An obituary for education—or not? — from by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Jennifer M. Zosh, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Elias Blinkoff, and Molly Scott


The science of learning offers a blueprint of how children in our future can and will succeed. For the last three decades, researchers made enormous progress in understanding how human brains learn. If we can teach in a way that capitalizes on these findings—if we can apply the science to the classrooms—we will have evidence-based ways of helping children grow the suite of skills that will make them successful in today’s classrooms and the workplaces of tomorrow. Our Brookings report, A New Path to Educational Reform and our book Making Schools Work: Bringing the Science of Learning to Joyful Classroom Practice, detail how this research in the science of learning can offer a scalable, evidenced based path to re-invigorating and re-imagining education for our time.

Children learn when they are active, not passive observers of what is taught. Children learn when they are engaged in the material and not distracted, when the information is meaningfully connected to their knowledge in ways that are culturally responsive. They learn best in social contexts, when there are strong teacher-student and peer relationships, when the information is iteratively presented multiple times in slightly different ways, and when the learning is joyful. Yes, it is possible to have joyful teaching that affords deeper learning. When we teach in ways that the brain learns, the learning “sticks” and generalizes to new problems and new solutions.