By Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director. My colleague, Kevin Simpson, Executive Director of KDSL, an international educational consulting firm, interviewed me on April 15 on Blog Radio.
Kevin and I are both concerned about advancing innovations and preparing schools for the 21st century. In this interview, Kevin asked about CEI’s work with rigor, the Common Core research I did with NAESP, and my views about the needs of principals. CEI continues to collaborate with NAESP to advance approaches to increasing meaningful student engagement in classrooms through the use of the “rigor rubric” which I helped to develop. We also continue to be concerned about how principals are helping to lead their schools towards effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Kevin also asked some interesting questions about my “recent reading.” To answer, I referred to workshops I have attended in the past month– both of the workshops related to “reducing stress” and, in essence, the importance of a heart centered approach for schools. My recent reads are Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness, Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, and the Heart Math Solution by Doc Childre and Howard Martin. Each of these books describes a methodology to help people in trauma (and also raise academic achievement) through means that bypass traditional talk therapy (which is only partially effective) to using some of the latest scientific research on the brain’s neuroplasticity.
From my reading I have learned that:
- When traumatized, people often become “stuck” in a fright/flight mode.
- Significant measures are needed to overcome the impact of the trauma when the amygdala often takes control. Brain activity that is critical for survival in the short term can become detrimental in the long-run. However, we have research and means at our disposal to reduce stress and open the brain to more efficient learning. Yoga, meditation, “mindfulness,” and computerized neuroscience programs such as Dr. Wexler’s Activate, are helpful.
- The heart is a critical component. Insights and healing can be gained by focusing on one’s own heart, breathing deeply, and then seeing what solutions might “appear.”
For those of you seeking to help children heal, for those of you who want to bring healing to schools and communities, these books are golden.