The 6 Secrets for Success in School and our A.D.H.D Students
There has certainly been plenty of discussion regarding the marked rise in the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. in school-age children. The following statement garnered a great deal of attention last week when Alan Schwarz and Sarah Cohen published it in the NY Times (March 31, 2013), “Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” The flurry of discussion regarding this article got me to thinking about not only the diagnosis and medication of students, but about the contributing factors and how we address A.D.H.D. in schools. The more I thought about it the more I came back to the underlying research and the secrets presented in Helping Boys Learn.
As Dr. Dixon explains in his book, drawing on the work of Michael Gurian and others, male brains are wired differently than female brains. Specifically, that while the female brain, even at a very young age is wired for language, the male brain is wired for movement. Gurian further discusses the continuum upon which brains fall and the idea of “bridge brains”. This theory seems to hold true also for children diagnosed with A.D.H.D., the left prefrontal cortex of the brain is less developed, which when we consider that the prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is in charge of executive function explains why these children struggle with focusing attention, impulse control and delaying gratification, modulation of intense emotions, organizing thoughts and problem solving, inhibiting inappropriate behavior and initiating appropriate behavior. This paired with a more highly developed motor cortex can certainly make the typical classroom environment particularly challenging for these students.
It would seem that if we understand the differences in the brain and the impact of this when designing our learning environment and learning tasks, we could maximize motivation and increase achievement not just in boys, but in other marginalized learners. This certainly seems to make the case for utilizing the 6 secrets outlined in Helping Boys Learn.
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