teaching to the Brain'" previously published in *Review of Higher Education and Self-Learning* 5(15), Summer 2012.] Since educators are always looking for ways to improve their practice, and since empirical science is now accepted in our worldview as the final arbiter of truth, it is no surprise they have been lured toward cognitive neuroscience in hopes that discovering how the brain learns will provide a nutshell explanation for student learning in general. I argue that identifying the person with the brain is scientism (not science), that the brain is not the person, and that it is the person who learns. In fact the brain only responds to the learning of embodied experience within the extra-neural network of intersubjective communications. Learning is a dynamic, cultural activity, not a neural program. Brain-based learning is unnecessary for educators and may be dangerous in that a culturally narrow ontology is taken for granted, thus restricting our creativity and imagination, and narrowing the human community.

Author's Profile

Gregory Michael Nixon
Louisiana State University (PhD)

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