Mary Boyd Ratzer: Knowledge Products and the Brain

The incredible Mary Boyd Ratzer will be speaking this morning at NYLA-SSL. Don’t miss it, New York readers! For the rest of our colleagues around the country, here’s her column from our November 2015 issue, in case you missed it.

If a learner’s brain could talk, it might provide some valuable advice about inquiry. Engaged learning experiences that lead to rigorous knowledge products build in dynamics that work for the brain. The outcome of brain-based teaching and learning is what Ross Todd calls formative knowledge—knowledge that hard wires and becomes the foundation for new learning. Without a knowledge product that demands synthesis and manipulation, use, and application of new knowledge, the brain’s recycle bin gets emptied in two weeks. Stopping short of a knowledge product disempowers learning experiences and learners. Just ask a candid kid about that. You will hear a tasking mindset concerned with “getting done” and giving the teacher what she wants for a grade.

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