Brain Rules

By: John Medina

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4 Stars for Medina

The book ‘Brain Rules’ is a book I would recommend to any teacher who wants to know how to get the most out of our brains in the simplest form. Whenever you pick up a book about the brain it can be a little intimidating because who wants to read a book with 5,000 words they do not know and 10,000 processes of the brain that will probably never be explained to you. It is understandable that we are not all psychology teachers, or neurologists. If you are a teacher looking to read this book, I would read it before every school to remind yourself that the classroom is a tool to help students learn and sharpen their brain, not fry it. It is easy to understand and look at how to make changes to your own daily routine to make yourself the best brained self you can be. Some Things that you can expect to take away from this book after reading it is, how hard we are on our brains. Medina makes it seem so easy to take care of your brain. This book should be read by teachers, students, businessmen, and anyone else who wants to be able to look at their daily lives and the way they are treating their bodies, and make a change to help better themselves.

What can be said?

The author goes through and talks about the 12 rules of the brain that we all need to follow to be better at what we do. For me that would be helping me in school. Rule one survival: The human brain evolved, too. This mainly was the part of the book that the author talks about how the human brain became the sophisticated one that it is now. So not as easy to relate to, but important to know for the rest of the book. Rule two exercise: exercise boosts brain power. I have found that during my tennis season, I may be more stressed out about school because of time management but I am more focused on the work I am doing and I tend to get better grades on test and papers. I have also noticed that the days I am in my EIP classroom and the students had P.E. class that morning, they also seem more focused and will get their work done faster but more accurately. Rule three sleep: Sleep well, think well. When high school rolled around this is something that everyone gets smacked in the face with. I know exactly the way I act when I have not had enough sleep. All the things I self assessed on myself, I found to be true in this book. Whether it be a massive headache or just not being able to stay focused, it was all justified. We need sleep period, it was probably the biggest rule I struggle with and I feel every teenager would agree. Rule four stress: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way. The more I read the book the more apparent it was to me that every teacher and student should have a requirement to read this book. Senior year is not a breeze let me tell you. In the book Medina talk about how stress if hard to measure which I totally understand. Some people study public speaking, they love it so much, to others public speaking is their worst nightmare. Therefor in the education system it is hard to tell how much stress a student will be under when you give them a project because everyone has different stress levels, and things that set them off. Rule five wiring: Every brain is wired differently. This is also something that was very easy to relate to. I have a group of very intelligent friends who do not like taking the ACT but it is not hard for them to come out of it with anything above a 30. For me on the other hand, big tests are very difficult to me and I am better at doing tasks and being rated on them rather than times knowledge. Rule six attention: We don’t pay attention to boring things. Amen John Medina. You are a smart man, who knows his stuff. This is easily relatable, coming from students who sit in classes all day, sitting, and typing, sitting and typing. It is an awful pattern that is hard to get out of when you are not in control. At 9 minutes and 59 seconds our brain wonder. Meaning we need something to catch our attention again after that time is up to keep up intrigued. this varies on student to student of course but is also a part that needs to be played by the teacher. that is only about 4-5 major attention grabbers that a teacher needs to have in a class period. Give or take the subject this could be easy or very difficult. Rule seven memory: Repeat to remember. Think how many times the Pledge of Allegiance has been said and you were saying it along with everyone else. Now think of the most stressful time in your life, and tell me if you would have been able to say the Pledge of Allegiance in that moment faster than you can say America? The answer is probably yes. Teachers and mentors, starting off as soon as preschool, say the pledge with little children every day for more than one reason, but the reason that I am going to talk about is memorization. Think if you learned the same thing every single day until you graduated you would could repeat everything you knew because you would have heard it so often. This most definitely works. Rule eight sensory integration: Stimulate more of your senses. The more things that are stimulating your mind the more ways there are for your brain to perceive something.This can be like multitasking for your brain but this is healthy and possible. Paring two senses boosts one. This is like driving a car. Listening to music, while keeping your eyes alert, makes for a better reaction time of your foot on the pedals. Rule nine vision: Vision trumps all other senses. I can see this happening all the time with me personally. I know of more than one time when my vision was off and it leads to so many other problems, unlike if I have a stuffy nose and cannot breath. There are certain things your brain cannot do when you can not see. For instance, your memory is not as good as it can be. You initial glance at what you need to remember is not going through the process of being looked at. Rule ten music: Study or listen to boost cognition. I for one know that whenever I listen to music I am so much more focused and get so much more done. According to Medina people who study music are better listeners. I for one have not studied music since the seventh grade so that is slightly harder to connect to. Rule eleven gender: Male and female brains are different. One of the main differences to men and women that are easy for people without a microscope to see is behavior. I for one could attest to saying that girls most definitely mature faster than boys. I like being able to see this when I baby sit. I have been babysitting a pair of twins since they were practically born, and it is amazing to see how much they have both been maturing and growing. How much faster the girl matures is very evident especially when you have a boy at the same age always with her. Rule twelve exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers. From eighteen months babies start to see things possessive, and refer to things as “mine”. They find things and they want it. They will not stop until they think they have what they thought they wanted. This is a natural thing the body has been doing since the beginning of humans. Being around small children a lot, as I babysit, you learn what they are trying to get and how much of a fit they will throw until they get what they want. Now part of that can come from the parent and how much they are willing to give into the babies wants.

Questions that scratched the brain

  1. Have these studies that are studied in the book all performed in america? If not how big of a difference would it make and how do we know that? (Most likely a large link to sociology)

  2. Medina says that we get new information about newborn brains every year, how do we get this knowledge and how useful is the information we have if it is always changing?

  3. Is John Medina himself an active follower of his own rules or does he just study them?

  4. Following that, how much has his life changed (or anyone who tries all the rules) in his work and home, if he is following what he is saying?

  5. How much of this book is bias even though a ton of studies were done to help write it and prove the points?

  6. Is it okay that I think some of the rules were hard to tie to my everyday life, and there were other ones that I would have added to help people improve their brain instead of understand it?

  7. Does the complexity of all the rules change as we get older or how does it work when we are little to when our brain is as sharp as it will ever be?

  8. Is there a way I can tie this into a classroom without it seeming like I am conducting science experiments and am actually working it into the curriculum to help the students?

How about the classroom?

A great way that I could incorporate this book into the classroom is do something that I have seen in my EIP classroom. At Kelly Brooke, and I think all of the other elementary school, the children practice the 7 healthy habits. With the help of their teachers, the classes of students work together to work on each habit to be the best they can be. I think that if I taught high school, I could do a version of this in the classroom. Some of the things that are in the book would be harder to monitor and work towards like sleeping. As hard as it would be to monitor that, I could use almost all the other rules when possible. To make it more realistic I could make it project base and devote a month to each rule and tie it into whatever we are learning. Not only will it beneficial to the students and their work habits and studies, but it will reflect well on me. Which can be so very important. If I could get even the basis of what each rule is and have students try to focus on one and practice it, it will benefit them and make everyone happier, smarter, and sharper.