The Brain

Why Understanding Brain Development is Important

Brain Development Overview

The human brain is a complex system that is organized on several levels. They consist of basic neurons and networks of neurons and larger organizations, subcortical, and cortical structures. The brain is complex, but each part is responsible for carrying out different actions. If one of those parts are damaged, then it can cause a person to act differently. It is important for educators to understand brain development because they need to know why each student they encounter acts the way they do.


Potential Brain Damaging Factors

Normal brain development can be disrupted by many different factors. Physical injury, malnutrition, alcohol and drug use during pregnancy, medication, etc. The brain is made up of neurons that send signals to other parts of the brain. When those neurons do not develop correctly, problems occur. There is research that documents severe mental, physical, and behavioral disorders are caused when brain development is disrupted.


Why is This Important to Educators?

It is important for educators to know about the damaging factors because it may apply to some of their students. An educator should make it a point to read each students file, so that they know and understand their background. This is important because a student may be acting out or performing poorly in their classroom and the educator may not be taking the appropriate steps when disciplining or evaluating that student. Educators should be able to say that student is acting this way because brain development was damaged. They then should be able to take the proper channels to get the student the help they need.

Educators should also be aware of the effects of these damaging factors because different factors can effect different parts of the brain. For example, when the lower left frontal lobe is damaged it can cause serious speech problems. If the left temporal lobe is damaged it can cause an inability to understand spoken or written language. Those are just a few examples of what dangerous factors can do to damage the development of the brain. Research has discovered that no single locales in the brain are responsible for vision, language, social behavior, or other complex capabilities. So in other words, it is important for educators to know what their students have been through, so they can have an explanation for the way their students learn and behave.


Experience in the Classroom

I had a student once who had horrible behavior. He would not complete any assignments without multiple re-directions, would not follow any classroom or school rules, and had no friends. I was really concerned about this student at the beginning of the year, but because of his terrible attitude, I assumed that the student was choosing to act this way. Half way through the year, another teacher asked how the student was doing and I responded by "He is horrible and choose not to do anything he is asked." The teacher said to me "You know he has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and it has caused him to develop Mood Disorder?" At that moment, I felt like the worst teacher. First I did some research on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and learned that it effects the brain and other parts of the fetus' body during development. Then I quickly realized that I had been treating this student negatively based on an assumption. From that day forward, I made it a point to research my students and find out as much about them as I could. This is just a small example of why it is important for educators to know and understand brain development and that there are factors that can interrupt the development and cause the person to have problems throughout life.