Saturday, March 25, 2017

Changing Brains is the Work of Parents and Teachers

"No matter what business you're in, first and foremost you're in the brain change business."  James Ryan, TREWTH Conference 2017

Catholic Education gathered recently for a conference on well being. The keynote speaker was James Ryan who is the official trainer and director of wellbeing for Pathways to Resilience Trust.

The brain is a fascinating organ and one we are continually learning more about. While I am far from being an expert or considering myself very knowledgeable about the brain, I am interested in how the brain functions and enables learning. What I do know from reading neuroscience research, is that the brain is an ever changing organ and that we are continually growing and strengthening pathways. This short clip provides great insight and a starting point - I would recommend watching it as a family and discussing it.

Knowing that the brain changes, supports our focus on 'growth mindset' and building capacity in our learners.  "The mind changes the physical structure of the brain. These physical structures are neural pathways and with the right conditions, neural roads, highways and superhighways can be built and strengthened. This is helpful in understanding the process of learning and how we develop social and emotional habits or dispositions. 
Our approach to literacy, SSP has been built on research around the brain and how we build and wire our brains for reading.  We also consider this in our approach to Social and Emotional learning. James Ryan spoke of the Broaden and Build Theory based on positive and negative emotions. In relation to healthy brain development, this theory proposes that

Positive Emotion:

- gives us a different life
- broadens our access to inner resources
- builds our social connectedness

On the contrary, Negative Emotion:

- narrows our access to inner resources
- reduces our social connectedness 

For further reading, access "The Emotional Life of Your Brain - how to change the way you think, feel and live" by Richard Davidson. I would also recommend accessing the Sentis video series on youtube, of which the one in this blog is a part.