Pat Wolfe – Mind Matters, Inc.

Brainy Bunch News


The BB Renewal (open only to trainers) will be held January 16, 17, and 18, 2015 at the Napa River Inn.  (Check in on January 15.) The theme is Social-Emotional Learning.   Speakers are Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang (USC) and Dr. Marc Brackett (Yale).  Sessions will be held from 8:30 until 3:30 each day.

Costs: $1400.00 for a single room at the Inn, $1100.00 if you are sharing a room at the Inn and $700.00 if you book your own room at another hotel.  The fees include your registration, room and breakfast (if staying at the Inn) lunches by Tony Spleen, wine reception and all materials.

Please copy and send the registration form below as soon as possible but by November 15, 2013 at the latest.  A $300.00 deposit will be due by November 30, 2012.  The Renewal will be limited to 45 trainers.  (I am holding a space for those of you who let me know you will be attending, but you still need to register.) Mail your form to Mind Matters, Inc., 555 Randolph Street, Napa, CA 94559 or email it to me  Checks should be made out to Mind Matters, Inc.



—————————————————————————————————–BB Renewal, January, 2015———————————————————–








_____ I will be staying at the Inn and I would like a single room.


_____ I will be staying at the Inn and would like to share a room with______________________________________________________


_____ I will not be staying at the Inn


_____ I prefer a vegetarian lunch


_____ I prefer a meat lunch (no beef)

An Excellent Article………….

Brain Science
Holds Key to Instilling Love of Learning

Posted: 09/23/2013 9:25 am

We’ve all heard that effective teachers, involved parents and engaged student
are critical keys to school success. But another instrumental factor is just as
obvious (though complex) – a child’s brain. And science is reading its cues.

Using tools such as brain imaging, researchers are getting an inside look at
the cognitive functions that are responsible for a child’s learning and memory,
reading and self-control skills. Researchers have found that while genetics
influence brain development, so do a child’s socioeconomic status and life
experience. Indeed, some brain functions are far more affected by life
experience than they are by genetics.

Because the brain is constantly under construction, there is real hope that by
altering those influences that can be controlled, the brain can be developed to
meet desired outcomes. That has tremendous implications for learning and

Neuroscience — which is the study of the nervous system — highlights the
influence that effort, deliberative and guided practice play on learning and
ultimately the development of expertise. This can unleash the love of learning
and a resilience that is required for a “growth mindset” to emerge.
In turn, this mindset enables the learner to power through the challenge and
fear of failure, enabling skills to develop and great accomplishments to

The National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, along with our district
partners around the country, finds that sharing this understanding with
students often facilitates a sense of trust that they are in control of their
skill development. Belief in their ability to learn can lead to a
“mindful” state of hopefulness. The determination that comes from
hope can help students develop the confidence needed to accelerate their
academic, occupational and civic trajectories.

Neuroscience reveals the miraculous workings of the brain: how memory is stored
and where; how to retrieve it; how to grow brain cells through physical
activity and mental stimulation. It also explains how neurotransmitters —
chemicals that communicate information throughout the brain and body — work by
sending signals that engage the left and right hemispheres, the prefrontal
cortex (which regulates behavior and analyzes thought) of the brain along with
the hippocampus (responsible for memory and organization.)

The brain has a neural plasticity that literally is shaped by life experiences
— for better or worse. For example, stress associated with prejudice,
stereotype threat, feelings of failure, ambiguity attributes, inability to
succeed, positional or marginalizing language, and feelings of low self-esteem
can cause the hormone cortisol to be created and released. Cortisol can inhibit
comprehension, resulting in underachievement, and cognitively predispose an
individual to repeat the same things over and over, including patterns of poor
performance and self-sabotaging behaviors, including violence.

But what happens if we help control the stress?

Brain cells build on what is known (prior knowledge), but they also can connect
with new information, concepts and ideas when neurotransmitters stimulate
neighboring cells. For example, dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter, affects
cognitive ability, focus and motivation. Oxytocin, the “love” and
“trust” hormone, affects depression, reduces social fears and helps
us to emotionally connect with people. Norepinephrine is a part of our
fight-or-flight reflex, regulating attention, readiness and motivation.
Serotonin aids executive functioning in the prefrontal lobes and helps regulate

The brain is built during childhood, but it’s important to recognize that it
can be remolded or modified in adulthood, enabling the brain to adapt to any
number of circumstances, grow new neural pathways with the help of
neurotransmitters, or even develop bilaterally in one hemisphere — when the
left, for an example, is removed to control for epilepsy.

The regeneration of cells in the hippocampus, which medical researchers
believed to be impossible several years ago, has been found possible when other
cells are destroyed As mentioned above, the hippocampus plays an important role
in learning and memory for children and adults; as does the prefrontal cortex,
where executive functions and self-concepts come together and can accelerate
and deepen.

The classroom can be one of the positive life experiences that nurture positive
brain development.

When students are provided with instruction that is student-centered and
contains challenging content, guided reflection, outlets for self-expression,
feedback, and connects to their frame of reference and prior knowledge,
neuroscience tells us that cognitive dysfunctions can be mitigated and
intellectual development can be optimized.

Learning is propelled when students are provided opportunities to demonstrate
strengths and apply learning in meaningful ways, support to address weaknesses,
strategies for developing critical thinking, and experiences that encourage
them to be focused, engaged, vocal, tenacious, self-confident and

So the next time someone tells you that any student or group of students is
destined to fail in school, don’t believe them. Their path is in their heads.
If they have belief, hope and tenacity, there is no telling how far students
can go.

Eric J. Cooper is the founder and president of the National Urban Alliance for
Effective Education, a nonprofit professional development organization that
provides student-focused professional development, advocacy and organizational
guidance to accelerate student achievement. He can be reached at