George Lucas Educational Foundation

Understanding How the Brain Thinks

Former neurologist and teacher Judy Willis will be presenting a 5-part series on how young brains develop neurologically; she'll also offer some research-based classroom strategies to teach critical thinking and other 21st century skills.
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Judy Willis(@judywillis on Twitter) is an authority on brain research as it relates to learning. She is a regular blogger at Edutopia. You can also find her online at RADteach.

For 21st century success, now more than ever, students will need a skill set far beyond the current mandated standards that are evaluated on standardized tests. The qualifications for success in today's ever-changing world will demand the ability to think critically, communicate clearly, use continually changing technology, be culturally aware and adaptive, and possess the judgment and open-mindedness to make complex decisions based on accurate analysis of information. The most rewarding jobs of this century will be those that cannot be done by computers.

For students to be best prepared for the opportunities and challenges awaiting them, they need to develop their highest thinking skills -- the brain's executive functions. These higher-order neural networks are undergoing their most rapid development during the school years, and teachers are in the best position to promote the activation of these circuits. With the help of their teachers, students can develop the skillsets needed to solve problems that have not yet been recognized, analyze information as it becomes rapidly available in the globalized communication systems, and to skillfully and creatively take advantage of the evolving technological advances as they become available.

See the entire series below

Part One: Understanding How the Brain Thinks

Part Two: The Brain-Based Benefits of Writing for Math and Science Learning

Part Three: Improving Executive Function: Teaching Challenges and Opportunities

Part Four: Three Brain-based Teaching Strategies to Build Executive Function in Students

More coming soon

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M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

Video Games Hurt Brain Development

Studies Show Violent Videos Damage Brain

You know full well that kids might be playing more benevolent themed games at school, but when they get home, their dopamine need must be satiated, so kids get out the M rated games because mom and dad don't care what they play, as long as they are occupied and not bothering them.

And what about childhood obesity?

Games 'causing child obesity

When a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry producing video games has the power to corrupt even the education profession, it's no wonder that naysaying is discouraged or blatantly ignored.

I have no vested interest in promoting any industry or corporation . I have a vested interest in exposing fraud and deceit as it pertains to the lives of children. The advocacy promoting video games usage in the classroom is based purely on junk science. It's the education profession's equivalent of "green technology," another well-intentioned area designed to "do good" but corrupted by fraud and deceit, thereby nullifying any possible advantages.

I'll put it to you, Dr. Willis, that the entire 21st Century education movement is merely a pretense to market and sell new products from Silicon Valley.

Plus, only a silly person would motivate themselves into action because the date changes on the calendar. "21st Century" has been a cheesy marketing buzz term for decades and it's essentially meaningless if you really think ab out it.

It seems that the "thinking" that we expect from our kids does not apply to the adults supposedly leading them. If it did, then many more highly educated adults would be far more suspicious and cautionary.

Good parenting and adult modeling descends from a morality whereby the first instinct is to deny, not indulge. Materialism is a false value.

That's how me and my ancestors were raised and we were better for it. You're promoting a false value and someone has to stand up against the mob and declare it.

I've said it before and no one has been able to refute this point ... America rose to the status of a world superpower in the 20th century based on the very educational model you deride.

Where does America find itself now on the foundation you and others are promoting? Our nation, no matter how technologically adept its citizens may become, cannot maintain its sense of exceptionalism and breadth of political hegemony on the course presently envisioned.

Or is it true that in order to maintain this exceptionalism and hegemony, we must produce additional generations of conspicuous consumers who require constant dopamine fixes provided by whatever means possible?

Will the need for a dopamine rush supplant air, food, safety on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

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