Mike Nagel, Associate Professor at University of the Sunshine Coast, happens to be one of our parents and so we are fortunate that we can avail ourselves of the opportunity to hear from him regularly about his work in neuroscience, adolescence and education. (Not sure that his daughter would agree…!) He has published a number of books on this and related areas, such as Nurturing a Healthy Mind.
This afternoon, Mike spoke about recent findings in neuroscience to help us to reflect on whether what we do, how we do it and when we do it is likely to lead to optimal learning and well-being.
One point that resonated loudly with the assembled staff was the levels of stress that the current generation of students reports / has been found to suffer. The causes are not simple but may be related to the kind of, and duration of, ‘screen time’ involving activities such as social media.
Mike explained that, as we have known for some time, the best way to minimise stress is to ensure four aspects of a students’ life are robustly maintained:
Sleep – more than eight hours
Healthy diet – not only avoiding junk food but ensuring balanced nutrition
Exercise – 30 minutes or more a day produces significantly more capacity
Downtime – not simply doing something else on a computer, but putting everything aside.
There were many more insights offered (especially about the vital importance of establishing a supportive and healthy rapport with students at the outset), but this ‘takeaway’ seems salient as our Year 12 students in Queensland yet again enjoy the pressures of the Core Skills Test and their final major set of summative assessments prior to verification.