Rebecca Kaplan

STEM Coordinator, Fraser Woods Montessori School

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Educating students about how their neurobiology impacts the way they feel can improve lives.

At a time in their lives where changes in their bodies often seem completely beyond their own control, teaching them techniques to manage their feelings (and therefore their destiny!) will change their lives.From experience, kids are very interested in how their own bodies and minds work, although life can seem very puzzling or challenging to them. Teaching them to recognize patterns in their feelings or behaviors that might just NOT be related to their character, but instead their physiology, is empowering in a way that is captivating to students.

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    Oct 9 2013: Rebecca: Yours is a very good idea. Students should learn to manage their feelings and their power, their energy, in a profitable way. It'll be useful too if they could learn to improving their performance by mean of a better knowledge of the human brain's features.
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      Oct 10 2013: Sean, I played a game last year (online) called SuperBetter, by Jane McGonigal (also TEDster), and it was a concrete way of seeing my "points" (for all kinds of resilience) build by using my own resources. Your comment made me think of it. Maybe it might be a good tool to use with the kids?
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        Oct 11 2013: Hi, Rebecca:
        In my opinion, yes, it could be a very good tool to use with the kids. I'm convinced about the fact that everything one can build into oneself using -and giving the best use possible- our own resources, is one of the vey best learnings we can give or receive.
        I specially wish to congratulate you for your job. I don't know very much about teaching, but I sincerely and seriously think that teaching is one of the noblest and beautiful professions in the world. And I'm also convinced that if we do our best, if we try so hard as possible to improve the way we educate kids, our community, our country our world, will be a little more better ones.
        Congratulations, then, and let me tell you never stop get fully involved in the beautiful work you perform.
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    Oct 4 2013: Wow ! thats a brilliant idea :) I do favor Rebecca.

    This is the good way to teach them the reality of our real world. I mean to say, at least we can teach them in this way, and let them free to experience, to feel and to think about the things and their own sensors.

    I found this in support -

    1. Five Ways Neuroscience Will Change Education
    http://www.ourkids.net/blog/brain-power-ways-neuroscience-will-change-education-21334/

    2. Neuroscience For Kids
    http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/outside.html
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      Oct 4 2013: I work at a Montessori school and my children also are in a Montessori school, which has curricula based research on the developmental chronology of the human brain. I really love these resources and I think it's important to point out that MOST (if not all) educators incorporate teaching practices that take into account the development of the child or student.

      I think what I'm trying to say is that teaching kids how their OWN brain affects the way they interact with the world can change them for the better, based on the reaction I've received from students to Amy Cuddy's talk about body language. For example, teaching them about the science behind why it's important to raise your testosterone levels and reduce cortisol levels before a test, AND teaching them how to do it.
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    Oct 28 2013: Bang on, any empowerment involving better understanding our bodies and ourselves we can instill in a youngster can reap tremendous rewards in later life for both the individual and thereby their community. Like anything else the more we practice something the better we can become at it. I am of the opinion that much of life is practice and we should have a lot more compassion for those we practice upon :)

    . Relevant information and supportive systems can easily enhance that learning experience and personal empowerment is a Natural product of one's level of understanding. .
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    Oct 28 2013: I worked with children with learning challenges for 8 years. I administered a program for them that ended up giving them a brain wired to read. Iam passionate about how neurobiology can impact this generation.
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    Oct 12 2013: Rebecca : channeling your concern for the education of children through these channels so interesting , is very commendable . I always defend one of the cornerstones of the smooth running of a community (and perhaps the main one) is to provide a high quality education to children and youth.

    I want here, in this way, show tto all my respect and admiration for all educators who make their noble task almost a quasi-religious vocation . And my dislike for those who do not deal properly with young people who have to educate.

    My childhood was spent in a very deep poverty, suffering the consequences of a hard after-war time, and with the encouragement of my parents and my own efforts, I could became a lawyer . It was a long time ago. I have met good teachers, and never forget them. I've also had others who did not teach me but I was beaten and suffered punishment when I wasn't able to learn or to remember something ... Therefore, I know what I mean when I say Rebecca , strive as much as possible, think about how important is your job your goals, your daily task, and go always forward!
    I think, I'm sure that I speak for many people when I thank you and all good educators your passionate efforts. Thanks.
    Greetings .
  • Oct 6 2013: This is an excellent idea and would like to point out it should not be limited for just kids, many adults need this kind of education too!
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      Oct 10 2013: I completely agree. Much of the information I learned about how to consciously and deliberately affect my impact on the world I learned in the last 6 years or so, and I'm definitely a grownup. I agree with what Frank Bierbrauer said about "awareness of self". I am much more self-aware now than 6 years ago.

      With my middle school students, though, many of them have the capability of being more self aware than they are, but are still operating very unconsciously in a reactive/reflexive way. Using the Amy Cuddy talk was a great way to start a conversation about being aware of the difference between your feelings and what is actually happening.

      I talk to my own young children that way, too. When my youngest is working himself up into a tantrum, sometimes (not always) it can work to draw his attention to the fact that "just because you are crying doesn't mean something bad actually happened to you--you might just be sad or hungry, or tired."
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    Oct 4 2013: I am not saying a neurobiology course is squeezed into the curriculum! I remember, though, that one of the first units of the year for my son in 5th grade was on the adolescent brain. When I taught middle school, I remember it was in the 7th grade health curriculum. At my son's (different) middle school, there was a course that met a couple times each week called personal development that included this subject.

    I know many schools have health in the physical education department rather than in science. I would check at your school with the health teachers or whoever covers health education topics. I would also check with whichever staff do the anti-bullying curriculum.

    Here is one curriculum: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/brain/curriculum-planning/33732.html?detoured=1

    And here is the Foss kit on the brain for grades 6-8 from Lawrence Hall of Science at Berkeley: http://www.fossweb.com/web/foss-fossweb/module-overview?folioID=D564289

    And here from AAAS on what kids should learn about the brain and how it connects to national science standards in the US: http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=28900
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      Oct 4 2013: Fritzie, thanks for those resources. I do teach human physiology, and it is in the science standards that's true. I think I was considering more about how your physiology and brain function can affect the way you feel, think and operate in the world and with your family and friends.
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        Oct 4 2013: Yes, that is the way my kids were exposed to this content in grade school and middle school. It wasn't as a science topic but as a topic in understanding themselves.
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    Oct 29 2013: Bang ON, William!! I love your idea of practice. It is true, life is a practice. Conscious practice and consideration of the results and how to adjust your practice are totally key.

    Compassion, practice--understanding. Nailed it.
  • Oct 10 2013: Hey Rebecca, I am a high school student with an interest in neurobiology, and I have learned a lot about that. It can for sure change who one is. The neurotransmitters in our brains can drastically, and quickly change one's mood.
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    Oct 10 2013: YES....YES.....YES....REBECCA!!!

    The more we know about how the interconnected body/mind systems function, the better able we might be to navigate the life adventure. Starting the process to "know thyself" sooner, rather than later, is a HUGE advantage for exploring the life experience!

    I ADORE Adora and her talk.....if you show it to your kids, I bet they enjoy it? Amy's talk is also very good. I am not familiar with Sarah-Jayne's talk.....need to check it out!

    You go girl, and a BIG welcome to TED conversations:>)
  • Oct 10 2013: I think that what affects people far more are psychological problems of various kinds rather than anything created through neurobiology. If it is neurobiology which gives rise to the psychological problem then this is part of the psychology aspect.Note that I am NOT talking about psychological illnesses of the severe type but simply those aspects of the human character such as prejudices, habits etc which reside in everyone. These sorts of things are almost unconscious nowhere near the sort of obvious creation of symptoms you might notice with severe psychological illnesses. As such they are subtle and hard to notice by most people. Even if they are noticed and believed to be something which needs to be addressed by the person involved they are often ignored by them or put down as part of who the are. The only way to address such problems is in awareness of self, that is in being aware of these habits and prejudices ruling your life in terms of almost reflex reactions. Only then can they be addressed, its a kind of constant alertness that is required to solve such problems. This can change a life in a deep way.
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      Oct 10 2013: You are right! It really is all about being self-aware. Bringing the knowledge to students that it is POSSIBLE to be more self aware, and that increased self-awareness can result in a feeling of greater well-being, especially when you know you can influence the way you feel by doing simple things.

      Did you watch the talk by Amy Cuddy? i can't recommend it enough! A friend used her techniques just before a big meeting the other day, and she said it really worked!
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      Oct 10 2013: Also, how do you suggest we teach kids to become more self aware? I started with the Amy Cuddy talk and we always talk about learning styles, but what else could we do?
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    Oct 6 2013: Great idea, reminded me of these guys work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Givens
  • Oct 5 2013: I like the idea, but I like the idea of learning about intelligence and learning about the learning process at the same time. Perhaps all three aspects would make a neat section in your physiology course.

    The Wiki has a neat snapshot. I think I like Gardner's stuff the most.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence
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      Oct 10 2013: Robert,
      I talk to my students all the time about their "learning style" as a way of increasing their awareness of their own study and learning habits, and how to change or modify them to make life better.

      I'm an auditory/kinesthetic learner, which means I tend to lean on those strengths when I teach as well. So, I have to make sure I include lots of visuals for my visual learners.

      Which type are you? This is a little Quiz: http://sunburst.usd.edu/~bwjames/tut/learning-style/stylest.html
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    Oct 4 2013: I work in Newtown, CT, and I have been teaching science for 15 years. The first neurobiology course I ever took was as a senior in high school (I was 17), and it definitely changed the way I thought...about thinking, sleeping...almost everything. I teach students who are 10-14 now, and I know it's not part of the "common core"--which is a national initiative at standardizing education. Where are you from? I am intrigued by hearing you say it is common where you are.
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    Oct 4 2013: Is such instruction common in schools where you live? I know it is here.