The first Latin American School for Education, Cognitive and Neural Sciences was held from 7 to 18 March, 2011 in San Pedro de Atacama Chile.
The LA School was founded as an initiative of the James S. McDonnell Foundation and organized in collaboration with the Centro de Investigación Avanzada en Educación, Universidad de Chile /
Center for Advanced Research in Education.
The results of this school are impressive. Students and faculty worked together to explore new solutions to fill the existing gap between Cognitive and Neural Sciences, and Education.
The results are illustrated in a series of projects proposals dedicated to study several issues concerning learning in the classroom.
We are confident that the LA School in Atacama fostered a new generation of researchers who are able to operate at the interface between Education and Science.
. The LASchool in Atacama focused in the discussion of general, language-reading and logic-mathematical learning from a Cognitive and Neural Science perspective.
. Thirty five faculty presented their latest research to students, emphasizing the relevance of specific issues concerning education.
. Demonstration sessions illustrated methodological aspects relevant to educational practice.
. Project preparation promoted the beginning of a new kind of scientific approach to explore language, reading, logic and mathematic learning in the classroom from a Cognitive and Neural Sciences standpoint.
A MESSAGE OF SINCERE THANKS
Marcela Peña, Sidarta Ribeiro and Mariano Sigman, local organizers of The Latin American School for Education, Cognitive and Neural Sciences, San Pedro de Atacama, 2011, express their sincere gratitude to the James S. McDonnell Foundation and to the professors, students, sponsors, administrative staff and service personnel who contributed to the realization and success of our school.
We believe that the LA School effectuated a profound impact on a group of scientists insterested in constructing bridges. These were bridges that not only connect ideas, but also connect these ideas to the classroom, from the classroom to the children, from the children to the professors, and from the professors to the teachers and to the general society; bridges that are lively beings that nourish themselves from those passing through them, that are flexible but rigorous and always demand excellence, and that are capable of self-evaluation and of correcting cycles that do not lead to successful education.
The bridges that we saw emerge from the LA School contain this expression of soundness, warmth and energy of the scientist that wants to know more in order to confront new challenges and contribute to the construction of a better society.
In schools worldwide, children confront questions day to say, such as:
. How does one add complex numbers?
. Is there or is there not oxygen in the air?
. What is the meaning of the word, “prompter”?
. Scientific name of the swallow?
. What is the formula for sulfuric anhydride?
. How does one add fractions of different denominators?
. Names of five Finnish poets?
. Least common multiple of two and three?
. Origin of the solar system?
. How does one say “chalkboard” in French?
. Respiratory apparatus of amphibians?
. How long would it take a train to arrive at the moon?
. How does one explain the hydrostatic paradox?
. How do ferns reproduce?
. What is the longest river in the world?
… (extract of a poem by Nicanor Parra)
However, just as the poet points out, the real truth of things is that children are people of action and through their eyes, the world is reduced to the size of a soccer ball and test questions are not by default an activity that opens their minds or grants them well-being.
The challenge of achieving a better education is in the hands of many people and institutions, including professors, families and governments. Nevertheless, we scientists cannot stay at the margin. The scientific view cannot help but contribute to confronting, in the best way possible, problems related to a topic of worldwide interest that seeks to improve education in order to build abilities relevant for successful performance in modern life.
The essence of the LA School lies in the fact that this challenge was not only recognized by the school’s participants, but that it was also discussed, examined, rethought, felt and understood as a rising venture, as a first sketch of a bridge constructed on the basis of reflections that professors and students shared about the reality of learning in schools and that were manifested in innovative projects.
In sum, we feel that the LA School is good news for science and for education and that Latin America is now a better place after our school. As such, thank you very much!
Let's keep talking waiting for 2012...