Neuroscience researcher Francisco Mora claims ‘the essential element to the learning process is emotion’, because we can only learn that which we love, that which tells us something new, which means something. These boundaries are explored in Mora’s recently published Neuroeducación. The author believes that ‘without emotion there is no curiosity, no attention, no learning, no memory’.
Francisco Mora (Granada, 1945), who has a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Oxford
, and is a senior lecturer of physiology at the Universidad Complutense
, Madrid, has recently published Neuroeducación
), a volume that seeks to develop ‘the central questions of interest and concern in the world of teaching, at any level, and help to unravel the answers in light of the most recent discoveries of cognitive neuroscience’.
Happiness as a base for learning
The scientist points out that nowadays teaching methods are far from the primitive ‘game’ that used to be the accepted learning method, the memorisation of what was directly sensory, ‘with joy’, based on captivating attention and the awakening of curiosity.
He believes it is decidedly beneficial to approach learning methods from the point of view of the functioning of the brain. The accumulated knowledge about learning and memorisation can help studies at every level, from children to teenagers, to undergraduates and researchers.
We can only learn that which catches our attention, and attention according to Mora, arises from that which means recompense (pleasure) or punishment (danger). He warns that evolution and civilisation have distanced us from the original delight we took from learning and memorising.
Knowing how the brain works could revitalise teaching
Mora notes that he is not the only one who has noticed the link. Prestigious institutions such as the University of Cambridge are taking on similar projects, such as the recent ‘Centre for neuroscience in education’. Nevertheless he still recognises the difficulties the field has faced until now. It has often been challenging to prove and show conclusions to teachers, and to get them to use the information in the classroom.
Mora’s book Neuroeducation works from this perspective, trying to link the language of scientists with the language of teachers, and thus unite both professionals in the challenge to improve education. Spanish newspaper El Mundo has published an interview with Mora as a result of his commendations to neuroscientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, in a tribute at the Italian embassy.
An extended version of this article can be found at: Canal Lector