Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)
Brain dead? In pursuit of mindful students
Armed merely with a whiteboard marker, as often as not, teachers have a battle on their hands if they are to thwart the effects on their students of high-risk behaviours, thrill-seeking, binge drinking, drug taking, overeating and video gaming. The brain has a remarkable capacity to grow or shrink depending on whether it is used. 'Plasticity' suggests that the owner of a brain has an ability to enrich or impoverish the brain. If a teenager wishes to engage in experiences which 'blow his mind', he will succeed in more ways than one. All risk behaviours will damage the brain and render it less effective in being able to guide its owner towards mature behaviour. If a brain has too many 'dopamine baths', which happens when the body engages in thrill-seeking behaviours, there is a risk of developing an infantile brain. Quite literally, some students – but boys in particular – are becoming 'mindless'. They adopt lifestyles that damage their neural pathways so that there are fewer connections in the brain and a reduced efficiency in its operation. It is vital that teachers do not leave their students to lifestyles that are characterised by brain-deadening experiences. Students must be encouraged to read books as well as watch screens, eat well, exercise properly and be given experiences that are not trivial. To fail in this is to condemn students, particularly boys, to perpetual childhood. [Author abstract, ed]
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