This Will Change Everything
If you do a search for scientific articles on “learning” and “brain,” you’ll find over 80,000 such papers published since 1945. Of these, eighty percent will have been published after 1990 and fifty percent since 2000. We are in the midst of a swelling torrent of knowledge about learning.
One of the 5,000 articles on learning and the brain that came out in 2009 was titled “Foundations for a New Science of Learning”1 and was published in Science, one of the most prestigious of scientific periodicals. In it, the authors argue that we’re seeing a merging of knowledge from neuroscience, psychology, pedagogy, and information technology that’s set to give rise to a new era of learning. For a number of years, experimental psychology and brain science have been unified into a research field known as cognitive neuroscience; pedagogy, on the other hand, still lives very much its own life. It is time to unite, for educational scientists to take on board the discoveries of cognitive neuroscience and for pedagogical issues and experience to direct the experimental work done by cognitive neuroscientists.
One interesting idea for how to bring researchers together and make them focus their efforts is to announce a prize. In 1996, the X-Prize organization announced an award of ten million dollars for the person who could construct an aeroplane able to carry people to the outer edges of the Earth’s atmosphere (and bring them back alive), twice in two weeks. In 2006, a team of researchers