A Second Look at Some Great 2020 Think Tank Articles

July 2022

Once a year, we revisit some of our favorite articles in our archives. This month, we’re revisiting pieces that our readers chose as the best from 2020. With topics ranging from introversion, predictive processing, positive psychology, embodiment, and the social brain, we’ll have a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy!

Our cover: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

photo by M W, on Pixabay; others from Unsplash       

Watch before you read...

Let’s start by looking at our favorite 2020 intro videos: state-of-the-art, surprising, and inspiring.

We are rerunning our readers’ favorite articles from the 2020 Think Tanks. Oh, they are so good! Look through the Table of Contents to see what you missed, or what was so good that it is worth reading again. Enjoy. And we’ll get back to our regular issues next month.

Never a Better Time to Be an Educator

 Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa

Our Thoughts on 2020

2020, the Year of Change Curtis Kelly

This was the year we both hunkered down and reached out. The pandemic forced us to teach from home, but the tools we used to do so, especially Zoom, “freed us from” (as I wrote in 2020), “the tyranny of proximity.” Suddenly we could teach people anywhere in the world and, likewise, be taught by anyone anywhere, as so many of our conferences went online.

Think Tank Articles

Embracing the Introverted Brain Heather McCulloch

Introverts are quiet. All they need is to be encouraged to come out of their shells. All you need to do is to tell them to “Speak up.” Right? No. It’s not that simple. Recent research shows there are unique differences between the brains of introverts and extroverts.

Predictive Processing: The Grand Unifying Theory of the Brain Curtis Kelly

The brain does so many amazing things. So, deciding which is the most amazing is not easy. Is it memory, in which even its faults are part of the design (see my piece in Think Tank on Forgetting), or emotion, the mechanism that steers us through life (see Think Tank on Emotion), or maybe even language, the tool that allowed our species to exploit the social environment (see Pagel’s TED Talk)? Any of these choices would be good, but I am going to select something else: the miraculous way the brain changes raw sensory signals into Picassos, parties, and poems

Positive Psychology and the Future of ELT Sarah Mercer

As I write, the world is still in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis. Particularly in education, students and teachers have had to adjust to new working conditions, both displaying an incredible commitment to ensuring the best education possible in the circumstances. As with all critical periods and experiences, the crisis has caused many individuals to take stock and reflect on what matters most, what is important to prioritise, and what lessons they want to learn when moving into the “new normal” post-pandemic.

The Movements of Language: Learning from Embodied Semantics Brian J. Birdsell

The brain and computer are two everyday words for concepts that widely capture the imagination of so many people by their complexity and intelligent design and have been bed partners in an enduring metaphor since the 1940s. These two concepts are so intricately interconnected in language and thought that it is hard to imagine one without imagining the other. For instance, the electrical currents of a computer are similar to the action potentials of neurons firing in the brain.

Tapping into the Social Brain to Tackle Classroom Incivility: Emotional and Social Intelligence Harumi Kimura

Language teachers regularly put their students into pairs and groups, hoping that they will be active in their interaction. They hope that their students will have ample time for attentive listening, make use of speaking opportunities, negotiate for meaning, and exchange ideas in another language. They believe that, through small group activities, their students can use the language more, develop accuracy, fluency, and confidence, and learn to become proficient users of the language. These benefits of pair-work and groupwork (henceforth “small group work”) are appealing to teachers and in most foreign language learning situations; they are practically the only way to have students practice the L2.

Think Tank Plus

Hiro Passed! Tim Murphey

Hiro[1] was obviously not your typical student in my class of 70. I asked that all students have new partners every class to make it more exciting and so they could re-use many of their conversation strategies that they were learning in the “Ways of Learning” class. Hiro sat in the front usually and when we sang songs, he sang very loudly and vivaciously. But his ADHD profile made students avoid him at first, and I must admit, me too as a teacher.

[1] not his real name

Call for Contributions: Ideas and Articles Think Tank Staff

Become a Think Tank star! Here are some of the future issue topics we are thinking about. Would you, or anyone you know, like to write about any of these? Or is there another topic you’d like to recommend? Do you have any suggestions for lead-in, or just plain interesting, videos? How about writing a book review? Or sending us a story about your experiences? Contact us.

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The MindBrained Think Tanks+

is produced by the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) Mind, Brain, and Education Special Interest Group (BRAIN SIG). Kyoto, Japan. (ISSN 2434-1002)

Editorial Staff

Stephen M. Ryan                Julia Daley                   Marc Helgesen

              Curtis H. Kelly                Skye Playsted              Heather Kretschmer        

    Jason Walters                               Mohammad Khari


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