Archives for What I’ve Been Reading

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The Teenage Brain is Primed for Learning

What was he thinking?

Is there a parent out there who can't relate to the first sentence of The Teenage Brain, by Frances E. Jensen, MD?

She's a neuroscientist specializing in adolescent brain development and the mother of two teenage boys, and her book is "a survival guide" full of important information about how brains develop, what's going on inside the skulls of adolescents, and what this means for how we parent and educate our teens and young adults.

I've just started reading this book, and here are a few of the nuggets I've already discovered:
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Book Lists

The Wisdom to Know the Difference (Day Twelve: Twelve Days of Wisdom)

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
-The Serenity Prayer
I like Victorian-era cemeteries, and whenever I visit one the Serenity Prayer enters my mind.

In those days there was no cure for tuberculosis, which was romantically called "consumption" and which along with other infectious diseases filled the churchyards and necessitated the creation of vast new burying grounds.

Victorian cemeteries were intended as parks where families could picnic and visit their departed loved ones on Sunday afternoons.
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Emotions and Feelings

The Basic Physical Stuff is Amazingly Important (Day Nine: Twelve Days of Wisdom)

Sleep is the best meditation. -Dalai Lama
These are the simplest pieces of wisdom in this whole collection, and they are amazingly powerful.

Oh, how I wish I could relive those days in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s (days?...actually years) of chronic weariness, when I was heroically trying to “do it all” and muddling through on way too little sleep.
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Book Lists

You Can Become a Better Person (Day Seven: Twelve Days of Wisdom)

It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you. -Randy Pausch

I make my living working with kids, and it’s my impression that most of them have little clue as to what they want to do with their lives, and that they find the very question terrifying.
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Emotions and Feelings

Day Four: Memory is not accurate. Nope, not even yours. (Twelve Days of Wisdom)

Our memories can seem so vivid and realistic, it’s hard to believe they’re not literally true! But memory doesn’t work like a video camera.

For one thing, due to our limited powers of attention (see Day One) we never get the whole story to begin with. Then, every time we recall an event our minds edit and interpret and embellish, like a fish story.

And we do an especially inaccurate job on emotionally loaded events; we freight those memories with so much emotional baggage that they become personal fairy tales more than actual recollections.
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Emotions and Feelings

Day Two: Emotions affect reasoning. (Twelve Days of Wisdom)

People use words as weapons, to defend themselves. It is common for people to attack with anger when they are afraid and to become insulting when they are hurt or jealous.  -Dr. Shirley Glass

When we are anxious or angry we can’t think straight. This means we ought to avoid taking action or having heavy conversations while immersed in these mood states.

The emotions of fear and anger trigger our internal fight-or-flight mechanism, which sends epinephrine (adrenalin) gushing through our bloodstream. Our heart races, our blood pressure shoots up, our platelets ready themselves to clot in case we are injured...and our higher-level thinking skills shut down. After all, it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to run from a saber-toothed tiger.
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