Connection to Brain Research

Brain research reinforces that by incorporating skills such as self-control, children’s brains function on a higher level. When children are feeling negative and stressed, executive functions, which provide cognitive control, are inhibited. When information stays in the amygdala; it doesn’t flow into the prefrontal cortex for executive processing. Instead, it’s processed right on the spot as fight, flight, or freeze. In this way, fear and anxiety effectively shut down higher order thinking. It’s this higher order thinking that helps children cope while providing a foundation for success as they learn and grow. The book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck, PhD, presents research on the importance of having a “growth mindset,” in essence a brain that is open, forward thinking and ready to take on new challenges. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe their talents and abilities cannot be improved through any means. They feel that they are born with a certain amount of talent and typically do not wish to challenge their abilities due to the possibility of failure. Challenges are frequently viewed negatively, instead of as an opportunity for personal growth. People that practice a “growth mindset” believe abilities, such as athleticism and mathematical capacity, can be improved through hard work and persistence. When presented with an obstacle, those practicing a growth mindset tend to rise to the challenge. Often, people of the growth mindset do not fear failure; instead, they view it as a chance to improve themselves.

Teacher Training and Modeling