Wired for Success

Your Brain on Childhood
December 10, 2014
Kindergarten Day at the Farm (Video)
December 18, 2014

Wired for Success

We think about brains a lot around here. A lot. What’s good for them. What’s bad for them. What do they need more of and what do they need less of. It is the trade of our teachers to meet learners where they are and challenge them from there.

Fortunately, neuroscience is experiencing something of a praxis effect these days. The research and findings are expanding at an astounding rate, providing educators with greater and greater insight into the cognitive needs and opportunities of learners.

IMG_9118Some basic tenets of the brain:

  • Learning is innate.
  • We all learn differently.
  • Multi-modal engagement is best.
  • Exercise is essential.
  • Stress limits learning.
  • Experience changes the brain.

With these in mind, we relentlessly seek to engage the brains of our learners in meaningful, relevant, and (developmentally appropriate) challenges. After all, if we want students to become critically thinking problem solvers tomorrow, they need to solve problems by thinking critically today.

This is why you find so much active, project-based learning at all levels of our school. Our students do science, farm chores, collaborative problem solving, dynamic math assignments, debates and discourse, creating, building, imagining, and applying. Our campus is vigorous of mind, body, energy, and academics.

But what of the arts? Why so much of that? Turns out neuro and cognitive scientists have been studying the impact of the arts on our brains as well.

The good folks at UF (shameless alma mater plug) published an infographic titled, “Psychology of Music” (go ahead and google it, I’ll wait here) that provides some insights. It reads, “Music involves more parts of the brain than any other function that people perform.” Prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, temporal lobe, left frontal corext, left parietal cortex, right cerebellum, Wernicke’s area, visual cortex, and the motor cortex as a start.

This week’s winter music concert, “Resonations,” features the beautiful work by our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders under the guidance of Patty C. In addition to the “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” I hope you’ll join me in marveling at the complexity of the neurofunction and cognitive development on display by these young performers. It is but one more example of the whole child, whole brain “work” your children engage in everyday.



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