Most people believe that our brains are fully developed at birth or within only a few years after birth. They think that most of our brain development is just "stuffing" knowledge into it. That is very incorrect! Our brains don't stop developing until after we are about 25 years old.
What is required for your brain to develop correctly and fully? It needs the right kind of stimulation at the right age.
We know from brain wave studies, that brain activity is greatly reduced while watching typical TV programs, even exciting ones. While watching TV, stimulating activity of the type required for brain development does NOT take place!
We know that children of about age eight have twice as many brain cells, and twice as many connections between brain cell as do adults. After age 8, the brains of children begin to reduce the number of brain cells and the number of interconnections between brain cells. And this is really awesome! - - - - It is reorganizing itself. IT IS REWIRING ITSELF!
After age 8, proper brain stimulation is still required for proper brain growth. The stimulation actually causes the proper circuits to develop! Without the correct stimulation, the brain's development is incomplete.
We know that there is another spurt in brain growth peaking around 11 or 12 years of age.
Then in your teen years, your brain is rewiring the prefrontal cortex (Teacher: write this term on the board!). This is the area that does complicated brain functions required to do many adult tasks. Five main functions being developed are listed below. They are all adult brain functions.
The prefrontal cortex is removing circuits that are not used. A "Use it or loose it" force seems to be at work. (Repeat! A use it or loose it " force.) If you ignore a kind of brain use, those circuits will die out, and you will not be good at it.
On the other hand, if you do something a lot, your brain will rewire itself to become good at it.
The young person's actions and inaction are sculpting his own brain! And that is the same as determining his future abilities!
As a teen it is your prefrontal brain cortex that is changing to be able to do adult activities. If you don't practice these skills during your teens, your brain won't develop as well as it could. You won't become mentally fully adult! To most people the signs are not obvious, but I often see them in adults.
It is my belief that watching too much TV and too many Videotapes is not good. Many computer games are not good, except to improve eye-hand coordination. (Note: Eye-hand coordination is usually not a problem with children or adults.) Watching kids play video games, they usually use simple trial and error. That is not problem solving. It does not involve problem solving brain activity. Remember that while you are practicing eye-hand coordination in a computer game, you are NOT practicing skills you will need as an adult! All educators I have talked to believe the same as I do.
It is sad for me to say this, but it is likely that much of the schoolwork you do is not fully exercising your brain either! There is very often not enough real problem-solving in school. I don't consider the typical drilling to learn things like math as stimulating. It is not really problem solving or creative! You need a wide variety of mental activities. You need to do a variety of things - creative things - all on your own!
What can you do? Here are eight things.
- Limit your TV viewing.
- Limit your computer game playing.
- Make things.
- Write stories, poetry, other writing.
- Make music, or sing.
- Plan projects.
- Volunteer work,
- Solve puzzles, etc.
- In other words, DO THINGS!