From the Principal’s Desk

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My mum was right. Mums usually are, but let me tell you how.

I am reading a fascinating book by Norman Doidge entitled ‘The Brain that Changes Itself’. It is about neuroplasticity. Our traditional view of the brain is that it is little like an arm or a leg – once it has reached adult size it is pretty much fixed in size and function. He quotes a number of examples of people who have lost a significant portion of their brain function following a stroke, reaction to medication or physical injury. These may be motor functions or cognitive skills. With a great deal of time, dedication and rehabilitative effort, these people’s brains have been able to ‘rewire’ themselves to compensate for the damaged and lost functions. These people have learnt to walk and talk again. The brain has an incredible capacity to grow and adapt. This does not stop at a particular age and there are dramatic examples of relatively elderly patients who have suffered stokes and have recovered remarkably well.

I take great encouragement from this research for our SEND students. With the right attitude, determination, perseverance and support from home and school they can significantly raise their levels of concentration or whatever their challenges may be. Diet, exercise and using the learning support strategies can make a world of difference. People can change the way in which their brains work. “One reason we can change our brains simply by imagining is that, from a neuroscientific point of view, imagining an act and doing it are not as different as they sound. When people close their eyes and visualize a simple object, such as the letter ‘a’, the primary visual cortex lights up, just as it would if the subjects were actually looking at the letter ‘a’. Brain scans show that in action and imagination many of the same parts of the brain are activated. That is why visualizing can improve performance.”

“Neuroplasticity is the property of the brain that enables it to change its own structure and functioning in response to activity and mental experience.….The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself.” 

When I was ten my mother decided that I should take Latin at school. I was very unenthusiastic and couldn’t see the benefit of learning an obsolete language. She explained how it is the foundation of many European languages and literature and, most importantly that it would be good exercise for my brain. I laughed at the notion that the brain could be exercised. I did study Latin at school, reluctantly, and went on to take a Greek and Roman Literature and Philosophy course at university which was fascinating.  Good to know that the latest research is proving that mum was right.

DSIB inspection

We have been informed that our annual DSIB inspection will be held in the week of the 13th – 16th November. This is much earlier than in previous years: we were last inspected in February and before that we were inspected in late March, of each year. That’s a good thing – they will see the school in its normal rhythm and flow.

Dubai news

I was interested to see yesterday a map of the Dubai Metro expansion that will serve the Expo 2020 site. It will swoosh right through DIP via Discovery Gardens, the new site and end at Al Maktoum airport. This will enable anyone living near a metro line to have very quick, reliable and safe access a new metro station close to our school.

 Have a great half term break!

-Andy Wood-

Principal

Greenfield Community School 

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