How can biology inform education – let me count the ways.
Let’s start by noting that, odd as it sounds, human beings are fundamentally living organisms. What is true of the most basic organism is true of us, all the way through to our brain stem simple brain. Living things by nature seek to live, to thrive. There’s not a living thing that seeks out its own self-destruction or merely desires to stagnate. (yes, there are examples of insects that do take actions which lead to their death, but the do so for the good of the species) Human beings are no different. At root we wish to live, grow and thrive.
What’s this got to do with the eight year old in geography class in PS 12? He also wants to discover himself and become the best version of himself that he can be. He wants to thrive.
If we can learn from the basics of biology what life is about at root, we will see in students some basic truths about growth and development. We will learn that they are motivated to learn because that is what thriving is: a desire to improve one’s condition. If we can recognize this then maybe we can shift the traditional model to take it into consideration and stop trying to wrench motivation away from students and take it on as the adult’s role. It is NOT our job to motivate students, and when we assume that mantle we rob them of that role. Shame on us. It is theirs rightly and we need to leave it with them.
Let’s be biologically respectful. Let’s not ignore the basic truths about how life grows. Human children follow the same truths.