Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Re:generation 16 - Keynote 1 - Nathan Mikaere Wallis

The regenerating brain: 

(The brainwave trust:

The 1990s saw the change in what we knew about the brain - due to brain scans. But the 2000s saw the change in what we knew about brain development. 

The most important learning is done in early childhood teaching. No evidence that genes relate to intelligent growth. 

The first 1000 days are crucial. The environment is crucial. How well you do at high school is decided by the 1000 days not which high school you go to! Culturally informed as opposed to research informed. 

In NZ we do not value early childhood teachers. Cultural capital of the hierarchy of teaching. Compare us to Scandanavian countries and where we spend money on children. Our biggest bucks go to 17-19 year olds - worldwide research tells us that this is not money well spent - NZ behind the ball here. 

We know the frontal cortex is not developed in teenage brain - it gets in the road of risk-taking. In adolescent years it 'regenerates'. No single age for this -as late as late 20s - new research pushes the finishing line out later and later! Individual cases - gender based! 
In fact the age is being pushed out with more and more research! 

Women - 18-24. 
Men - 22-32

100 different things that define end to adolescence:
Gender; birth order (first born or not first born - biggest differences - too complex too compare!) - and that's only two points of comparison! First born gets the most attention in the first 1000 days. More words spoken to the first born - therefore more likely to develop capacity of intelligent development. 

Most of our brain grows outside the womb - allows us to nurture the emotional brain. 

Body mass and height impact on how early the frontal cortex begins regenerate. It needs to shut down in order to regenerate and renovate. Some frontal cortex still works - teenagers still speak! So 10% of the time it does actually function fabulously well. You need to whakamama that part when you see it. Try to ignore the other 90% of the brain. You want to nurture the decision making, the empathy, the consequences etc. That's why restorative practices are so essential for supporting frontal cortex growth. 

Sometimes is better for others than parents to act as the 'handbrake' and the  voice of reason. 10% of the time even adults don't use the frontal cortex - otherwise we'd be ' Spock-like'! 

No use asking teenagers 'what were you thinong' better to ask 'what were you feeling'! Thinking involves consequences! And analysing risk factor. It might be dangerous but it's fun! 

As teachers we need to speak to the 'emotional brain' - speaking to the cortex is 'nagging'! Why do some teachers 'get' this! They talk to the emotional brain. 

Cognitive training - tell the kid what to do - not what not to do. Train with what they should do - social training - teach them the skill. Teach the behaviour that you do like (PB4L). 

Hence the growth of 'mindfulness'! You need to calm the brain stem I order to engage the cortex! This is different for each student! 

Validate the emotions coming from the emotional brain ( the limbic system) - this involves listening to the 90% not just the 10% we want to hear! Listen to what they want us to hear. Try not to 'invalidate' what they want us to hear. If we want kids to listen, we have to listen to them. Children do as you do, not as you say! Validate doesn't mean agreeing - we don't have to agree! According to Nathan, husbands do this all the time! 

Listening to listen! 

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