I am currently reading a fascinating book called ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge. It is so interesting because it questions everything we thought we knew about the way the brain functions. It is a great combination of case study and technical detail. It describes the way the brain is able to change in people with dyslexia, strokes, neurological issues, obsessions, neuroses, falling in love, OCD as well as mental practice, how to learn and much more.
Neuroscience is seen as a relatively new branch of science, but the book outlines many experiments and studies from early 20th century through to now which shows that scientists have long been fascinated by the way the brain is able to adjust and adapt.
In the past, the brain has been thought of as mostly hard-wired and unchanging. But evidence is increasingly confirming that it’s more malleable than ever imagined. In fact, the brain is less like a machine, and more like a complex organism. It continuously adapts to the unique combination of stimuli, thoughts and activities we encounter in life.
Doidge talks of the critical period of growth during our childhood that shapes our lives. Apparently in the first 2 weeks to 2 months of a child’s life, the brain is learning to see and store information related to sight and sounds. In one experiment, a week old kitten had one eye covered for the next 2 months. When the cover was taken off, the kitten was blind in the covered eye and never regained sight in that eye. The brain had not mapped an area of the brain for that eye’s vision during the critical period. At birth a baby can see the objects but the brain can’t register it. In those eight weeks, the part of the brain that deals with sight undergoes extreme development.
Many of the myths about the brain have been dispelled. There is no ‘left brain, right brain’. The brain maps the information in different parts of the brain and if one of the maps is no longer used, the brain takes over the space with a new map about a new thing. The brain does not degenerate as we age. It is a case of use it or lose it. If a habit or action is no longer used, then the brain takes over the space with new learning. As we all age (from childhood through to old age), it is important that our new learning is true new learning, not just keeping on using a skill. There is no value in keeping on doing hard sudokus despite thinking you are exercising your brain. You need to learn how to do something new, perhaps cryptic crosswords in order to actually exercise the brain. And when you’ve mastered that, you need to learn something new again.
It all sounds very ‘woo woo’ but it is a brilliant read and there are many aha moments. One caveat is that many of the experiments described were carried out on animals, but it is definitely one of those books where you keep interrupting your husband to tell him snippets or facts!
End of Year Picnic Thursday 13 December 5pm – 7pm
Come along with your picnic tea and some refreshments and join us for a lovely end of year event. It is the silly season, so this will be a chance to relax and unwind as your children have great fun playing with their friends. Put it in your diary!
We are about to have a landscaper come in who is going to refresh the garden at the end of the top court. We would also love a couple of people to come in for a day next week and do an awful lot of weeding for us (we had someone organised but that fell through). If you are able to give even an hour, that would be great. Perhaps you have teenagers at home who have nothing to do? Please contact Joanne at [email protected]
Reminder 1 – Triadic Meetings 28, 29 November – School Closes Early on Wednesday
Triadic parent, child teacher meetings coming up next week. Please make a time as every child has prepared a lovely overview of what they have learnt this year. School will finish at 2pm on Wednesday 28th so we can ensure everyone gets an allocated time.
Reminder 2 – 2019 Enrolments
If you have a child who will be starting school during 2019, please send in your pre enrolment forms as soon as possible.
Reminder 3 – Forming Classes. Deadline for Emails – 23 November
Last chance to email me if you wish us to take any information into consideration as we form classes. It may be a request to separate your child from another child. Please note that we do not accept any requests for specific teachers. I won’t make any changes once all families have been notified about the class their child will be in for 2019.