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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Happy Gilmore to Brain Science

August, it’s like the Sunday of summer!   And it is here.  whether its fishing, golf, biking or just laying on the beach, I hope you enjoyed your summer immensely!  For me it is biking and golfing, two wonderful diversions to that work thing we have to do. 

Do you remember Happy Gilmore here?  My golf swing is about as ugly as his, but certainly doesn’t have the same outcomes.  I really enjoy golf, but I’m no good, so I sometimes watch golf videos on YouTube, you can learn anything on YouTube.

Sometime not long ago, one of those golf videos got me to thinking.  This dude who gets paid to talk about golf in videos is explaining the wonders of a relaxed grip on the club and letting the science take over.  RELAXED?  SCIENCE? really, I thought it was all grip it and rip it!? So I tried it, I unfurled my fingers a little from the white knuckle grasp I typically use and gave it a few swings.  SUCCESS, well a little anyway, I’ll never be good. The thing is on relaxing the grip, it also relaxed the wrist, and slowed down the backswing.  The centripetal force of the club on my hands brought it through the ball naturally and the ball sailed higher, straighter and longer than I’ve hit it for years.

The science tells the story, in a relaxed mode, the outcome happens naturally and the stress, which was typical in my swing , disappeared, along with its bad results.  The analogy here could be seen in our relationship with students.  In Love and Logic, we learned to stay calm, you can’t argue with an angry child.  Does yelling at a child produce positive results?  Not for long, stress builds, the relationship frays, and the TIGHT GRIP of adult control has the negative effect of unpredictable responses; impulsive, angry, defiant, fearful, or tearful.  

The science tells us that’s going to happen.  Relationships can’t be built in a high stress environment.  When stressed (or yelled at by a trusted adult) the "fight or flight" reflex is triggered by the sympathetic nervous system, making the amygdala (emotional part of the brain) take charge, shutting down the prefrontal cortex (thinking part) and the result is impulsive anger, or tearful rejection.

The culture of a building or district is defined by the beliefs and behaviors of the social group which are acceptable and common to the population.  When we stress the population, the the culture deteriorates. Schools need a positive, caring and engaging culture.  That is why we are bringing Leader In Me to the district.  It is a tool to teach adults and students the 7Habits of Successful People, and while doing so we will be improving culture.  I'm not saying it will be all laid back and out of control.  We still need rules and regulations to be followed, but how we all react when rules are forgotten is the goal.  Its about a calm and thoughtful reaction that doesn't create stress.

Looking forward to a stress free and great 2018-19 school year!

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