The Advantage Of Knowing How The Brain Works

Posted to Storytell on March 7, 2007:

Pre Katrina I was working on studies about the brain and had engaged in teaching all kids at one of my schools, where the principal was most cooperative, The advantage of knowing how the brain works. Once kids understood they could in essence "teach" their brains to learn, our jobs became easier. I found teaching kids to think also affected teachers and parents. It would have been interesting to find out what would have happened had Hurricane Katrina not happened.

Here is what I did.
Each week I would pose a question the kids had to think about. They could write an answer and drop it in the box placed near the principal's office. I was the only one reading the responses and choosing the responses I felt kids should hear. The winning kids read their responses on the intercom during morning announcements. Their photos and responses were posted around the school. What made this an incredible process was I did not really know the students, so I was not predisposed to pick kids because of who I knew. So students who were not successful before were receiving favorable attention from the process and getting a boost of self esteem,. The environment in the school lifted all around. People were smiling more. Teachers were affected in the ways they perceived kids, the kids confidence grew. I also gave the principal selected readings to include in her weekly letters to parents so parents began to learn some strategies for working with their children. I posted pictures of the brain around the school pointing out on the pictures what makes people smart. I indirectly taught how to use the brain to create more of what they wanted to create in their lives. It was an awesome process. I had put the process to work in March of the previous year. So in Aug 2005 we were poised to start fresh with a whole year before testing to see how well the students would achieve. Then Katrina happened.

I loved working on this project because I saw something favorable happen to the school's environment. I saw people actually happy to be in school. Typically in the spring teachers and students are ready for school to be over. The morale was not conducive to education. So the difference was very observable and palpable. You could feel it! I got a lot of feed back from teachers who were not threatened by my approach. It really did help the teachers to see their students differently.

So a typical question looked like: I like school because... or
I like when my teacher teaches... because...
Learning is fun when I ... This site is one I directed kids to.

In the spirit of sharing,
Angela Davis
Storyteller: Spinning Tales of Light, Joy, and Love