Posted on behalf of Anneliese A. Pontius:
I should like to add a relevant historical perspective to your article “Neuro-Ethics.” I coined this term in l973, as confirmed in writing to me by Wm Shirer of New York Times fame, the expert in new concepts.
I am pleased to learn from your quotation of Prof. Ken Kosik’s statement that “the interest among educators in neuroscience is enormous” and that you contrast this statement to your report that “many education-focused companies have made grandiose assertions about the science behind their commercial products” (including textbooks, I may add).
At least analogous to such “commercial products” have been certain long-lasting teaching practices based on textbooks at least as far back as the l970’s. For example the “whole word” method of teaching to read has been in sharp contrast to the neuroanatomical developmental stages required for beginning readers; however my warning publications were largely neglected.
Applying this neuroanatomically uninformed reading method amounted to nonconsensual experimentation with millions of U.S. school children without knowing the consequences. Thus, this anti-neuroscientific reading method cannot be ruled out as a contributory factor to the then officially reported 26 million “functional dyslexcics” in the U.S., impacting on their self-esteem.
I completely agree with your final quotation by Prof. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang that “there are general principles that you can take from that and apply across fields, and that have implications for way we teach math, reading and more normative pathways” in reference to comments by Prof. Gottried Schlaug. Such statements render my publications on Neuro-Ethics between l973 and 2000 still relevant.
Of note also is that your comments about dyslexics apparently consider exclusively verbal dyslexia, neglecting visuo-spatial dyslexia, which constitutes about one third of dyslexics.
For more information, please see in particular:
Pontius AA. Neuro-ethics vs. Neurophysiologically and neuropsychologically uninformed influence in child rearing, education, emerging hunter-gatherers, and artificial intelligence models of the brain. Psychological Reports, 1993; 72: 451-458.
Pontius AA. Educational Neuro-Ethics. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 2000:3; 368.
Anneliese A. Pontius, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor (ret.), Harvard Medical School