HOW CAN YOU INCREASE THE INTELLIGENCE OF YOUR STUDENTS?
In his book titled ‘Enriching the brain’, Eric Jensen defines enrichment as ‘a positive biological response to a contrasting environment, in which measurable, synergistic and global changes have occurred’. (Page xii). He also claims that enriched environments can create important changes in the brain, including enhanced functioning and development in areas relating to cognitive capacity, learning, memory and resilience. Jensen states that enriched environments can affect:
- Metabolic Allostasis: Changes in blood flow, baseline chemical levels and metabolic functioning.
- Enhanced Anatomical Structures: Larger neurons and more developed cell structures
- Increased Connectivity: Increased circuitry and branching from one neuron to another
- Responsiveness and Learning Efficiency: Enhanced electrical signaling, cell efficiency and neural processing
- Increased Neurogenesis and Growth Factors: Production of new brain cells as well as special proteins that are important for the brains survival
- Recovery from Trauma and System Disorders: Protection from stress and greater capacity to heal when damaged
Studies conducted by Diamond and Hopson in 1998 and Greenough and Anderson 1991 provide evidence that the human brain maintains its plasticity throughout life and that the brain can grow neural connections with stimulation, which means that nearly any learner can increase their intelligence with the proper enrichment. Jensen indentifies five ‘critical ingredients’ for enriching the brain. They are:
- Challenge – standards, resources
- Novelty – contrasting, new
- Feedback – timely, specific
- Coherence – meaningful, choice
- Time – greater changes need more
In his study involving children of low IQ parents, Crain Ramey (1992) found that the group exposed to an enriched environment scored significantly higher (20 points) on the post treatment IQ test than the control group who were not exposed to an enriched environment. These children were tested again 10 years later and results showed that the effects of early intervention had lasted. Jensen claims this proves that intelligence can be increased with mental stimulation and enriched environments. What are the implications for schools?
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