Brain or Heart – How to Develop High Performing and Achieving Public Education Students

Technology has created a greater opportunity for exploring the impact of the brain. This emphasis on brain development has lead to how to creatively use brain research to improve classroom performance.

However, what about the heart of each student? How much time is developing and nurturing the desire to learn, to experience the unknown, to reach beyond their comfort zone and challenge conventional knowledge?

Over 50 years ago, Dr. Benjamin Bloom with several other educational psychologists developed what is now known as Bloom’s taxonomy. This model suggests that each individual has 3 learning domains:

  • Cognitive Learning Domain – Knowledge or The Brain
  • Psychomotor Learning Domain – Physical activity and application of knowledge or the Body
  • Affective Learning Domain – Feelings/Emotions or The Heart

As an individual who entered the teaching profession later in life (after 25 years in small business management and sales,) my professional training did not train me as to how to effectively teach and reach the affective learning domain. And now 10 years later as I work in urban schools, I still observe very little emphasis on this crucial learning domain.

The question is not whether students know that coming to school is important, during homework on time is necessary, learning to read and comprehend what they read, because they do know these things. What we should be asking is “Do these students want to come to school?” Educators must learn how to redevelop bad attitudes into positive ones.

Recent publication of the U.S. high school drop out rates demonstrate that we are not addressing the needs of our students. The U.S. public education system is the greatest opportunity for all citizens to realize their potential. We must begin to focus on their desires, their attitudes and their beliefs as much as we focus on the knowledge. Then and only then will we begin to see sustainable performance improvement.

The American Public Education System: Adjusting to a New Era of Technology and Change

The world as we know it is changing in leaps and bounds on a daily basis. Our children are growing up knowing and using iPods and computers with gigabytes of data storage for all their music and video files. High-speed Internet has become a way of life where more young people subscribe to, read, chat, and communicate with friends online than ever before. As the Internet marketplace continues to expand rapidly, and technologies afford education access from the ease and convenience of home, it is imperative that parents and educators recognize the benefits involved in education online.

The public education system in the United States grew out of an economy based upon single income workers, zero competition from outside markets for internal education consumers, and more manufacturing jobs than service jobs. The baby boomers born during the post World War II era, enjoyed the benefits of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Servicemen’s Readjustment Act or the GI Bill of Rights, which granted affordable access to college education. The baby boomers of the United States catapulted into growth as a result of this, enjoying an unprecedented level of abundance and prosperity.

One of these baby boomers is President George W. Bush, who enacted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCBA), offering the societal challenge of making every child proficient in reading and math by 2012. A schoolteacher for more than thirty years, who now runs a management company for teacher training, described the resultant effect of this act upon the public school system as one which far exceeded the capabilities of what American public schools can currently offer.

Despite the grandiose claims of the NCBA, actual school performance began to decrease after the passage of the act and the United States, as a whole, fell behind in education.

Supplemental Educational Services

In 2004-2005, there were more than 22 million children eligible for “supplemental educational services”, which includes tutoring. About 19% of those students got those services, or roughly two out of every ten students who were not proficient in core subjects, received aid. A good analogy would be a physician telling the parents of ten children that that they need medicine to cure an illness and only two out of the ten children can receive the medicine that they need.

The need for tutoring is obviously there. Why then is the current method of tutoring inadequate? There are principally four reasons why tutoring has been ineffective:

1) Schools can recruit tutors for students in rural areas and even fewer for those students in those areas with disabilities.

2) School districts do not tell parents that tutoring is available. When letters are sent home they often arrive late and are hard to understand.

3) Tutors are not allowed into schools and do not coordinate with teachers or the curriculum in the classroom, leaving the student confused.

4) State education departments do not evaluate the quality of tutors, as the law requires.

On one hand we have American schools and students failing and in need of remediation, operating under an outdated system of education, and money going to waste, and on the other hand we have an emerging technology platform based on high speed broadband technology that is leveling the playing field for people, and companies worldwide. This technology is one that not only attracts our children, but also captivates them, so that they return to computers and multimedia repeatedly for entertainment.

Armed with this knowledge, how can we as parents and educators remain blind to the changes within our own culture for learning and acquiring knowledge and the ways in which our children are learning? Tutoring programs such as take these tools and put them to use to educate our children in a fun and engaging manner.