So this week I am facilitating a discussion forum on “Whole Brain Teaching”. The best way to demonstrate this technique is through video. Here’s a link for this technique applied to a college Philosophy Class:
My first response to this video was to laugh. I took a great many Philosophy classes in University. This is the noisiest Philosophy class I have ever seen.
Personally, if I went to a class like this, I would not be able to tolerate it. I would quietly excuse myself and drop that class as quick as I could.
The big selling point of this technique is classroom management. The prompts allow teachers to control the pace and participation of the class. Many teachers swear by this method claiming to have seen great improvements in learning.
One of the things that drove me absolutely NUTS about researching this topic was the lack of scholarly material. There are tons of blogs and websites out there on the topic, but a review of several article databases at my college left me empty handed. I guess the argument could be made that with the accessibility and ease of internet mediums, the often times expensive and inaccessible scholarly mediums are on their way out, so a newish technique like Whole Brian Teaching might latch onto only the web. However, that would be inaccurate. Journals are still a very lively academic space, particularly in Education. The fact that Whole Brain Teaching is all but absent from this space, I think should be met with caution.
Another interesting quality I found doing this research is that there were very few critical views of Whole Brain Teaching. Most of the websites and blogs out there are written by proponents of the technique. In most cases, the material has a ‘sales pitch’ feel. The only real critical material you can find is a few news articles debunking some of the science claims proponents make.
It also occurred to me during the discussion forum I am facilitating that the student voice is absent. This is an interesting note to ponder in general, not just with Whole Brain Teaching. A good reflective practitioner I think should adapt to both student needs and reactions (I know these can often contradict). So the student voice should be present in evaluating teaching strategies. In the case of Whole Brain Teaching, this is definitely a voice I would like to hear from.