Monthly Archive for July, 2012

The education system and kids

The educational system today has less and less influence on students than ever before. The infiltration of technology (Google) and communication modalities (Smartphones and Facebook) are destroying the traditional boundaries of school (discipline) and the ‘outside world’. When I was in school I studied and ‘focused’.

I am not advocating that all technological progress is bad, just that students are incapable of dealing with it (as are their parents) and until an optimal ‘balance’ is re-established, students will continue to sub-optimise their outcomes.

This is one of the most troubled generations and will unfortunately suffer the consequences for the remainder of their lifetimes – I know it’s a sad prognosis, but just as the war and great depression generations before them, they will take this to their graves.

Of course it’s not all bad – it’s just not as good as recent previous generations.

The good thing is that once this ‘passes’ and it will – things will get better, a lot better. Just not soon enough for ‘this generation’.

A more ‘visual’ analogy is the increase in obesity – those effects are (permanent) lifelong for this generational cohort – even though a small few within the group can become healthy and fit – most won’t.

Governments have the group/cohort/generation to deal with – not single individuals. That’s why their problems are so complicated and in the case of obesity, expensive (healthcare).

The great news is that there is ALWAYS HOPE for that special child who has the nurturing environment to ‘buck the trend’ and learns the skills to achieve – in spite of the odds.

I help try to help counteract these forces as much as I can with my student accelerated learning and speed reading programs – teaching a holistic approach that is founded on traditional foundational “how to study” principles that work for students of all ages.

Kids and brain science

LAST month, two kindergarten classes at the Blue School were hard at work doing what many kindergartners do: drawing. One group pursued a variation on the self-portrait. “That’s me thinking about my brain,” one 5-year-old-girl said of her picture. Down the hall, children with oil pastels in hand were illustrating their emotions, mapping where they started and where they ended. For one girl, sadness ended at home with a yummy drink and her teddy bear.

Grappling so directly with thoughts and emotions may seem odd for such young brains, but it is part of the DNA of the Blue School, a downtown Manhattan private school that began six years ago as a play group. From the beginning, the founders wanted to incorporate scientific research about childhood development into the classroom. Having rapidly grown to more than 200 students in preschool through third grade, the school has become a kind of national laboratory for integrating cognitive neuroscience and cutting-edge educational theory into curriculum, professional development and school design.

“Schools were not applying this new neurological science out there to how we teach children,” said Lindsey Russo, whose unusual title, director of curriculum documentation and research, hints at how seriously the Blue School takes this mission. “Our aim is to take those research tools and adapt them to what we do in the school.”

So young children at the Blue School learn about what has been called “the amygdala hijack” — what happens to their brains when they flip out. Teachers try to get children into a “toward state,” in which they are open to new ideas. Periods of reflection are built into the day for students and teachers alike, because reflection helps executive functionthe ability to process information in an orderly way, focus on tasks and exhibit self-control. Last year, the curriculum guide was amended to include the term “meta-cognition”: the ability to think about thinking.

“Having language for these mental experiences gives children more chances to regulate their emotions,” said David Rock, who is a member of the Blue School’s board and a founder of NeuroLeadership Institute, a global research group dedicated to understanding the brain science of leadership.

That language is then filtered through a 6-year-old’s brain. Continue reading ‘Kids and brain science’

What is 2 times 2?

Several scientists were all posed the following question: “What is 2 X 2 ?”

The engineer whips out his slide rule (so it’s old) and shuffles it back and forth, and finally announces “3.99”.

The physicist consults his technical references, sets up the problem on his computer, and announces “it lies between 3.98 and 4.02”.

The mathematician cogitates for a while, then announces: “I don’t know what the answer is, but I can tell you, an answer exists!”

Philosopher smiles: “But what do you mean by 2 X 2 ?”

The logician replies: “Please define 2 X 2 more precisely.”

The sociologist: “I don’t know, but is was nice talking about it”.

Behavioral Ecologist: “A polygamous mating system”.

Medical Student: “4”

All others looking astonished : “How did you know?”

Medical Student : “I memorized it.”

SAT Pressure?