Turning Point School Blog
If you have a child in preschool, you are likely currently cataloguing many first-hand experiences with your budding scientist. I remember both of my sons dropping food methodically from their high chairs. Wow, it fell to the ground! Will it fall to the ground again? What about this time? And this time? And what will my parent’s reaction be? Will it be different this time? What about this time?
Young children are keen observers of gravity and adult psychology. It helped me to understand that my sons were not being obstinate or recalcitrant, but rather attempting to understand the laws of the natural world and human behavior. Young children are, as UC Berkeley professor Allison Gopnik termed them, “scientists in the crib.” This exploration mindset, which lays the foundation for life-long learning, informs our approach in Primary to allow children to be curious and to problem solve.
This insight of young children as keen testers is among the many nuggets from our upcoming community reading book for 2018-19: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. We chose this book because it’s one of the best resources for understanding how knowledge of neurology can help us teach children, and also improve our own adult lives. With much information swirling around, this research-based book offers clear recommendations for nurturing healthy and effective brains. Chapters focus on exercise, sleep, stress, wiring, attention, memory, sensory integration, vision, music, gender, and exploration.
The topics you will read about in Brain Rules set the stage for us to explore other interesting ways our minds work, both consciously and subconsciously. For example, I have always been fascinated by how our “fast” brain and “slow” brain are involved in decision-making processes. As we continue to explore themes of inclusion and equity in our school community, it is valuable to consider how implicit bias, a form of “fast” decision making, compels us to unconsciously attribute particular qualities to members of various social groups. These biases, favorable and unfavorable, are activated involuntarily and are largely beyond an individual’s control – but, by learning more about how our brains work in this way, we can become aware of and in fact minimize the power these “fast” decisions have on our actions and thinking.
We encourage you to read this stimulating and accessible book in preparation for conversations next year about the many new things we are learning about brain science, and how we are implementing this knowledge into our classrooms to ensure that every student is well-served at Turning Point. Whether your child is three or 13, you will better understand his or her mind—and be armed with information to enhance your commitment to your own well-being. I’m excited for us to come together in the fall for stimulating discussions about how to leverage the full power of our brains to help us understand, evolve, and thrive together as a community.
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School
Other excellent brain resources:
Daniel Kahneman. Thinking Fast and Slow. NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011.
Kahneman debunks our theories of ourselves as rational decision makers and reveals instead how vulnerable we are to biases.
Claude Steele. Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do. NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.
Steele shares groundbreaking research on stereotype threat that undermines our abilities when we feel we are at risk of confirming stereotypes about our social group.