Quotable — Adele Diamond

by M.C. Antil on November 5, 2010

Dr. Adele Diamond

It amazes me that politicians continue to refer to issues like crime and the loss of American jobs as problems

Those aren’t problems.  Those are symptoms. 

And for a politician to say he or she is going to address either issue without tackling the root problem; namely, this country’s flagging commitment to public education and our obsession with teaching kids, not so much how to think, but what to think — is the political equivalent of spitting into the wind.

To that end, take a listen to this terrific interview with neuroscientist Adele Diamond, which can be found here. It originally aired on the American Public Radio program “Being,” hosted by the wonderful Krista Tippett.

Here’s just one portion of the interview: 

“We need to look back…There was wisdom in previous generations that we’re ignoring…We think we’re going to be ‘modern,’ and that we can do better than our parents and grandparents.  There are things that have been part of the human condition for thousands of years — that have been part of the human condition for good reason, otherwise they would have been weeded out — (things like) music…dance…story telling…the play of children.

Schools think, ‘We don’t have time for play, and we don’t have time for the arts.  We have to focus on academic content because (the students) are going to get tested at the end of the year, and we have to make sure they do well on these tests.’

Our research is showing that if the children have more time to play they do better on these academic outcome measures than if they spend more time in direct academic instruction.

Things like the arts, or sports, help develop cognitive skills like sustaining attention…like being able to hold information in mind. These things also improve social skills…which is terribly important to doing well.

They also use your body, and we know that if you’re physically healthy, your pre-frontal cortex and brain work better.  And we know too that leading a sedentary life is terrible for your brain and your cognitive skills.”

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