Peter Adriaenssens (expert in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at KULeuven) speaks at the conference of Media and Learning in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Some notes from his speech.
Brain and educational practice
All starts at the neuron level. These neurons and their branches will form a neural network. From birth to 2 years, this neural network is growing at a quick speed.
this process is genetically determined, but not all will be needed, this is were the genetic will meet nurture. Parts of these will be pruned as theings are 'not needed'. So it is imperative to take this neural plasticity into account when stimulating children from early on.
These synapsis will keep growing all the way to half of the twenties. This is the work that needs to be done for the biggest part in the first 18 years. Exposing the young brain to a wide variety of stimulus will decide the quality of emotion and behaviour. It is a continuous process of adaptation of the brain. this brain needs meaningful interactions to grow, so exposure to media, creativity, ... will actively stimulate growth (language, concentration, ...). This will result eventually in adolescent behaviour.
Children that are not exposed to stimulae, will result in a very poor set of neural networks.
As such society and all of us in it, are responsible for brain stimulus.
Exposure to stimulae are at the center of the discussion about violent exposure by media etc. But why do not we set up research centers about 'good media' instead of looking at the negative impact (personal note: good point!).
cosists of many different parts that work together to make meaning of the world
nees appropriate nutrituion to reach it maximal potential
needs appropriate sleep in order to work effectively
needs ongoing developmentally appropiate stimulation
learns most effectively when information is provided in the child's prefrered larning or thinking style
Important to explore the language at which children feel at their best, might be dance, physical, creativity.... this push for positive stimulae is important for their brain as children have different preferences (or their brains have).
Provide children with camera's, internet, media tools...
Critical though of myself: lack of infrastructure will result in a sustained digital divide with low resource areas and/or groups.
Are we able to prove that media stimulus will result in an improved child development?
We do not have the data to found this, but we can set out some guidelines.
Growing importance of social skills. And making them open to democratical, critical analysis to be ready for this world. Lifelong learning is a need, but does education taking care of this need? Are schools redesigned to allow them to provide lifelong learning?