José Ramón Gamo

Child neuropsychologist and teacher

"Children can no longer continue to learn by subject area alone. They have to learn by doing things"

José Ramón Gamo explains how we can include neurodidactics and science in education.

I hated school as I had learning difficulties. I had dyslexia. I still do, as dyslexia is a lifelong condition. Today we call it attention deficit disorder. That's why I'm here with you today.

I'm convinced that education is the only peaceful revolution possible. We have to change what we do in classrooms, and this change must be based on scientific knowledge. Education cannot continue to turn its back on science. What we do is gather information from neuroscience research and then consider it in relation to a classroom environment in order to design learning processes and to provide teachers with the tools they need to learn how to teach. All humans learn as an intrinsic part of their nature. However, we can't make other people learn.

I can do things to inspire and encourage people to learn. The phrase that encapsulates my objective is: Let's stop trying to teach children things they never do and start to do things with them so they can learn. Science shows us that the brain learns by doing, and this is something we have known about for a long time. Children have to repeat educational actions for thousands of hours before they learn anything significant, not listen to classroom diatribes or perform repetitive tasks mechanically that don't involve reasoning.

It is very important that children learn to reason and develop a critical mind. They must be able to think critically in order to deal with situations in the real world when we are no longer by their side and they must be equipped with the tools they need to continue developing.

There are two points you must consider when dealing with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The first is what you have to do to help the child learn. and the second is how to understand the situation you're dealing with in the classroom. Why do I say this? Children with ADHD often have substantial intellectual abilities. There is no correlation between ADHD and intellectual ability.

Children with ADHD can usually function very well when they're interested in something. They are often very alert and clever, and yet, there are certain expectations as regards their intellectual ability. However, I don't think these children have a neurological dysfunction as regards important issues such as organizational ability. Or their ability to concentrate for extended periods of time. Or their ability to control their impulses and not interrupt much more frequently than other children do. Or the fact that they behave in a way a ten-year old child should have grown out of.

It is very important that teachers are informed about what is happening neurologically with these children and understand that they way they behave is always going to be what you would expect from a child three or four years younger with respect to autonomy, planning, concentration, impulse control, ability to moderate their emotions, etc., and not associate their conduct with intellectual ability.

Find out more about José Ramón Gamo

José Ramón Gamo is a child neuropsychologist who strongly believes that children need perseverance and a growth mindset in order to build on their abilities. He thinks that scientific knowledge and neurodidactics should be included in education to help children learn better.
How can you help a child with ADHD? The best thing you can do is get them to do a sporting activity as this will help balance their state of mind due to the release of endorphins, dopamine, etc. Dreaming is also very important. I'm really concerned about our ability to dream as the amount and quality of the time we spend asleep declines. Nutrition is also important. Some children go to school having had an inadequate breakfast, or not having eaten anything at all. The first thing I advise is to look after a child's health, as it is closely linked to their psychological wellbeing. We should also increase the number of times they feel pleased with themselves and look after their emotions. These children really need an emotional vocabulary. We must be able to describe and always validate their emotions.

"In order to learn, a child must believe that they can improve due to their effort and hard work rather than their intellectual capacity. This is what a growth mindset is, and teachers are responsible for helping children to develop one."

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