Why the Pace of Change Is So Slow in Schools: Examining the Research | Alden Blodget | 8 Min Read

September 11, 2023

In 2000, I met neuroscientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, then a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education (she is now a professor at the University of Southern California). We were both interested in the role of emotion in learning. Mary Helen was studying two high-functioning boys each of whom had had half his brain removed in order to control epilepsy, one the right hemisphere, the other the left hemisphere. She wanted to understand how the boys used their emotional and cognitive strengths to compensate for these losses and develop skills that typically require both hemispheres. Since then, she has spent many years researching the relationship between emotional, cognitive, and neurological development.

My interest in emotion and learning began when I was a freshman in college and abandoned my intention to become a chemical engineer, fleeing to pursue a major in theater. I had been a “good” science student—good in the sense that I performed very well on tests because I could memorize anything. My grades were good (it didn’t matter whether I understood concepts, just that I could recall and regurgitate them) and I adored my science teacher, whose encouragement and courses I enjoyed for…

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Alden Blodget

Veteran teacher and administrator Alden S. "Denny" Blodget is the author of "Learning, Schooling and the Brain: New Research vs. Old Assumptions." He also helped create the Annenberg Foundation's Neuroscience & the Classroom. He is the editor for TeensParentsTeachers.org, a free online resource focusing on issues affecting young people and the adults who work with them.