Kenneth Wesson | Education Consultant and Neuroscientist

Kenneth Wesson

Education Consultant and Neuroscientist

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San Jose, CA, US

Kenneth Wesson

Kenneth Wesson is a former higher education faculty member and administrator. He delivers keynote addresses on the neuroscience of learning for educational organizations and institutions throughout the United States and overseas. His audiences range from early childhood specialists to university-level educators. Wesson's international audiences have included educators and administrative officers from six of the world's seven continents. His research is frequently published and referenced in Parents Magazine, HealthNet, and the journal Brain World.

Wesson regularly addresses educational organizations, counseling associations, school districts and parenting organizations on the subject of "brain-considerate" learning environments. In addition to his speeches on the neuroscience of learning, Wesson speaks on the subjects of early brain development, design and engineering, STEM and ST2REAM, social-emotional learning, and curriculum development. Wesson also serves on the advisory boards for the Korean Institute of Brain Science, Kids at Science, and the International Association of STEM Leaders. He is an active member of Scientists without Borders and he can be seen on PBS specials on human learning and the teenage brain. In 2017, Wesson was selected to receive the Marquis Who's Who Lifetime Achievement Award.

He has been a keynote speaker for many of the leading international educational organizations for American and International schools, including the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA), the Association of American Schools in South America (AASSA), Middle East North Africa (MENA), the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA), the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS), the Near East South Asia schools (NESA), along with numerous American educational organizations, school districts, and colleges.

He has been a keynote or featured speaker for a broad range of organizations, where his addresses were grounded in the question, "If It's Your Job to Develop the Mind, Shouldn't You Know How the Brain Works?" His Brain-STEM presentations focus on merging brain science and the goals of STEM education and Common Core.

Wesson has been profiled in "Who's Who in Science and Engineering," "Who's Who in American Education," and "Who's Who in America."

At the 2012 STEM Forum and Expo sponsored by the NSTA, Wesson and NASA astronaut Mary Ellen Weber delivered the keynote addresses. He was/will be a keynote or featured speaker for such diverse groups as the following: the Hawaii ASCD, International Symposium on Electronic Arts, the Distinguished Educators Series, the North Dakota School Boards Association, the Arkansas Leadership Academy, the Virginia Science Teachers Association, New Mexico Science Teachers Association, Migrant and Seasonal Workers HeadStart Programs, National Brain Awareness Week, and the Montalvo Arts Education Conference. His keynote addresses are frequently grounded in the question, "If It's Your Job to Develop the Mind, Shouldn't You Know How the Brain Works?" His Brain-STEM presentations focus on merging brain science and the goals of STEM education.

The NSTA and Shell Oil Company identify 4-6 people annually, who they recognize for making unique contributions to science research and education. Those individuals (the "Shell Science Scholars") are invited to address the members of the NSTA at their annual conference and are also honored at a special reception. This group includes the 1998 Nobel Prize winner for Physics, the Director of the Human Genome Project and Kenneth Wesson, who was recognized in 2011 for the second time within the past decade--a "first" for Shell Science Scholars. The NSTA is the world's largest educational organization (scientists, researchers and science educators) with over 53,000 members dedicated to the improvement of science education.

Kenneth Wesson
Featured Video

Current: Integrated Learning Summer Institute

Time 54:17

If It’s Your Job to Develop Young Minds, Shouldn’t You Know How Their Brains Work?

The brain is not only the most complex organ in the human body, but this “three-pound universe” has also been described as the most complex object known to mankind. Understanding how the young brain learns will help educators design classrooms that are “Brain-considerate” – where we capitalize on the brain’s natural inclinations for learning. Joseph Epstein stated that "We are what we read." Neuroscientists, however, would offer a differing viewpoint highlighting that “we are what we experience” instead.

Young learners create meaning from content through what they do, when they are actively engaged in sense-making and constructing internal visual models of their world (not necessarily through listening, textbooks and tests). The mind becomes what the brain does. Deploying teaching methods aligned with “how the brain works” will enhance the results of your instructional efforts, as well as the learning outcomes for young learners.

With the latest discoveries in cognitive science, the human brain is regaining its rightful place as the centerpiece for all conversations about learning in the contemporary early childhood educational environment.

Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom

Humankind has transitioned from the agricultural age to the industrial age to the information age. We are now well into the second decade of the "Innovation Age," yet creative thinking remains the bridesmaid to "standardized" thinking in most schools. However, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there is an inverse relationship between high test scores and entrepreneurship/creativity. Moreover, creativity (“CQ”) turns out to be three times more accurate as a predictor of lifetime accomplishment than IQ. The students who learn how “to play with ideas” to generate newer ideas are destined to accomplish far more than their less creative classmates.

S.T.2R.E.A.M. – A “Brain-considerate” Model for Student Learning

Once our students leave school, they often discover that real-world problems are almost invariably solved through an adaptable transdisciplinary process focused on the nature of a problem. It is not limited by the artificial constraints imposed by the content-area boundaries of any single subject area. Instead, solutions typically come by way of simultaneously utilizing our accumulated knowledge and skills from all of the S.T.2R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Thematic instruction, Reading/Language Arts, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) disciplines. Combined, S.T.2R.E.A.M. is not merely a collection of academic disciplines, but instead represents an instructional approach that mimics how professionals solve local and global challenges, where all of our cognitive resources converge to serve our “applied human knowledge.” The defining goal of formal education is not the accumulation of knowledge, but an understanding of the applications of knowledge.

If we hope to cultivate students who can solve problems in the future, then we must reorganize our educational delivery approaches to match the thinking processes regularly deployed by contemporary innovators and problem solvers. The S.T.2R.E.A.M. model embeds student learning in active long-term investigations that are experience-rich, language-rich, and print-rich.

According to several sources, “…no one has delivered more STEM keynote addresses and seminars at state, national, and international conferences” than our presenter, Neuroscientist Kenneth Wesson (see attached brief bio). Participants in this workshop will learn how to merge the CCSS E/LA standards, the California ELD standards, and the Next Generation Science Standards into engaging, brain-considerate, student-centered learning.

Merging STEM, Common Core, and the NGSS

The human brain learns by making relevant connections, which is why cognitive scientists contributed to the development of the Common Core, the Next Generation Science Standards, and STEM education. Today’s educators are undertaking the unprecedented challenge of digesting and implementing these three reform initiatives simultaneously, but in isolation. STEM is best delivered via a “ST2REAM” model where Science, Technology and Thematic instruction, Reading/LA, Engineering, Art and Mathematics are conjoined through meaningful interdisciplinary learning experiences. The acronym STEM should stand for “Students and Teachers Enjoying every Minute” of the school day, because content is finally connected and the content suddenly makes sense!

Kenneth Wesson
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