Mind, Brain, and Education, a new journal released this week, is the first focused exclusively on the emerging field relating biology and cognitive science with education.
“It’s a big deal for us,” says Professor Kurt Fischer, director of the Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Program at the Ed School and creator of the journal. “We are leading the effort to solidly ground applications of biology to education by promoting strong research and good science.”
The journal, which will be published quarterly by Blackwell Publishers and the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society (IMBES), features research reports, conceptual papers, reviews, debates, and dialogue. The first issue, which is already web published and slated for print publication this week, will feature five articles from top neuroscientists, biologists, and educators.
Fischer and his colleagues in the MBE Program have long recognized the need for the journal to provide a forum for research and dialogue about connections between biology, cognitive science, and education.
Fischer started MBE nearly 10 years ago in an effort to bring together biology and cognitive science with education. Since then, Fischer has traveled around the U.S. and the world to broaden the scope and interest in mind, brain, and education. The journal will give the field a voice and a forum for moving forward connections between research and educational practice, he says.
Bridging the gap for many neuroscientists and biologists focused on education has been an issue in the field—since no appropriate journal existed to publish such research. Education journals were somewhat “ambivalent about publishing biology,” and similarly neuroscience and biology journals were hesitant to publish about education, Fischer says.
Blackwell approached Fischer almost six years ago about their interest in creating this journal. “It was gratifying because we were trying to build the field,” Fischer says of Blackwell’s interest. However, the timing wasn’t right since he was working on building the MBE Program and launching the IMBES.
About a year after the IMBES launch in 2004, members began asking for a journal to publish and read about research work. As a result, Fischer began pursuing the journal again. Though many publishing companies were interested in the journal, Blackwell was the best fit for IMBES and the field.
“It’s really quite exciting,” he said. “The most gratifying thing is that many of the best scientists really want to connect to this [journal] and to build the link between research and practice in education.”
The first issue features papers by several prominent scientists doing work connecting biology with education, including Stanislas Dehaene, a young French neuroscientist who is one of the most creative stars of cognitive neuroscience in the world. “He is doing wonderful work on brain bases of mathematics and consciousness,” Fischer says. “When we contacted him about the journal, he was enthusiastic and agreed to write a big paper on the nature of cognitive neuroscience for the first issue.”
Articles featured in the first issue include “Generalist Genes: Genetic Links Between Brain, Mind, and Education,” “We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education,” “How Can Genomics Inform Education?,” “A Few Steps Toward a Science of Mental Life,” and “Are There Separate Neural Systems for Spelling? New Insights into the Role of Rules and Memory in Spelling from Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.”
“It’s going to have a major shaping effect on the field,” Fischer says. “When trying to put together biology and cognitive science with practice in education you have to do research differently. It’s not enough to just work in a laboratory, but the lab work needs to be connected to what happens in classrooms.”
The journal has already garnered great interest and response. Not only do all 150 members of the IMBES receive the journal (a subscription is free with membership), but many libraries across the world have already subscribed as well.
Ultimately, Fischer says the journal will be a great resource not only for scientists but also educators. “The goal is that a lot of teachers and educational leaders will be interested in this too,” he says.