RefinED Character is an educational consulting company specializing in social emotional development for preK-12 and collegiate communities.


Three Names You May Not Know, But Should

Posted by Scott Heydt on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 Under: SEL and Neurodevelopment

RefinED Friends,

Jay Giedd, Jean Decety, Lauren Howard.  Do these names ring a bell?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  Regardless, they know your brain.  They're in your heads.

I'm a professed neuroscience geek.  Over the last few years, I've become increasingly fascinated by studies involving Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and concentrated research connecting social emotional learning and childhood brain development.  Technology now allows scientists to map active regions of the brain as individuals perform tasks.  What a world we live in!

Dr. Jay Giedd is Chief of the Unit on Brain Imaging in the Child Psychiatry Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  His work has transformed the way we look at the adolescent brain and helps us understand why our teenage years were more than just hormones.  We essentially go through a re-boot of our brains--a massive neural blossoming unlike any other in our lives.  If you some time, this video is worth your while.  

Jean Decety, a neurobiologist and professor of Psychology at University of Chicago, teamed with Lauren Howard, a fellow University of Chicago Psychology Department professor, discovered proof that moral development in children and adults are not only processed differently in certain ways.  Moreover, their continued research proves just how much emotion, self-awareness, and cognition play in our moral judgment.  I encourage you to peruse these articles:  "The Role of Affect in the Neurodevelopment of Morality" and "A Neurodevelopmental Perspective on Morality."  Also, although harder to access, check out "Emotion, Morality, and the Developing Brain", which is a chapter within a collection entitled Mechanisms of Social Connection.  

Taken together, these three (but certainly not these three alone) inadvertently emphasize the impact social emotional learning has on young minds.  At a time when the brain is ripe to receive and make new, lasting connections, educators, parents, and society must guide students as they interpret emotions, understand their actions in relation to a greater purpose, and form healthy relationships.  To teach morality only through the cognitive path, it shows, will not achieve our goals.

I know, heavy reading for a Monday.  But while you may not be as big a nerd as me, as Zach Galifianakis said in "The Campaign", "It's worth a Google."


In : SEL and Neurodevelopment 

Tags: "social emotional learning" "jay giedd" "jean decety" "moral development" morality "adolescent brain" "university of chicago" "lauren howard"