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Brain Scanning Classrooms

Optical topography in the classroom
  (+5, -11)(+5, -11)
(+5, -11)
  [vote for,

With the invention of a mostly portable, compact brain scanning system (link), it should be easy to monitor childrens' brains during class.

I propose a classroom with brain helmets at each desk. When a student's brain is active in the appropriate region (say, math), they get points. This is added as another metric of learning in addition to tests and homework, to help motivate students to pay attention and focus on learning instead of other distractions.

The system will likely be expensive at first, but the technology itself is fairly simple - you just need a central IR laser, a central IR sensor, a fast computer, some fiber optics, and custom helmets.

Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

Hitachi Optical Topography system http://www.pinktent...-machine-interface/
[Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006]

intraparietal sulcus http://www.seedmaga...ead_for_numbers.php
For [po] [Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006]


       which bit (region) of the brain is devoted to maths? I thought it was pretty widespread.   

       or do you just want to know which students are asleep or daydreaming?
po, Nov 16 2006

       Math appears to generally take place in the intraparietal sulcus. Yes, the main point is to keep children from daydreaming, but I can imagine all kinds of benefits - from evaluating teaching styles to finding learning problems in children.
Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

       "intraparietal sulcus for po" would you believe me if I said no-one has ever said that to me before.   

       I can say intraparietal but how do you pronounce sulcus?
po, Nov 16 2006

       Like "sulk" and "us" put together. But I had to look that up.   

       Damnit, [po]. I'm an engineer, not a doctor.
Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

       how could we forget?
po, Nov 16 2006

       That time he came to a halloween party dressed as "Worldctor" probably threw you off.
shapu, Nov 16 2006

       and that time I took him for a worldherapist and I told him all my darkest thoughts.
po, Nov 16 2006

       I was wondering about that. I just assumed you told everyone about your childhood experiences with your cat and the washing machine.
Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

po, Nov 16 2006

       Sorry. Here, strap this helmet on and we can work on reducing the stabbing compuslsion you were talking about.
Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

       its a bit tight!
po, Nov 16 2006

       It goes on your head, [po].
Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

po, Nov 16 2006

       I think that there is more brain activity going on when someone is daydreaming in lieu of paying attention to the teacher's lecture.
Jscotty, Nov 16 2006

       Maybe, but it's probably in the wrong part of the brain. Unless you daydream about equations (ok, some of us do).   

       Either way, my guess is that daydreaming looks a lot different than thinking about math.
Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

       Does this device not train students to be as narrow-minded as possible? It is implied that they will be called into question if they start using multiple parts of their brain.   

       I think that that is a bad thing.
Texticle, Nov 16 2006

       Maybe. But the case I'm thinking about is lower-level math. It would certainly be interesting to find out if there are children who use other parts of their brain for such subjects. Who knows, maybe this technique will open up new teaching opportunities.
Worldgineer, Nov 16 2006

       i'm already thinking snarky thoughts in class, don't want my teacher knowing it. just causes problems [-]
abhorsen1983, Nov 16 2006

       of course, all the teachers are hooked up to a monitor in the head's office.   

       ...and all the headteachers are hooked up to an administrator at Ofsted...   

       ...and the administrator at Ofsted is hooked up to a screen in the office of the current Minister for Education...   

       ... whose brain and activity is being examined by A level students as part of the curriculum in politics and the education system.   



       n.b. this might be a neat idea for someone taking part in the competition that jutta just linked to.
po, Nov 17 2006

       Please no. I thought that whilst they may control practically my every move, they could not control my mind.   

       People can't help but think of other things. I mean, I think of all sorts of other things when I'm in class, particularly about the blank expressions on everyone elses face, but I still learn.   

       //strap this helmet on//   

       Let's see what happens if we strap it to a cat...
froglet, Nov 17 2006

       - "Great Scott!"
- "What is it professor?"
- "The classroom brain scanning device! - Apparantly some of these adolescent boys are thinking about sex during maths class!"
hippo, Nov 17 2006

       A million stinky bones for you. If I had to constantly control my thoughts because someone was listening in, I would cease to be me. My behaviors and speech are modified to match the expectations of society. If my mind follows? I'm just a cog.
GutPunchLullabies, Nov 17 2006

       //I used to read a lot in class during lectures. My teacher thought I was being rude and not paying attention, yet every time she called a pop-quiz to try to catch me at it, I'd ace it. Every time.//   

       I did that a lot in primary school. Most of my teachers didn't mind, mainly coz I did the work, and because I was reading well beyond my age.   

       But then there was this one teacher...   

       And it is because of that one teacher that makes me against this idea. Give it to someone like her and she would take delight in abusing it. She already has the advantage of teaching kids not old enough to realise that she is not god and that she is equally as fallible as everyone else, so it'd be better not to give self riteous, domineering bitches like her more power than she and others like her are entitled to.   

       </rant> I really didn't like that teacher.
froglet, Nov 17 2006

       //Primary school is just babysitting// tell that to a primary school teacher!   

       our kids last term had a scientist in to give a demonstration of nitrogen and its abilities.   

       the year before that they created four huge mosaics for the playground.   

       their poetry is to die for.   

       they learn to read and write in the reception class and how to use a computer.   

       gawd I miss them.
po, Nov 17 2006

       //I've found that I learn most effectively when my mind is on something else and I pick up the lesson at the periphery of my attention, kind of like subliminal messaging.// Fabulous! And all these years, teachers have been discouraging daydreaming when it could be a very effective teaching tool. Until we have some means to measure these things, we can't use them to our advantage. In monitoring brain activity along with test scores, we could find out all kinds of new teaching and learning techniques that can be used. If the daydreaming part of the brain helps learning, perhaps daydreaming will start to be encouraged.   

       //If I had to constantly control my thoughts because someone was listening in, I would cease to be me.// This doesn't change a thing. There's not going to be a monitor showing your thoughts of the teacher naked, it just shows if you're thinking about the subject or not. I'd argue much of these signs already exist - your teachers can already tell that you're daydreaming, this is just a tool to quantify this.   

       //random smart-*sounding* bullshit being poured into my ears, and I called them on it every time// Good. Keep calling them on it. This won't change that, except in giving administrators a new tool to find out what teachers are actually stimulating minds.
Worldgineer, Nov 17 2006

       So If I can submit data that shows the right part of my brain is stimulated, I can play on the monkey bars and skip math entirely?
GutPunchLullabies, Nov 20 2006

       Just this once. But only because you're doing so well on your times tables.
Worldgineer, Nov 20 2006

       I don't think I understand the problem. What is wrong with day dreaming? Kinda what the HB is all about, Right?
Chefboyrbored, Nov 20 2006

       This brings some major privacy issues up. Even if the system works, it is much more likely to recognize the differences in brain scan patterns of sleeping, wakefulness, anger, fear, lust, and boredom than to isolate any particular mental patterns for math, history, art, english, and woodshop.   

       moreover, even if it can recognize the needed "mental" patterns, the other mental patterns will still be visible, and I'll thank you very much to not record my periods of anger and lustfullness.   

       Assuming that the system works, and there is indeed some way to "teach" in order to induce certain states of mental activity, what will follow next?   

       Won't the government start to mandate recommended levels of mental activity in the students? Just how much individuality will students have if they know the teacher can tell when they are mad, when they are lustful, and when they are afraid? What sort of people would we be like if during our formative years the government had mandated that we think about particular subjects for six hours every day of our lives? Just how many troubled students would EVER show up to school if they knew there was a brain scanner waiting for them?   

       This is not a learning tool, it is a dystopian nightmare!
ye_river_xiv, Nov 20 2006

       [ye_r] Government? This would never work for public school - I think the votes here prove that. I was thinking this would be marketable for a private school. Prove that it's successful and parents will stand in line to sign up.   

       [chef] Daydreaming can be good. But most parents want their children to learn in class. I'm not prescribing the criteria, only offering a service to fit.
Worldgineer, Nov 20 2006

       Sometimes, different people use different areas of the brain for doing similar jobs.   

       <bee in bonnet>
One of the findings I've seen from research into Asperger Syndrome is that, where the frontal cortex doesn't work very well, people use another part of their brain to model other people's behaviour. It's not so efficient as using a healthy frontal cortex, but it's better than nothing. (Sorry, can't find a link).

       So, what if...
the intraparietal sulcus of some 'arithmophobic' person were failing to light up in maths class,
*not* because the person was slacking,
*but* because there was something wrong with their IPS, and they were trying their best to work around it?
pertinax, Nov 21 2006

       What if? Then you've just help diagnose something that they must have been unaware of. This is just providing more information, and that's almost never bad.
Worldgineer, Nov 21 2006

       You'd have to be careful that some brilliant new concept doesn't get treated as a lack of concentration.
Dub, Nov 21 2006

       I'm against this on grounds that while studies might show that, in general, certain areas of the brain might be suited for certain modes of thought - it's perfectly possible for entirely opposite regions of the mind to perform just as well, if not better, in terms of modelling, and toying with, an idea.   

       For example, I add numbers up in my head by performing a very pedestrian counting (with associated nods of the head, tounge slackening and finger placeholding) meanwhile, I heard someone (who may have been autistic), not that it matters) who visualised arithmetic as some kind of intertwining helical arrangement that, by some clever mental manipulation, would spin and entwine and unfurl into and out of itself.   

       So, as [Dub] says, a device such as this might serve to promote the thought processes of the pedestrian majority at the possible detriment of those with real flashes of genius.
zen_tom, Nov 21 2006

       I wonder if World came up with this idea at work or at home on his own time.
Chefboyrbored, Nov 21 2006

       The nice thing is, my work brain scanner can't tell the difference between halfbaking and real engineering. But if I wander off topic the electrodes power up that are connected to my GAAAH! GOD NO!
Worldgineer, Nov 21 2006

       {Thinks about buying Zen_Tom a "Maths Bib" for Christmas; to protect his clothes from his dribble while he's at work}
Dub, Nov 21 2006

       I'd imagine that most students would balk at the idea of wearing helmets at school. In modern private schools, the plaid skirts are troublesome enough already...   

       Thus there would be a market to develop advanced models that could be implanted, or used remotely without contact to the student. These advanced models might easily be used for less benign purposes.
ye_river_xiv, Nov 22 2006

       I don't often bone an idea but this is one of the worst Ive read. Read my thoughts essentially? Think about that Worldgineer I was bored out of my skull in school and I'm sure you were too. You might as well hook it up to a shocking device so the smarter kids can see how much current they can take. They will at least have something to do since we have the "no child allowed to go ahead of the slow child" rule. That's in the US anyway.
pydor, Nov 22 2006

       //no child allowed to go ahead of the slow child// what a concept!
po, Nov 22 2006

       [py] I certainly understand your point, but I think teachers will as well. If enough of the class is bored, move the teaching up a notch. Yes, this may need to lead to other changes like study sessions for the slower children, but imagine the potential for increased learning. Think of all of the time in school children waste daydreaming when they just need more advanced lessons.
Worldgineer, Nov 22 2006

       [po] I refer to the no child left behind initiative in the US, from what I've seen with my kids it has led to an across the board dumbing down of the curriculum. Teachers are required to get their students proficient in predetermined benchmarks if they don't the school may lose government funding. Smart kids teach themselves and the teachers spend any extra time with the slower students. I'm NOT saying they shouldn't spend more time just not all the extra time. [Worldgineer], Your idea is a good one in theory. However it is already baked, at least in a research environment and your use would inevitably be abused. Look in New Scientist "it's a UK journal" under mind reading I think it was a month or two ago cover noted article. If taught by computer as in several SF stories brain scanning would get a bun I will remove my bone because the idea has possibilities but in your description it has too much potential for abuse. Daydreaming is essential for creative thought. Maybe use your device as a study aid kind of a bio-feedback loop.
pydor, Nov 23 2006

       //led to an across the board dumbing down of the curriculum// but I agree with you.   

       here, in theory, every child works at his/her own speed and encouraged to move on. I believe the buzzword is differentiation.   

       even smart kids need stimulation and encouragement and that is why we have initiatives and budgets earmarked for *gifted and talented*. smart kids have their own problems and sometimes hide their abilities for fear of bullying or being left out of the crowd.
po, Nov 23 2006

       And that occurs because educators are not allowed to select on the basis of ability.
angel, Nov 23 2006

       Not exactly. in my secondry school (I think it was representative of most English state schools in the 'nineties) we were divided into sets according to ability from year nine onwards. We had just as much anti-intelectual crap as any other system. Kids avoid bullying through confidence rather than ability, hence why a fool who thinks he is great does better (in the short term at least) than the genius who doesn't think he is bright enough.
stilgar, Nov 23 2006

       This could actually be really useful for research, but I can't imagine it benefiting the research subjects.
GutPunchLullabies, Nov 27 2006


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