What would happen if you got a 15-20% free space to work on your own projects during your working hours? Google’s 20% time has resulted in for instance Gmail among other things, while the outcome of 3M’s 15% time is e.g. the Post-it. However, in order to connect these events and many others free will must exist. Neuroscientists at Technische Universität Berlin is now conquering the American researcher Benjamin Libet and his many followers research from the 1980s by concluding that people have a free and conscious will. “The aim of our research was to find out whether the presence of early brain waves means that further decision-making is automatic and not under conscious control, or whether the person can still cancel the decision, i.e. use a ‘veto’,” explains Professor Haynes.
Computational Neuroscience research
The team of researchers is working for Charité’s Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience and as part of the research study participants entered into a ‘duel’ with a specially-trained computer. The purpose was to manipulate the game in favour of the computer as soon as brain wave measurements indicated that the player was about to move, the computer knew this. Professor Haynes says the following of the outcome: “A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious and early brain waves. They are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement.”
Using free will in practice
With this in mind a free space to work with whatever you want can be connected to free conscious will. Otherwise free space time would not be required. But how could free-will-time work in formal education? What would be the outcome? An article in the Guardian this week delivers fresh ideas from a UK school.
Making free conscious decisions
Brainstorming for ideas that the pupil is passionate about is forming the introduction of the free space time and is where the first conscious decision is made by the pupil. Then in the next step the pupils make decisions and work towards the goal to finish the project they have chosen to work with, while reporting weekly to the teacher on the progress. This is a very interesting case of student-driven learning at its best behaviour and also works to transform the driving-forces for engagement in learning. Read the full story here.