Educational Psychologist says Education System Must Adapt to be Relevant

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Melanie West, an educational psychologist and co-founder of the non-profit Right Side Literacy Project, recently spoke about the current education system in the United States. “If we want to improve our education system,” she said, “we need to stop ignoring what neuroscience has discovered and change how we teach students.”

right side literacy project logo

The non-profit Right Side Literacy Project

We know so much about how the brain is designed to think and learn, yet we stick with outdated, ineffective methods that were created 100 years ago.

“Look at how much our world has changed in just the last decade alone. Computers, the Internet, Facebook. Then look at school: we run schools in America the same way we did 100 years ago.”

Melanie West, co-founder of the Right Side Literacy Project and The Right Side of Learning, recently spoke on the major obstacle to improving schools.

“The neuroscience field has made major steps in understanding how we learn,” said West. “But our education system does not implement any of this. We know so much about how the brain is designed to think and learn, yet we stick with outdated, ineffective methods that were created 100 years ago.”

West states that recent discoveries in the neuroscience field have uncovered that learning only occurs when the brain has built a meaningful conceptualization. Memorization frequently does not transfer to conceptual understanding and therefore does not lead to true learning.

Says West, “Where this really is an issue is early in a child’s life. From the very first day of Kindergarten, rote memorization is a cornerstone to the curriculum. In fact, 50-60% of the words K-2 students read were taught to them through rote memorization only. Therefore, many students do not truly understand these words, leading to learning difficulties later in life.”

West and her non-profit, the Right Side Literacy Project, plan to find more effective alternatives to rote memorization.

As they continue to help education, more and more schools are realizing the importance of changing how students are taught. In a recent New York Times article, Jenny Anderson highlighted one school in New York City that has taken steps to update education.

Stated Anderson: “From the beginning, the founders wanted to incorporate scientific research about childhood development into the classroom.”

In the same article, the school’s director of curriculum documentation and research said the following: “Schools were not applying this new neurological science out there to how we teach children...Our aim is to take those research tools and adapt them to what we do in the school.”

About the Right Side Literacy Project

The Right Side Literacy Project sets out to give young learners, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances, the best tools to think and learn through the written word.  Using a neuroscience approach to literacy, The Right Side Literacy Project aims to create reading and writing mastery for all young learners.

Having been successfully piloted in kindergarten classes in Lawndale, California, the Right Side Literacy Project is now accepting qualified applicants. Funding is available for eligible schools.

For more information, please visit The Right Side Literacy Project website.

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Brandon Yanofsky
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