What if the way to reach the full potential of our students was through their hearts?

Amélie Bédard, a school inclusion professional at the CSSDPS, presents a metaphor on the theme of the balance between the heart and the brain, as well as its influence on the development of cognitive skills.

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By Amélie Bédard, inclusive education professional at the CSSDPS

Balanced. Indulgence. Benevolence. Needs. Learning. Well-being.

These words will be knitted throughout this text, as the intertwined little wools of our heart and brain do every day. When our heart - our emotional control center - is invaded by our emotions, it goes out of balance and races, pulling the wool towards it, unraveling our brain and its cognitive skills.

Of course, in reality, everything is played out in the brain. However, this meaningful metaphor clearly demonstrates the interdependence between what we will call the heart (affect) and the brain (intellect). An interdependence that we can no longer ignore, for the well-being of our children, but also ours.

As teachers, we are increasingly aware that the hearts of our students are a precious treasure that must be taken care of, in order to cultivate all the little wonders that it conceals and that activate their learner brain.

But how do you take care of it? And why the well-being is it so important at school? 

I deeply believe that any human being who feels accepted, understood, loved, listened to, welcomed, guided and accompanied can only become committed, benevolent, welcoming and loving. At the very least, these protective factors will give him the necessary foundations to open up to others, develop a taste for learning and dare to take risks.

By taking care of our students' hearts, by nurturing their emotional security, we make them available for learning, and give them the chance to use their brains to their full potential. They will thus become “learners-active-citizens-of-tomorrow-in-emotional-security” ready to face the world around them. The school environment in which they operate must be imbued with human warmth and bring together the winning conditions to reduce stressors. Kindness, welcome and emotional security: this is how we offer them an emotional balance, essential to their well-being to help them become the best version of themselves.

And the brain in all of this?

Our brain is a real gold mine that allows us to develop, understand and learn. So complete and so fragile at the same time, he needs the balance of the heart to continue on his way. An incredible engine of creativity and learning for our students, it cannot function smoothly without emotional security. Therefore, the heart cannot be ignored or treated separately when it comes to learning and skills development. It is the heart and its tightly knitted emotional security that gives the brain the thread, the latitude it needs to deploy effectively. What a missed opportunity it would be, for us teachers, but also for the students, if we did not have access to all the potential contained in this engine.

Whether we are adults or children, our functioning is no different, we are all learners. In the face of new learning, changes and stress, we can only regulate ourselves if the heart and brain are in balance. 

In the face of new learning, changes and stress, we can only regulate ourselves if the heart and brain are in balance. 

Balance begins with the heart

The best way to see students' creativity and desire to learn flourish is to take care of their hearts, nurture their emotional security, and welcome them as they are. In this great adventure of teaching, be indulgent with them, but also with yourself. Your heart - and your brain! - will thank you.

We know that education is a science in motion, in evolution, which comes with a whole set of questions. In this search for balance between the heart and the brain, a big question remains… How can we do otherwise?

The answer is undoubtedly at the intersection of two small cohesive wools. I propose some possible solutions in this conference given at the Summer Congress of the Institute on Learning Disabilities entitled What if an inclusive and universal approach was the solution to adapt to the current situation? 

Amélie will facilitate a workshop on the theme Create a climate conducive to learning and plan with an inclusive approach and universal during our next CréaCamp SPRINT on November 20. Places are always available.

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