Our modern quest for understanding the brain is not unique to our time. Sacred Sanskrit scrolls describe Buddhist understanding of brain surgery and are almost three thousand years old. Archeologists in Turkey found skulls that show evidence of trepanation and have neat rectangular holes sawed out and healed over. Galen, a doctor of gladiators was the first known physician to conclude that our brains actually control us and, therefore, control out thoughts and emotions. We have the words of Shakespeare's Macbeth who advises us to "Raze out the written troubles of the brain." And, in times that are more recent, Diane Ackerman writes:
Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasuredome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag.
My hope is that through explicit instruction on the knowledge scientists have been able to provide us about the brain, students will get a better understanding of how and why people learn. Students will be given evidence and continually asked to examine and explain how this information affects metacognition, i.e. thinking about how they think. I hope to provide proof of the efficacy of comprehension strategies and allow students to draw their own conclusions about their merit. It is my belief that this proof will empower students and allow them to gain trust in their ability to learn. Trust will encourage students to be risk-takers in the classroom. Hopefully, confidence will be fortified and students will learn that they have the power to change how their brains work. Understanding why we do things helps them to intrinsically motivate. They are far more willing to do things they don't like doing if they concretely understand the purpose. This is especially important for students, like Joey, who have stressful school experiences. They can train their brains!