What do an algebra teacher, Toyota and a classical musician have in common?

Jonah Lehrer in Seed Magazine:

HowweknowBob Moses’ insight was that the math curricula these schools follow misunderstand the mind. The same abstraction that many educators celebrated—algebra is often touted as an introduction to symbolic logic—stifled learning for many students. By taking his students outside the classroom, Moses made math a part of everyday life: He realized that the brain wasn’t designed to deal with abstractions it doesn’t know how to use, or to solve variables while sitting at a desk. Our knowledge, Moses intuited, is a by-product of activity. What we end up knowing is what we can learn how to use. We learn by doing.

Modern neuroscience can explain the wisdom of Moses’ pedagogy. From the perspective of our brain, learning and doing are just two different verbs that refer to the same mental process. The reach of this discovery extends way beyond eighth-grade math class. In fact, the same technique that improved test scores in Boston and San Francisco and Mississippi is also partly responsible for the runaway success of Toyota and the supernatural-seeming skills of a violin soloist.

More here.