Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health, by Dr. Caroline Leaf, presents strategies to improve thinking. Her findings are both theological and scientific. She shares ways to catch your thoughts and evaluate them, so we can follow the biblical mandate to take every thought captive. Her 21 day detox plan actually helps restructure the brain. There is much research to support the fact that the brain is malleable and that I.Q. is not fixed.
If you live with teenagers, I know you are aware that they tend to be emotional. This is a biological reality, however when feelings like, I don’t belong or I am in danger prevail emotions become out of control. The neurochemicals that are secreted, produce a sort of “brain freeze.” This is one reason that maintaining a safe and supportive culture is so essential to the learning experience.
Another problem today’s students face is distraction. Neuroscientist Katherine Healy writes about it in Endangered Minds and Failure to Connect. Extended studies were done to ascertain what media most helped children learn to read. One group was shown Sesame Street and the other Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood. The group that watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood had significantly higher reading score even though the program provides no reading instruction. It was also noted that this group did other things while the show was on even moving in and out of the room, while the Sesame Streetwatchers were extremely focused on the show. This focus did not produce the brain connections needed for the foundation to reading because the images were only fleeting. Good thinking requires deep thinking. To achieve this students need peace. According to a report by the Archives of General Psychiatry, simultaneous exposure to electronic media during the teenage years – such as playing a computer game while watching television-appears to be associated with increased depression and anxiety in young adulthood especially among men. (Brian A. Primack et al., “Association Between Media Use in Adolescence and Depression in Young Adulthood,” Archives of General Psychiatry 66, no. 2 (2009): 181-188)
I am not saying that you should pitch your television or ground the kids from the PS4. Yet, because balance is important at school use of media is limited and solitary. The computer lab is closed during lunch time so students can recharge with conversation and good old-fashioned board games. We are endeavoring to provide a “musement” park. A place people long to go to for the sole purpose of enjoying the thinking.
We are created with the desire to learn and grow. Let’s help our young people to have healthy, happy thought lives. I highly recommend Switch on Your Brain or the video presentations by the same name, just don’t try to play a video game at the same time.