Editor’s Note: In conjunction with the 20-year anniversary of BrainSMART, we are sharing some of our educators’ stories. All of the featured educators earned their Master’s in Brain-based Teaching curricula and/or the Minor in Brain-based Leadership, co-developed by Dr. Donna Wilson and Dr. Marcus Conyers, co-founders of BrainSMART. Below is a synopsis of one of those stories.
As a veteran
teacher, Paul Farmer appreciated a fundamental principle of the M.S.
program with a major in Brain-Based Teaching—that all students, even
those with learning disabilities, can become functionally smarter when
they are taught how to learn.
“I am no longer content
to see my job as an educator being limited to that of teaching A, B, C
and 1, 2, 3, and I feel that such a limit is a disservice to the
disabled students in my classroom,” said Mr. Farmer in an interview for
the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students.
“I feel that a greater and more profound service is provided by viewing
all students as having the capability not only to develop their bank of
knowledge and skills, but also their capacity to learn and function in
the world in which they live.
grateful for the graduate degree program introducing me to the ideas of
individuals such as Reuven Feuerstein, who devoted his life to teaching
cognitive assets and believed and demonstrated that children with
intellectual disabilities can grow in their cognitive capacity,” Mr.
Mr. Farmer has taught special education
classes for students with moderate to severe and multiple disabilities
in California for many years. He earned his M.S. degree from NSU in
August 2011, having previously earned an M.A. in Special Education at
California State University, San Bernardino.
progressed through his graduate studies, Mr. Farmer realized that the
most powerful educational experience he could provide came from merging
the art of teaching with the science of learning. For example, giving
students the power of choice in their learning resulted in a greater
degree of student participation in lessons. And incorporating auditory,
visual, and kinesthetic elements to lessons along with opportunities for
movement and strategies to enhance retention have resulted in learning
“All of the strategies and principles discussed
by Wilson and Conyers have revolutionized my lesson planning,” Mr.
Farmer said in the ETSS interview. “I teach cognitive assets
along with curriculum. I ponder and reflect upon how the lessons can
connect and be meaningful to my students, because that is a pathway to
long-term retention. Whenever I plan lessons, I try to keep in mind that
learning is not something I impart to students, but rather it is
something created in the mind of the learner. The lessons must be
focused on and related to what the learner finds meaningful.”
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