Are most teachers aware of the latest findings on how children think and learn? Research is limited, but a 2006 study by Arthur Levine indicated that teachers were confident in their knowledge: 81 percent said they understood how students learn “moderately well” or “very well.” But just 54 percent of school principals rated the understanding of their teachers that high.

Though U.S. teachers are required to learn some basic principles of psychology as part of their training, many report that their education is overly theoretical. In “Unlocking the Science of How Kids Think,” an article from our forthcoming Summer 2018 issue, Daniel T. Willingham proposes a change to the content of education-degree coursework, suggesting a deeper focus on consistencies in children’s thinking and a reduction in the amount of scientific theory we ask future teachers to learn. In her 2013 article “21st-Century Teacher Education,” Kate Walsh discusses the importance of teachers understanding cognitive psychology.

—Education Next

Last updated March 28, 2018