Wednesday, February 4, 2004
"Black boxes with their secrets locked inside" is how noted educator Patricia Wolfe has described society's understanding of children's brains and their function.
Over the past decade, however, a wealth of brain-specific research is starting to provide scientists, teachers and parents the keys to understanding how the brain develops and works from birth through adolescence.
That research and its applicability to educational practice is at the heart of Wolfe's work and will be a focus of her visit to Steamboat Springs this week.
Wolfe, the author of "Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice," will speak about functions of the brain, particularly as it pertains to children, at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Steamboat Springs High School. She will work with teachers and support staff during Friday's instructional improvement day for district employees.
"I've heard (Wolfe) talk about the adolescent brain before, and I thought it would be great for parents to hear about their childrens' brains," said high school counselor Joan Allsberry, who was influential in bringing Wolfe to Steamboat for the forums.
Recent brain research is shifting what scientists and others know about human development, Allsberry said.
"It's turning a lot of what we know about child development on its head," she said. "It's giving us a little peek into why kids sometimes make irrational decisions."
Research is also addressing decision-making, the effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain, the importance of sleep and the role emotions play in adolescent development, among other things, Allsberry said.
Wolfe's presentation to parents tonight will provide insight into what goes on inside the heads of their children, Allsberry said. Wolfe's entertaining presentations keep audiences captivated, she added.
"I would hate for people to miss it if they're at all interested," Allsberry said.
Wolfe's presentation to teachers and staff on Friday will vary from what she discusses with parents.
"(Wolfe's) expertise and her angle on brain research has always been how to take the research and apply it to how we can better teach kids," Allsberry said.
Wolfe will provide educators with specific strategies to use in the classroom.
"It's really user-friendly," Allsberry said of the presentation. "You walk out of there with tools to use right away."
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