Basic Guidelines for Brain-Compatible Classrooms: Theory to Praxis

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1995

Publication Title

National Association of Laboratory Schools Journal


This paper reviews recent findings in the field of neuroscience that may have a direct impact on specific methodologies and practices in education. It focuses on five concepts from neuroscience: (1) the mind-brain processes symbolic information; (2) neurons are imbued with an epistemic hunger and the mind-brain with a cognitive imperative to learn and form neural networks; (3) learning is a process of forming novel neural networks through the recognition of patterns; (4) novel neural networks can only form as relevant extensions of or alterations to previously existing neural networks; and (5) there is, for each mind-brain, an optimal level tension for the facilitation of neural network formation. The paper argues that educators should take into account that all thinking is abstract, that they should build upon the incessant natural desire for knowledge, that students be allowed to recognize patterns for themselves, that instructors contextualize information so as to provide multiple perspectives, and that instructors should employ challenging but not overwhelming instructional and evaluation methods that allow students to find their best tension level of learning. The paper also relates these ideas to the educational philosophy and methods of John Dewey and Maria Montessori.