Increasingly, modern classrooms support group work and peer-to-peer collaboration. The science says that’s right on.
Dr. Patricia Kuhl: We use a social context to learn about the world. We learn from others by watching what they’re interested in, and we learn by collaborating with them and discovering their ideas. When I went to school, all the desks faced forward, theater seating, and the teacher was at the front. And learning was thought of as a one-way street between the teacher and the vessels, we were the vessels. Pour in the information, and everything’s gonna be good. But now we realize that learning has to be more interactive, and this notion that interactivity comes from a social context. So what does that say about classrooms? It says that kids ought to face one another, that circles, or U-shaped, or anything that gets kids looking at one another, interacting with one another. Also, classrooms that allow kids to move and regroup, that they come together in larger groups facing each other. They come together in small groups facing each other. They work one on one. Anytime in which students have access to one another and are allowed and encouraged to move and act on the knowledge, and create together, co-create, co-design, that’s the classroom that will be more successful than the face-forward, one-way street that many of us experienced when we were children.
This video is part of the Edutopia Brain-Based Learning series on researcher Patricia Kuhl’s work around learning and the social brain.
Visit the website of the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington for more information.
Video: George Lucas Educational Foundation