Evaluate Good Times (COME ON!)

It’s interesting to note, that kids with ADHD tend to be able to focus on what they want to focus on, like video games or a tv show…. It makes sense that the focus can be trained and generalized to other things… Brain plasticity!

Neither retention nor social promotion are adequate strategies for meeting the needs of students who are at risk of failure.

Retention and Social Promotion (Sept 2012, “Principal Leadership”), By Shane R. Jimerson and Tyler L. Renshaw

….According to the research, grade retention and promotion of failing students has been shown in most cases to result in negative outcomes. It is far better to provide intervention at school and at home than to “punish” the child for not progressing. This is of even greater concern when the child is a slow learner or has emotional/behavioral concerns.

Don’t agree? What intervention ideas have you tried, what has or has not worked for you? Please stay tuned for more on this! :)



Creativity in Science

They should have sent a poet,” whispers Ellie in the 1997 film Contact. She is a radio astronomer, and when she sets eyes on an alien galaxy for the first time, she has no words for its beauty. Despite being fiction, I think this interestingly highlights the need for pursuits in arts and sciences to be cross-disciplinary. Many students lose interest in science at an early age because it’s largely “taught to the test”, and so there is a decreased focus on creativity and imagination. Even practical experiments allow little room for creativity, as students are all expected to get the same results—and although this is important for teaching the scientific method, careers in science are not entirely like this: they require creativity and innovation. The infographic above shows the results of Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, a survey by research firm Edelman Berland (note: it is not specifically science-related). The research shows that that 85% of participants think creativity is crucial for problem solving in their career, yet 32% don’t feel comfortable thinking creatively. Yet, creativity is what keeps science moving forwards, because it fosters new connections and therefore gives rise to not only practical innovation, but also the creation of new knowledge. Scientists and engineers frequently encounter problems where they must use abstract, creative thinking, and they should be equipped to do this. From an early age, students should be encouraged to let their imaginations run wild, and also to use scientific reasoning to assess and test their ideas—and this approach of being open to multiple disciplines would be beneficial not only to science, but also foster innovation in other disciplines too. In Einstein’s words: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

I used to be an industrial design major before I switched to biophysics, and in my creativity class, my professor would go on and on about designers vs. engineers, and he had this binary where you could only be one or the other. It drove me crazy, because I knew I had skills in both types of thinking. I wasn’t a bad design student, but I thought I could get stuck designing pedometers for five years and that was massively unappealing, so I switched to something that drew on my love for math and science. I’m now headed in a different path that I never thought I’d go down, but through all of it creativity has been an important factor. I’m attracted to difficult problems, which is probably why I am fascinated by healthcare and medicine. I’d hate to be at work all day with people who never approach a problem creatively, it seems like a total waste of the capabilities of the human mind.

People so strongly associate creativity with art, especially with kids. If a kid is creative, he’s encouraged to draw or write or do whatever. When I was in high school and knew (or so I thought) that I would never need to take another math class because I was going into design, I didn’t take any math or science my senior year, even though I was in honors pre-calc and AP chemistry the year before, and it’s one of my bigger educational regrets. I didn’t take a math class between the ages of 16 and 22, and I almost died in my first calculus class, and that time gap has been one of my struggles with my studies ever since I’ve been studying biophysics. Creativity does not come from a void, it comes from having a good skill set and knowledge of many things, and then expanding and growing from that. Fluency is a big aspect - being able to come up with many iterations to solve a problem - as well as applying ideas from one field into another where they seem like they wouldn’t fit. I could never be creative in science if I didn’t not only know how to work within that field, but also be able to take seemingly unrelated ideas and find new solutions to problems. The best scientists have always been creative, and creativity is not synonymous with art.

I think one of the most creative and important discoveries of our time is the periodic table. I’m not talking about the elements, I’m talking about the actual arrangement of them within a table. Some Russian dude got it into his head that he needed to figure this out, had no idea anyone else was working on periodizing the elements, and made such a good table that he accurately predicted the attributes of undiscovered elements. I mean, how awesome is that? That’s some damned good creative problem solving, but he couldn’t have done it without a very firm knowledge of chemistry to begin with.

If you ask a really good scientist or engineer about creativity, they’ll surely attest to its importance. If you ask a really great designer about the need for practical knowledge, they’ll do the same. Jony Ive may be the lead industrial designer for Apple, but he’s probably better at math and engineering concepts than I am. The result is incredible products. I don’t care if you’re not a Mac person, the engineering and design that goes into them has been basically unparalleled in the consumer electronics industry.

I ramble on.

When will we teach creativity in schools? When will we stop “teaching to the test”? It’s becoming more and more obvious that we need to prepare our children for a future of innovation, critical thinking, and specializing in skills that may not be taught in school. We’re in the age of technology, why not use it to allow for self-directed learning?

"In Florida, one of the nation’s largest school districts has overhauled its discipline policies with a single purpose in mind — to reduce the number of children going into the juvenile justice system.

It’s a move away from so-called “zero tolerance” policies that require schools to refer even minor misdemeanors to the police. Critics call it a “school to prison pipeline.”

Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.

Under a new program adopted by the Broward County School District, non-violent misdemeanors — even those that involve alcohol, marijuana or drug paraphernalia — will now be handled by the schools instead of the police.”

Fascinating article on exposure to language in childrens’ early cognitive development. There is more research coming out all the time, but I like the way this is written. As many of us School Psychologist’s know, Verbal IQ correlates positively to overall intelligence (as measured by IQ tests… there are many forms of intelligence that IQ tests don’t test for).


So according to an article in the new issue of School Psychology Review (which you unfortunately need to be a member of the National Association of School Psychologists to read and hasn’t been issued digitally yet, for some odd reason) there is substantial evidence that not only are school-based academic and behavioral interventions for ADHD effective, but also that they’re MORE effective than the use of prescription medication (e.g. stimulants).

I feel like this should be bigger news.

Great news! Thanks for sharing! More people need to find out about this!

The Wise Brain Bulletin brings you skillful means – from psychology, neurology, and contemplative practice – for personal well-being, relationships, work, and spiritual development.

In this issue: Volume 7, 5 (10/13) – Finding inner strength and peace in recognizing the profound truth of impermanence, that things continually change – including our sense of “self.” A lovely poem on the beauty and power in “not knowing.” The primal emotion of fear, and how to rides its waves with wisdom and grace.

…Enjoy! (I promote this because I like it, I get no kickbacks.)

Social-emotional programs work!

"…there is some evidence that such programs are having positive results. In a meta-analysis of 213 research-based social-emotional-learning programs, the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning found that such programs boost student achievement, as measured by standardized tests and school grades, by an average of 11-percentile-points. According to that study, SEL programs also reduced conduct problems and emotional distress, and improved students’ attitudes "about themselves, others, and school."

Traditional behavior-management systems tend to focus on compliance, or getting students to abide by rules and consequences. SEL-based systems, on the other hand, are more concerned with the emotional causes and ramifications of student behavior.”

Is zero tolerance part of the problem? This article from the NYPost questions it. No one wants to advocate violence, but we shouldn’t be punishing children and teens for defending themselves. If an adult is being physically assaulted, the only option might be self defense. Children who are being bullied shouldn’t have to quietly take the beating when someone is assaulting them!

What are your thoughts?

A great way to get kids to read this Halloween. Give a book on “All Hallow’s Read”!

A great way to get kids to read this Halloween. Give a book on “All Hallow’s Read”!

It’s always important to get enough sleep - here’s another reason why! A consistent bedtime and sleep routine is especially important for children and the developing brain.

Image of the Day: Compact Brain
This model of a neural network, with individual nuclei labeled in blue and neuronal processes in red, was made by culturing rat hippocampal neurons on a silicon disc coated with a fluorescent amino acid (in green).

By The Scientist Staff | October 15, 2013 Link here: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37873/title/Image-of-the-Day—Compact-Brain/

Fascinating! :)

Image of the Day: Compact Brain
This model of a neural network, with individual nuclei labeled in blue and neuronal processes in red, was made by culturing rat hippocampal neurons on a silicon disc coated with a fluorescent amino acid (in green).

By The Scientist Staff | October 15, 2013 Link here: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37873/title/Image-of-the-Day—Compact-Brain/

Fascinating! :)

Another source, since I neglected to point out earlier that correlation does not equal causation!

This TIME article states: “In fairness, the data is correlational, so it’s not possible to say that anti-bullying programs necessarily led to more bullying. One could argue that, perhaps, schools with bigger bullying problems were more likely to implement anti-bullying programs. Nonetheless, this data suggests such programs may not be terribly effective.”

Anti-Bullying programs give bullies the latest cutting edge bullying ideas. Raise awareness! If you work in a school let your school counselor and principal know. If you’re a parent, please do the same. The current anti-bullying model is making it worse for vulnerable kids.

What’s the alternative? We need to teach compassion practices and mindfulness, along with encouraging empathy and gratitude in schools!

Children can be heartless to each other at times … Luckily compassion and gratitude are skills anyone can learn at any time.

The Anti-Bullying Coalition Display at NYCC