Altered Bodies

Rob Mitchum has a nice article in, “This is your brain on Facebook”,  that puts recent concerns (doomsaying) about the relationship between the Internet and our brains into a more informed context.  He points to the latest research from UCLA and University of Rochester that focuses on the links between digital media and brain plasticity and the implications for therapeutic and educational applications. He suggests that research reveals “more benefits than ill consequences” but acknolwedges that this is an open research question.

As Gary Small of UCLA states:

“We tend to oversimplify when we argue whether technology is making us smart or making us stupid,” Small says. “The brain is complex and technology is complex; it’s the content, timing, and balance of what we’re doing that’s important. We can argue whatever we want with so little data. It’s not settled; we need to study it. These are the technologies that are part of our lives, so we need to be scientific about it and not conclude from the outset whether it’s all good or all bad. We need to understand it and use it in a way to enhance our lives.”

The complex challenge of understanding the relationship between the environment — technological, urban, ecological — and our human performance is an important driver of change when thinking about communities, schools, and learning envronments.  As our knowledge in this area grows, hopefully we can begin to design and implement interventions to mediate damaging effects and design more brain and body healthy environments for teachers, learners, and families.

How we alter our bodies and brains and the implications for how we think about performance is one of the drivers of change in KnowledgeWorks’ 2020Forecast.

“Advances in neuroscience are revealing new understanding of the brain, its plasticity, and its responsiveness to the environment. Emerging notions of neuro-diversity and physical “disability” will challenge standards of what is “normal” and will spark innovations that help mainstream populations. At the same time, greater threats to human and environmental health from climate change, pollution, war, extreme urbanization, and other natural and human-made disasters will in the next decade create new stresses on minds and bodies. These stresses will converge in schools, some of which will seek to instill a sense of stewardship for self and environment in their students. With their mission to educate all students, these schools will become key sites for interventions to overcome the various challenges of disability and bio-distress and their impacts on learning.”

See Altered Bodies for more.

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