Empowering Students to Flex Their Brains
Is intelligence inborn or acquired?
Tragically, many struggling students believe the former, concluding that there is no hope for them to improve their academic performance or to advance to higher education.
Nitzan Tamari, TFI Cohort 6 teacher at Jerusalem’s Keshet-TALPAZ elementary school, is using the latest research in neuroscience to change her students’ perspectives and empower them to dream big.
In the summer of 2017, Nitzan was selected to be one of three TFI STEM elementary teachers to attend a week of special training at the RELAY Graduate School of Education in New York. At RELAY she learned how to employ findings from neuroscience into her classroom.
The method is simple: teach children how the brain works, specifically that intelligence is not something that we are born with, but rather something can be developed, as one strengthens a muscle.
“It was inspiring,” she described, “We observed a teacher teaching second graders about neurons and how the brain works. I thought it would be above them, but they understood!”
Back in Israel, at the beginning of the school year Nitzan led a series of similar lessons for her students. “I saw in their eyes that they had hope, that for the first time they believed that they can succeed. This was especially true for the kids who struggle the most,” she said.
Nitzan is now building on this understanding by working with her students to set personal goals, and to make specific plans to reach those goals.
“My kids now understand that if they work hard they will succeed, because that’s how the brain works,” she explained.