I’ve long been interested in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and often thought that although it is a theory of psychology – it makes complete sense when applied to physiological systems including nerve systems and brain development. If a child, adult, or even mechanical system is stressed – it is not going to develop or perform optimally. If a human being is focused on basic survival – the neural system is not going to develop the ability for complex abstract thought and projection. It’s going to focus on getting air, water, food, and rest. And therefore the brain development in this scenario would be limited to what the body needed to focus on to survive. This article (http://news.sciencemag.org/brain-behavior/2015/03/poverty-may-affect-growth-children-s-brains) talks about a scientific study that shows poverty correlates with less brain development. A very interesting finding for us educators to look at and find creative ways to address!
From a sensory perspective – I wonder what children with Sensory Processing Disorder (a neurological challenge) need in order to learn and develop optimally. Because these children’s systems are on high alert, and often acting at a high level of stress due to unpredictability and fear of assault from the external (or internal) environment – how can we create a safe and calming environment where their nervous systems can calm, and take in new material and develop new pathways? All children to optimally learn need to be able to filter out ambient sensory noise, or need to learn in an environment that limits sensory noise. In a traditional classroom sensory noise includes tiled and echoing rooms, other kids voices, other kids and teachers bodies (standing in line), banging lockers, desks and books, alarm bells, buzzing and flickering poor quality lights, unpleasant smells, traffic, construction, etc. No wonder kids come home from school stressed out!