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This Is Your Brain On Fun

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

One way to reach kids, to teach kids, is to engage their imagination, their eyes, ears and senses. Regardless of the subject matter, if children are connected, they are open to receiving incoming info.
Actually, this is true of anyone, young or old, two legs or four.

Dr. Marion Diamond, the first woman on the science faculty at Berkley elaborates in her Response of the Brain to Enrichment.

“In 1874 Charles Darwin mentioned that the brains of domestic rabbits were considerably reduced in bulk in comparison with those from the wild because, as he concluded, these animals did not exert their intellect, instincts, and senses as much as did animals in the wild. However, it was not until the 1960s, that the first controlled studies in animals demonstrated that enriching the environmental condition in which they were confined could alter both the chemistry and anatomy of the cerebral cortex and, in turn, improve the animals’ memory and learning ability.”

So if brain morphology actually changes as a result of experience, wouldn’t we want to expand and vary teaching experiences?

As educator/author, Dee Dickinson writes:

“The human brain is the most complex system on earth, yet it is too often used in schools primarily as a simple device for storage and retrieval of information.” So true, as information is poured out of one human’s mouth, the teacher, sometimes with the sole visual aid of written words, numbers, diagrams on a board. Students are then expected to absorb and repeat data, facts upon command (testing).
Dickenson says, “New neural connections that make it possible for us to learn and remember and problem-solve and create can continue to form throughout life, particularly when human beings are in environments that are positive, nurturing, stimulating and that encourage action and interaction. Such environments are opposite from dull, boring, rigid environments in which students are the passive recipients of information. Well designed arts programs provide just the kinds of environments that Diamond describes.”
Aha, the arts again. Looks like an artistic environment really does encourage children to engage their imaginations, open up to information. Wouldn’t you prefer a brain on fun?

Image courtesy of ParaScubaSailor via Flickr

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