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Sep 25, 2014

The Science Of Smart

Credit Stephen Smith

Schools across the country are trying new ways to teach based on brain science. Teachers say current techniques are failing, but new approaches can help students learn more deeply.  

Until recently, we didn't know much about the best ways to learn. Now that's changing. Over recent decades, experts working in cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience have opened new windows into how the brain works, and how we can learn to learn better.

In this American RadioWorks program, we look at some of the big ideas coming out of brain science. We meet the researchers who are unlocking the secrets of how the brain acquires and holds on to knowledge. And we introduce listeners to the teachers and students who are trying to apply that knowledge in the real world.

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Greater Expectations: The Challenge Of The Common Core 

Credit Emily Hanford

There's plenty of controversy surrounding the Common Core, a new set of education standards adopted by most states. Getting less attention is what the standards actually say, and the fact that many teachers like them.

This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning.

Many teachers say those changes are desperately needed, but some are worried about new Common Core tests and whether they will help improve schools or get in the way of better education.

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The New Face Of College

Credit Suzanne Pekow

The 21st Century college student is likely to be older than traditional students.  She's more likely to be female, working and Hispanic or African-American.  She's more likely to be a mom. She's less likely to attend college full time or finish in four years.

This American RadioWorks documentary explores how universities are adapting to their new students. We visit Amherst College, a leader among elite schools in recruiting and serving non-traditional students.

We see how the University of Texas-El Paso, where most undergraduates are Hispanic and low-income, is becoming a top-tier research university.  And we travel to a tiny college on an Indian reservation in eastern Washington that is trying to bring liberal arts to migrant farm workers.

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Ready to Work: Reviving Vocational Ed

Credit Emily Hanford

Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today that kind of tracking smacks of classism. "College for all" is the new mantra. But not everyone wants to go to college, and nearly half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring career and technical education back.

This American RadioWorks documentary explores how vocational education has changed and how it's re-shaping debates about the purpose of school.

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