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science-smart

The Science of Smart

Researchers have long been searching for better ways to learn. In recent decades, experts working in cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience have opened new windows into how the brain works, and how we can learn to learn better. In this program, we look at some of the big ideas coming out of brain science. We meet the researchers who are unlocking the secrets of how the brain acquires and holds on to knowledge. And we introduce listeners to the teachers and students who are trying to apply that knowledge in the real world.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Invest in early childhood education

File under: child care, education

0 (0 votes)

From: Elizabeth P., Chapel Hill, NC

I'm a researcher at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, working on ways to close the achievement gap between children raised in poverty and other children. The results of one of the studies I work on, the Abecedarian Project, provides strong evidence that early childhood education in a high quality child care setting can have long lasting effects (we now have data through age 30) on the educational outcomes of these children, including more likely to go to college. Higher education is associated with higher economic outcomes -- thus a way to fight poverty!

Further, both neurological research and economic research demonstrate that the earlier in life we begin, the easier it is and the less expensive it is to achieve these results. The cost-benefits analysis of our study found that for every $1 spent, society got back $2.50 (from higher taxes paid on higher incomes because of better educational outcomes). Another long-term study of early educational intervention for children raised in poverty, the Perry Preschool Project, found for every $1 spent, over $12 was saved in reduced crime rates. So, my vote for tackling this problem: working with families and young children from birth. The science backs up this approach very clearly.


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American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
science-smart

The Science of Smart

Researchers have long been searching for better ways to learn. In recent decades, experts working in cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience have opened new windows into how the brain works, and how we can learn to learn better. In this program, we look at some of the big ideas coming out of brain science. We meet the researchers who are unlocking the secrets of how the brain acquires and holds on to knowledge. And we introduce listeners to the teachers and students who are trying to apply that knowledge in the real world.

Recent Posts

  • 08.20.14

    Variation is key to deeper learning

    Humans obviously learn a lot of things through trial-and-error. A level of "desirable difficulty" built into a learning and exam process appears to boost the overall retention of new skills or knowledge.
  • 08.19.14

    Learning to love tests

    If there's consensus on anything in education, it's this: Tests are awful. But maybe we've been thinking about tests all wrong. Research shows that tests can actually be powerful tools for learning -- but only if teachers use them right.
  • 08.19.14

    Paul Tough on how children succeed

    Paul Tough talks about his new book, How Children Succeed. He says it's character that matters when it comes to learning. Children need curiosity, optimism and self-control.
  • 08.18.14

    This is your brain on language

    For decades psychologists cautioned against raising children bilingual. They warned parents and teachers that learning a second language as a child was bad for brain development. But recent studies have found exactly the opposite.