Extraordinary Woman! Tracey Tokuhama Espinosa

27Mar10

During the summer (2009) while attending Pat Wolfe’s Training of Trainers week long seminar (for my second time), i had the pleasure to meet Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa.  SHE IS MY NEW HEROINE!  What a smart, sharp and witty woman, with such talent, aptitude and passion for learning.  Tracey came in for a quick chat, but to our surprise, she blessed  our cohort with staying for hours!  She shared with us a synthesized glimpse into her work with 26 leading scientists (including Howard Gardner, David Sousa, Eric Jensen and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang) in the three fields of Neuroscience, Psychology and Pedagogy (Education).  Through her meticulous work interviewing the experts, she was able to identify 5 concepts of well-established belief that intersect the three fields and have become new standards for a new exciting field of study:  Mind, Brain, and Education Science–now if they offered that field of study to me when i was at University!

Tracey set out to “establish a working understanding of the dynamic relationships between how we learn, how we educate, how the brain constructs new learning, and how the brain organizes and processes information” (Tokuhama-Espinosa).

She is in my mind, the world’s foremost intellect on understanding how we learn–building neural connection to neural connection.

When Tracey spoke to our Brainy-Bunch, she expressed how neuroscience and psychology both have strong roots and evidence of their findings based in research, yet Education does not have as much.  In short, educators are terrible researchers.  We know why and when to use certain teaching strategies to certain learners, yet we cannot prove WHY thy work.  Teacher are experts on teaching, but our methods and our tricks, and our “i just know it works” reasonings do not hold much weight or “dignity” with how other fields view our work.  Now, as an educator, i had to agree with Tracey…teachers ARE experts on strategies and tools for learning, but we do NOT prove WHY we know it works, and how it works, and when it works.

Now, did i mention that Tracey also is fluent in Spanish and English, and she and her husband are raising their three children to speak FOUR languages?  Tracey is also an expert (and i do mean EXPERT) on multilingual learners. Tracey–you rock!  And i am not just saying that because you are from Berkeley and i am from the other side of the bridge in San Rafael!  You are truly a global inspiration!

photo credit, photo credit

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