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Neuroscience at WECREATE: Learning

06 Dec 2012

Our co-founder Araceli Camargo has begun her Master in Neuroscience at Kings College. Below are some of her experiences and insight.

Science for me is completely new territory, and my first observation is around language. The first class we had was on quantitative chemistry. Because I had little linguistic reference to the subject, I was not just unable to understand what the professor was saying, but was also unable to ask any questions. It was as if I was completely lost in a new environment without any light, so even the simplest form of learning was impossible. This was quite interesting, especially in the context of education and class systems.

When a child comes from a low socio-economic background, their education is often truncated by trauma, neglect, malnourishment, etc. One of the first cognitive effects of this is on linguistic aptitude. Many affected kids lack the language to express even the simplest concepts, which makes learning extremely difficult for them. Even learning the basics is difficult. Consequently, many get further and further behind until they fall out of the system.

I am finding that without basic language comprehension in a subject, it is very difficult for the brain to create associations, which then makes learning very difficult. The other observation is that we are limited to thinking within the parameters of our existing knowledge. So, as I had never been exposed to quantitative chemistry, I had no thought pathways to question the world within that context.

Literally, the less we know the less we can question and the less we are able to aptly understand our own environment. To bring this to innovation: how can we expect a nation to innovate if we do not put an emphasis on equal, quality education? Both the US and UK are cutting educational budgets, leaving young minds at risk of not having the basic skills for cognitive aptitude. And if these young minds lack something as basic as language, how do we expect them to ask interesting and vast questions? Without that we do not have innovation.