Goldie Hawn has put together a team of some of the leading neuroscientist and educators in the world to formulate a curriculum called MindUp that teaches children how to use their brain. Our brain is capable of producing absolutely astonishing things. It can produce the next scientific discovery, create music never heard before, and even change the world -- if used correctly.
When the brain is not used correctly, it can lead people to do bad things. I know this because; I was at one a time a major trouble-maker; so I'm fascinated with all the latest scientific research about the brain. When I was younger, I spent four out of five days in the principal's office. In grade school, they practically formulated a committee to come up with solutions to stop me from terrorizing the class room.
From my own experience, I can tell you what does work -- mindfulness. I was exposed to mindfulness, by a western trained physician when I was a teenager, and it's a tool that radically changed my life. I learned how to focus on my breathing and to change how I react to situations in life. I did well in college because of mindfulness, and I wish I was taught it when I was in grade school. Because of it, I never got in trouble again.
No, it's not a cure all for all the problems in our education system. But it's something that can be easily implemented to help strengthen focus, build resilience, and help children to recognize harmful emotions such as aggression.
The ability to recognize emotions within the brain is probably the single most important tool children should learn. Self-awareness and self-regulation are one of the tools that the MindUp program is teaching children. MindUp teaches children how to recognize positive emotions in their brain such as kindness, happiness, and empathy.
Think about, how many problems in the world could be solved if children were taught from a young age how to recognize emotions such as aggression and turn them into kindness.
I one time asked a friend who was a neuroscientist why I was so wild when I was younger. Half my right knuckle is missing because I broke it from getting into so many fights. I told him a story about how I almost fought a gym teacher, who was about the size of a professional linebacker. He started laughing hysterically and said, "Your frontal lobe was not yet developed, so you were a getting a rush of emotions you couldn't handle."
An area of the frontal lobe called the "pre-frontal cortex" doesn't fully develop until around the age of 25. The pre-frontal cortex is in charge of planning, reasoning, and impulse control. Mindfulness may strengthen this area of the brain. I openly share these stories because anyone who's ever met me, would probably find this hard to believe. They would probably say I'm a really calm and laid back person. I'm not the same person I was as a kid, because of mindfulness.
The MindUp program is looking to give children mindful education tools to bring emotional balance and well-being into their life. One of the activities taught; that is absolutely incredible is called the amygdala shake-up. This activity teaches students to be patient. Something I wish was taught when I was in school.
The teacher takes a coke bottle with sand and glitter; than shakes it up to show what happens when we get angry. The teacher then takes the bottle and sets it the right way so that the sand and glitter can settle. This gives the students a visual example of about how long it takes for the amygdala to settle after we get upset.This teaches children that they don't have to act off the fear based emotions that they are receiving form the amygdala.
I think MindUp is a program that can literally change the world. Goldie Hawn and her team are tirelessly working to bring this program into every school in the world. I encourage you to check out The Hawn Foundation to learn more.