There are major differences in the individual development of young people; differences in both physical and cognitive abilities. Those talents are primarily genetically determined. The environment then determines whether or not the potential talents
Conversely, it doesn't work. A highly inspiring environment cannot conjure up talents that are not there. This does not alter the fact that a structured, inspiring environment can limit the negative consequences for a child at risk.
Children from a socio-economic disadvantaged environment therefore have a double problem. The family of families from disadvantaged backgrounds has often been at the bottom of society for generations. The genetically determined cognitive talents have lagged
behind and the environment in which these children grow up is not school-oriented. However, this starting position need not be hopeless. Genetically determined abilities are not static. Major changes can occur in a relatively short time, especially under the
influence of sexual selection. Education can also have a very positive influence on this. A large number of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the paupers and unskilled workers of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth
have emancipated themselves and socialized themselves. The mulo and later the mavo played a crucial role in this. These school types were not characterized by inspiring subject matter that matched the pupils' perception of the world. The education was boring
and strict. Students had little to say or choose. Yet it is precisely these school types that have emancipated the working class environment in a short period of time and prepared it for a new post-industrial society.
If an adolescent does not become
motivated despite inspiring material that also fits in with his experience, it is his own fault. If he had put in more effort he would have been successful too. This is one of the most depressing facets of today's secondary education.
Talent has to do with the speed with which the brain processes information and with the efficiency with which it retains sensory stimuli in the working memory. In that working memory, that information is compared with the information
already present in the long-term memory. Children with more cognitive talent think more in relationships between information and are more likely to cluster that information into meaningful patterns. They think less in separate boxes. Clustering information
and re-integrating those clusters into meta-clusters is essential for learning, because working memory is used much more efficiently in this way. In order to form clusters based on meaning, one must be able to categorize and generalize the information so that
the information comes into a larger context. Categorizing and generalizing are only possible if someone is able to abstract, that is, to separate information from concrete reality.
Most students cannot do this on their own. Teachers should help them make
those connections by explicitly building the right examples and metaphors into the explanations. In the first instance, this explanation should be as unambiguous as possible, but as students become more talented, side roads and alternatives can be offered.
However, this needs to be carefully considered, because these alternatives activate neural networks that affect the original neural clusters and can therefore still lead to confusion in students and subsequently to incorrect conceptions.
In addition to
these linguistic thinking strategies, visual-spatial strategies are important for processing information. The latter strategies have been pushed into the background in education due to the great emphasis on communication. Mathematics, for example, has been
made more and more concrete at the expense of abstract reasoning. Instead of talking about a square, it is about a paving stone. It is questionable whether this concretization has helped students very much.
is necessary to learn but it is not the same. It's a confusing mistake made by the advocates of learning styles. The proponents of learning styles assume that children have a dominant style of learning and therefore benefit from teaching material in a visual,
auditory or kinetic (touch) manner. The underlying assumption is that information entering through one sensory channel is processed in the brain independently of information entering through another sensory channel. The information would then be learned independently
of each other. So that, for example, visual information is processed differently than auditory information and is also learned independently of auditory information. That assumption is incorrect.
In fact, we make no sensory representation, no mental images,
in the areas of the brain where the sensory stimuli enter. It is only in working memory that a sense of sensory perception is created by a combination of sensory stimuli and stimuli from long-term memory. The way in which this happens is discussed in detail
on other pages.