An Interview with Dr. David Sousa- Author of the Innovative Series “How the Brain Learns”


 When I spoke with Dr. Sousa last year, I wanted to spotlight two questions. 1-What was the impetus for writing his series on the brain which has thus far led to some 25 books on brain based learning. 2- Where he was focusing his aim towards in the near future.

Our conversation began by discussing staff development overall. He stressed that “it is important to have a common educational language and culture if you plan to make any real change in a school, district or other institution. Real change that impacts students doesn’t come from ‘pick and choose’ staff development programs.” I couldn’t agree more. Dr.Sousa went on to explain that when he worked for school districts, he centered his approach to staff development in this manner.

In 1985 he began to learn about brain science. He developed a strong interest in exploring this understanding and applying it to teaching. Much of teaching research at that time was driven by behavioral science. As the brain is where thinking and learning take place, he felt that in order to have more effective student learning, teachers needed to also understand the brain and how it works. This connection between brain research and teaching excited him. “I sought out like minds and formed a group with a mission to make teachers aware of this, its use and impact. And have been doing it ever since.”

The book that started it all, How the Brain Learns: A Classroom Teacher’s Guide, was first published in 1995 and he has written a study stream of ‘The Brain’ books since.

I asked Dr. Sousa what he was up to next. He said that for the last 6 years he has said he was going to retire but still hadn’t made the leap. However he admitted that he has “been slowing down and doing less travelling.” He doesn’t lead at as many district level workshops but is still often on the road presenting at larger venues.

Dr.Sousa also shared with me that he has been working steadily on his latest passion, emphasizing the importance and pushing for the reestablishment of the arts in school. He explained that with the push in classrooms across America to increase science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.), as a result, “the arts are being kicked out.” He went on to explain that arts and sciences “are both divergent thinking-not one answer rules.” They all require higher level thought and complement each other. Therefore he has been pushing to get the arts back into the equation, moving from the idea of S.T.E.M. to S.T.E.A.M – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

At the time of my interview, his latest book From STEM to STEAM: Using Brain-Compatible Strategies to Integrate the Arts by David A. Sousa and Thomas J. Pilecki(Mar 5, 2013) was in manuscript form and soon to be published. Now you can find it and his other books on Amazon or the SAGE Publishing website. http://www.sagepub.com/authorDetails.nav?contribId=505118

 

cropped foto of carol ann tomlinson Also check out the interview with Dr

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