We are again proud to feature one of our certified trainer's, Rosemarie Engman, and her class at Sacred Heart School in Bellevue, Washington. If you read this newsletter, you may remember that she and her class are making video clips of Gurian strategies they use in their classrooms and buildings. Rosemarie's class created an instructional clip for the "Walk and Talk" strategy earlier in the fall. Now she has created a clip for "Hallway Work." Both clips can be accessed by clicking here.
Please join Rosemarie and her school by sending us video clips of your strategies in action! Boys and girls learn differently--you might well be revolutionizing classrooms on a daily basis. Thanks again, Rosemarie, and many thanks to your students, and Sacred Heart School.
Come learn with us in Arizona for a day all about the "MINDS OF BOYS AND GIRLS."
Saturday, January 20, 2018 from 9-3 p.m. Hosted by Cornerstone Church in Chandler, Arizona.
Dr. Michael Gurian, will keynote this event on the topic of boys and girls and how to engage them in the classroom as well as at home.
With over 40 years of combined experience in school settings, Gurian Certified Trainer, Shawn Hardnett and Executive Director, Katey McPherson, will share a practitioners' view of engaging girls and boys in the everchanging world, including their lives using social media and the impact of screen time on their developing brains.
Breakout sessions will center around the social and emotional needs of our children and how parents and educators can best support them
in their journey through childhood and adolescence.
The mental health of our children is becoming increasingly fragile. Wherever we look, we see immense loneliness and confusion in teen communities. In the Phoenix area in the last month, for instance, there have been 9 suicides of children from ages 13 to 18. Nationwide, there are approximately 22 suicides per day, many of them teens. Many other teens do not turn death on themselves but on others as rates of teen violence correlate with declines in teen mental health. Dr. Gurian recently wrote, "Many of us believe teen mental health issues are becoming epidemic. From neurotoxins affecting the teen brain to the effects of trauma and social media, we are raising a generation of teens at risk of brain development issues."
The Gurian Institute is honored to be a part of both prevention and healing efforts. As we are asked to provide Summits and training to help schools and communities focus on SEL (Social Emotional Learning), we help teachers, administrators, parents and community members use a science-based approach to nurturing young minds, especially our most fragile. Communities and schools feel a visceral need to understand why--behind teen suicide and violence rates--rates of anxiety and depression are steadily climbing. New estimates put these rates at more than one third of Americans. We can absolutely come together to understand, prevent, and heal.
A recent Summit on Suicide Prevention in Tempe, Arizona, co-sponsored by the Gurian Institute, provides an example of positive social change. At this event, community stakeholders heard from Troy Kemp, Executive Director of the National Center for the Development of Boys, Katey McPherson, Executive Director of the Gurian Institute, and Dr. Max McGee, retired Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent. Each provided science-based information and systemic change models for prevention and healing to help this Tempe community, where a cluster of teen suicides occurred.
Suicide Prevention, we believe, should be a conversation in every school and district because teen suicide has no candidate, and it does not discriminate zip codes. Boys are 3 - 4 times more likely to die by suicide than girls, while girls are 3 - 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than boys. As it is with every social and community issue, nature, nurture, and culture all play a part, and deep understanding the female and male brain provides answers, and solutions.
Our Gurian community will continue to examine these issues in our SEL and gender initiatives. The pictures attached to this blog show some of the ways we can all work in this area. We hope you will join us in any way you can, from helping to fund Suicide Prevention Summits to bringing training on SEL and the teen brain to your schools. As you look at these possibilities, please stay vigilant with your own children and students.
Listen to their needs.
Identify their strengths.
Capitalize on the quiet moments to connect.
Our children need all of us now more than ever.
--Katey McPherson, Executive Director, the Gurian Institute
Last week, Dr. Jim Weber and I visited classrooms at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, Texas. Central Catholic, a school for boys in the Marianist tradition, is more than 150 years old and deeply committed to raising boys into men of service. In the last decade, GI has been honored to partner with the school as CC became a Gurian Institute Model School six years ago and Center for Excellence in Educating Boys and Girls two years ago.
We cannot be more impressed with the powerful work being done there. It shows in the community, among staff and administrators, among the parent body, and among the students themselves. Visiting thirteen classrooms and also meeting with students, administrators, and faculty, Dr. Weber and I saw first-hand the power of strategic and systemic boy-friendly education.
As President of Marianist University, Paul Garro, told me, “Our identity as a school is linked to our Marianist roots, single gender education, and best practices for boys and their families. We are devoted to this cause.” This devotion shows in classrooms, offices, hallways, the gym and grounds, data and test scores, and very importantly, buy-in among parents and kids.
Principal of the school, Eddie Ybarra, who initially contacted GI seven years ago, told me, “I believe we have the ‘secret sauce’--a single gender education. For this kind of education to work, as you know, we did a deep dive into brain-friendly teacher development, which has led to our teachers—who were already very instinctive in understanding boys--taking that understanding to the next level.”
GI Master Trainer and Indiana educator, Dr. Jim Weber, who provided classroom observations with me, agreed. “The most impressive thing here is the combination of the commitment to educating boys as boys and the buy-in to theory and practical strategies that really work.”
Jim and I met with five seniors to interview them on their experiences at Central Catholic over the last four years. All of them agreed that “something really good has been happening here since we were freshmen.” One of them said, “The teachers and staff let us move around more, learn in our own ways, and don’t stress as much now about how we learn. We’re definitely learning better.”
We saw these innovations throughout the classrooms. In Velma Uriegas’ English class, for instance, the boys debated different parts of The Scarlet Letter in a motivating competition format that inculcated the book’s subtle ideas into their minds.
In Mr. Nelson’s World Government class, the boys led one another in brain breaks that gently and powerfully compelled each boy, even the shy ones, to move from follower to leader and back again.
In Mrs. Winston’s Geometry class, the boys created visual objects and spatial systems on the walls and ceiling that impressed geometric principles into the brain kinesthetically: moving book learning to deeper learning.
In Mr. Cassler’s English class, the boys augmented “book reports” with visual art and symbolic graphic essays about The Lord of the Flies.
In a national landscape in which there seems to be a battle between coeducation and single gender education, Central Catholic shows me two things.
First: good education can happen in any setting, whether coed, single gender, or any other. When the learning minds of boys and girls are deeply understood, teachers innovate on behalf of their students. Central Catholic has been committed since its inception to understanding the learning minds of boys, and that commitment—that devotion—has positively affected thousands of lives.
Second, the single gender option can be an impressive one, especially when teachers are trained in how to teach to the minds of boys and girls. Our present cultural conversation is polarized around single gender classrooms, with some people arguing that single gender classrooms will harm children—only coed classrooms are healthy, they say.
Schools like Central Catholic answer ideology with success. This school has become a sought-after and go-to educational environment in San Antonio with families coming from elsewhere in the state as well, because it pushed through the political polarization and stuck with its roots. As it did so, it effected systemic change in Catholic education itself, taking the risk of moving ancient and traditional forms of education forward into science-based strategies in the new millennium.
In every school there is always work still to be done. In Central Catholic, no doubt, there will always be constant improvement in targeted areas, and no one at the school pretends perfection. But I do hope you will check this school out whether remotely or, when you are in San Antonio, on site. Principal Ybarra’s reference to a “secret sauce” is an apt one. It is a secret sauce every school can use when the minds of boys and girls are completely understood, and systemic change in pedagogy and teacher effectiveness then occurs.
As we all know from our decades in educational settings: student engagement is crucial. When students want to come to school, want to learn, want to put their cell phones down and pay attention, we have done something truly great not just for them but for everyone they will later touch as they become adults of service.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We are fully entering the digital age(!) and proud to offer a Membership subscription service to educators, parents, mentors, and others who work with boys and girls. All of us at GI believe we are at a time when brain science can help us revolutionize how we teach, raise, and mentor our children. I love speaking in your communities, schools, and conferences, and I love our email and social media contact--in fact, they have inspired me to provide this subscription service, one allowing me and our team to further communicate with you digitally.
I'm very excited about this and hope you will be too. For a look at free content already loaded onto the site, click www.michaelgurian.com/membership/. This will lead you to the Patreon.com page where the service is housed. You'll sign up there (it just takes a moment) then go to the "Michael Gurian" site. If you see usefulness in the kind of content already set up for free on that site, please do sign up for much more.
WATCH THIS VIDEO INVITATION TO THE NEW GURIAN OFFER
There are two tiers for membership in this service.
The First Tier ($10.00 per month)
I will provide you with video clips twice a month that you can easily download to your I Device, Smartphone, or computer. In these videos, I will explore themes and strategies important to educators, parents, and mentors of boys and girls.
I will also provide you with two podcasts per month on topics of importance, starting with issues and strategies regarding educating and raising boys, then issues and strategies regarding educating and raising girls.
You will continue to receive our Gurian Institute newsletters and blogs.
You will be able to interact with other Gurian Community members via a “Community” link on our host site.
The Second Tier ($20.00 per month)
You will receive everything listed in Tier 1.
You will also receive monthly Subscriber Only blogs and other material.
Via email, I will distribute to you some of my PPT slides for use in your professional development or other community talks and meetings.
You can ask me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. My team and I will provide answers to you privately, if you wish, and/or for the whole group, whichever you prefer.
You will receive Learning and Growth Tools from me that will help you individualize the newest science for yourself, your family, and your school.
Please learn more on www.michaelgurian.com/membership/ and sign Up Via https://www.patreon.com/user?u=7827875.
Thank you for joining our professional and personal learning community!
Ever misplace your phone, forget someone’s name, or struggle to find the right words?
Of course, you have. It happens to all of us.
But if you find it happening more and more it may predict trouble, especially if your memory is worse than it was 10 years ago.
People who complain about memory loss have an 80% chance it will get worse unless they do something about it!
That’s why this book is so important and I had to share it with you. It’s written by my dear friend and colleague, Daniel Amen, MD, whose brain imaging work has revolutionized how we can improve memory and prevent future problems.
Memory loss threatens everything about who you are, including your independence, but you can do something about it. Contrary to popular belief, memory loss is NOT normal or inevitable.
There is a better way.
Dr. Amen, a #1 New York Times bestselling author and brain researcher, reveals it all in his new book Memory Rescue, available Tuesday, November 14th. He’ll show you powerful tools and strategies to improve your memory and even rescue it if you think it’s headed for trouble.
This book is based on one simple idea: To strengthen your memory or get it back, you have to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that destroy your brain. The good news is that almost all of them are either preventable or treatable.
Based on leading research and the most advanced technology, Dr. Amen has created a proven program to help you change your brain and improve your memory today so you can live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
This book is an absolute must-read for anyone whose life has been impacted by memory problems. There is hope. You can control how fast your brain ages. Now is the only time to see how your lifestyle is affecting your brain and memory.
Give yourself the gift of a stronger memory and remember what matters most to you.
Plus, if you pre-order the book before November 14th, you get these free gifts.
Dr. Michael Gurian
Pre-order Your Copy Today
As I was writing Saving Our Sons (February 2017) and just recently, as I am completing The Minds of Girls (January 2018), I’ve been receiving more and more emails about a topic I bring up wherever I travel: environmental neurotoxins. These neurotoxins affect children’s physical and mental health at cellular levels but we can’t see them—they are hidden neuro-stressors and can be very dangerous.
At a speaking engagement in the Midwest I shared a story of two of my counseling clients who took their children off plastics, went organic, and removed gluten from their family diet. Of their five children, two were having issues with depression and obesity. After their family changes, they saw positive results: weight loss and greater health for their daughter who had become obese, and a tapering of depression for the son they had become very worried about. After I told this story a couple came up to me and shared their similar story. Their daughter had become anxious and depressed at 9. Among the reasons for it, they had been told, could be a combination of adolescent onset hormonal biology and endocrine stress on that biology via neurotoxins. They removed plastics and went organic and saw a significant lessening of anxiety in their daughter.
Drastic family change like going organic may not be needed for every family, but if you have children in distress, and if you see no clear cause of the depression, anxiety, obesity, or other difficulty, I hope you will look closely at the neurotoxin research.
Philippe Grandjean is the co-author of Only One Chance: How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development – and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation. He told the Huffington Post, “The world is facing a ‘silent pandemic’ of ‘chemical brain drain’. We have an ethical duty to protect the next generation, in particular--the next generation’s brains.”
Grandjean and study co-author Philip Landrigan note that since 2006, when they first published their results, things are getting even worse. The list of “confirmed developmental neurotoxins doubled in ten years.” At the top of the list of culprits: the plychlorinate biphenyla and bisphenol A in plastic and endocrine disrupting chemicals in fertilizer and food. These endocrine disrupting chemicals disrupt a child’s endocrine systems, the systems on which much of our children’s cellular and brain growth depends. The systems have cellular switches that need to be turned on and off for normal and healthy growth. As the endocrine disrupting chemicals in plastics and food attach to specific receptors in a child’s body and brain, they initiate a complex chain of events that impede correct cellular development and function. The endocrine disruptors keep many of our children’s neural switches off when they should be on and on when they should be off.
Think of each hormone inside each child’s cell as an artist at work – a sculptor who chisels at a blob of rock to create a Rodin statue. Natural gene expression, excited and assisted in a natural environment, is that chiseling, that sculpting, that art. Endocrine disruptors interfere with the artistic process because the disrupter can erase a natural function in some moments and in other moments, alter an action of cells completely. As the disruptor attaches to its unique receptor, it launches a different set of events in body and brain than what was naturally intended for this child. We don’t end up with Rodin’s The Thinker – we end up with a cellular statue without an arm, knee, feet, hands, eyes, or other essential parts of the body.
And the disruptors and toxins don’t just attack your child – they attacked you and your reproductive partner before your child was born, affecting sperm motility in dad and reproductive cells in mom’s ovaries. Many brain disorders such as autism, anorexia/bulimia, ADD/ADHD, obesity, depression, and anxiety, are linked back to these neurotoxin/sperm and egg issues. My wife, Gail and I, as well as many of our counseling clients, have gone organic during our children’s upbringings. It was not easy (nor inexpensive), but we put this kind of protection very high on our list because we were immersed in the research.
I hope you will consider doing this, too. Environmental neurotoxins, especially in the U.S., have become such a severe detriment to our children’s health scientist David Geary, author of Evolution of Sex Differences in Trait- and Age-Specific Vulnerabilities (2016), added “man-made toxins” to his list of major causative factors in human distress. Geary called previously studied “natural stressors” (disease, famine, war, and death) “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” The fifth apocalyptic horsemen in our genes is environmental neurotoxicity.
Here is a short list of “fifth horsemen” to look for and remove, as much as possible, from your children’s lives.
*Poisons in pesticides and fertilizer like chlorpyrifos that directly impede fetal and infant brain development. Stay away from this stuff if you are pregnant, planning to have children, or have children around you.
*Endocrine disruptors mentioned earlier—they appear not just in food and beverages but in lotions, too.
*Chemicals in medications like acetaminophen taken by mothers during pregnancy that can create mutations in the fetus and lead to later behavioral and cognitive problems in the child (this research was published in 2016 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, if you want to check it out).
*BPA (Bisphenol-A) and Phthalates in plastics, noted earlier, that can poison your children, especially when your children drink from plastic bottles that have become hot (the chemicals “leak” into the beverage from the heated bottle).
*Sugar itself which can be a poison to our cells if eaten in excess (a powerful book on this subject is The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes in 2017).
*Even products that we may want our adolescents to use such as birth control pills can affect some genetic structures with depressive symptoms. A study published in 2016 that tracked more than one million women between 15 and 35 on hormonal birth control found a 40% increased risk of depression. Birth control is generally a good thing, but it is also crucial to study all options.
*Allergies and intolerances to normal foods (e.g. wheat, dairy, yeast, tomatoes, etc.).
Parents, teachers, grandparents, and all of us in the grass roots must take up the cause of protection against environmental neurotoxins in our own homes, schools, and community environments. This fifth horseman is no joke. Though unseen most of the time, this stressor may be more dangerous than we can ever fully realize. The family I mentioned earlier is just one of many—if you have a child in distress, I hope you’ll get Saving Our Sons or The Minds of Girls or find other resources that will help you delve deeply into this brain-danger that we all, unfortunately, have in common in our everyday lives.
Blog by Dr. Michael Gurian
Is Children’s Mental Health a School Issue or a Parent Issue?
We’ve been alerting our readers to issues in suicide prevention this last few weeks, and I want to follow up with a plea for community partnership on the issue of children’s mental health.
The newest national estimate for mental health medication-use among children sits between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5. It is likely, though, that more children use these medications. Also likely: more than 20% of American children struggle with depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, substance abuse, and other mental health issues. As suicide rates among our youth increase—for both boys and girls—our schools and families are challenged with a growing crisis. Your child or your neighbor’s child may be struggling.
When I travel and speak in communities, I hear the crisis framed as a “school” issue or a “parent/family” issue. Because federal, state, and local governments have limited funds to devote to suicide prevention, mental health counselor training in the schools, and teacher/administrator training in student mental health, many students fall through the cracks. While IDEA and IEP funding can help, it is just not enough.
In some school districts, suicide prevention programming of four hours is provided to students in 10th grade yet the district is seeing suicides in 8th grade. The lack of funding and training puts schools in a bad position as community members get angry at the schools for not doing enough.
On the other hand, school systems are acutely aware that a child’s home-life and lack of parent-knowledge about the signs of mental health crisis play an equal or larger role in the crisis. As parents, we adore our children. We will sacrifice anything for them. But we are not sure what they need nor how to help them get assistance, services, or medicine. We are also desperately unsure of what limits to put on their social media use, eating and sleeping habits, and relational dramas.
In the article of the week from Medline here (September 18, 2017), you’ll see survey-results from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan that show the dilemma we all face. The survey reveals that most parents do not believe schools can respond well enough to their child’s mental health issues. Parents believe that school nurses and other medical staff can do well with cuts and band aids—physiologic fixes—but not mental health. Meanwhile, school systems are saying, “We don’t have the funding, we need help from legislatures and parents.” And the schools are right.
In Saving Our Sons (2017) you’ll find a detailed section on negligence of mental health assistance for boys, parents, and schools, as well as what we can all do to deal with the mental health crisis among our sons.
In The Minds of Girls (January 2018), I will present similar research and strategies to help with the significant increase in anxiety and depression among our daughters.
One strategy that works for all children is parent/school/legislative partnership.
Whoever you are, I plead with you to meet with three other people right away to raise awareness of the issue, then meet with three others and three others. This really can happen! If you have had a suicide in your school district, it can be the impetus for you to meet in living rooms, classrooms, and elsewhere to form a plan. This plan—perhaps a petition, or an email campaign, or Town Hall meetings about social emotional learning and children’s mental health--will help legislatures, community members, and school systems all get on the same page.
We must remember (and point out to lawmakers and funding organizations): mental health issues are far more debilitating to school budgets, grades, test scores, discipline systems, and every other marker of success than are physical cuts and scrapes, scuffles and disagreements, and even physical bullying.
What is happening in the brain is far more indicative of a child’s future success than most of what is happening in the body.
The Gurian Institute is actively involved in facilitating this conversation in any community that wants to move forward. Please contact us as you need us, and please do anything you can to help spark community-wide protection of your children’s mental health.
As we honor the passing of the 16th anniversary of one of the deadliest days in the history of the United States of America, we remember the helpers. Those who gave and sacrificed their lives, their time, and their families to aid in the rescue and recovery of others. We are eternally grateful.
In tandem, we honor this week of suicide prevention week as we connect the work of The Gurian Institute to the nurturance and resources that align with the developing brain. In several states, suicide is the leading cause of death ages 10-14.
The Gurian Institute will host over 300 teachers,administrators, and community members in Arizona. 10 school districts who serve over 175,000 students in the Phoenix metro area will be represented.
An evening of learning, a community Town Hall, will showcase the principles and tenets of providing students constructs inside and outside of the classroom that allow them to flourish and grow as they develop their core self.
Dr. Max McGee of the Palo Alto Unified School District will keynote our Town Hall.
Gurian certified trainers Travis Webb, Katey McPherson, and Troy Kemp will speak on the topics of attachment and attunement, teen brain and the impact of social media, and male identity development. Specific and practical strategies for providing supports for helping both boys and girls thrive will be presented.
Kids are trained to look for the helpers. As they do, it is crucial that we provide them with proven evidence-based strategies and that teachers are trained in markers of distress.
Join us at our next Gurian Institute in January to learn more, or call us to schedule a training for your faculty.
Together we can make a difference in the lives of our youth.
Connection to care.
Programming that is ongoing and pervasive throughout the formative years.
Boots on the ground.
The time is now.
It doesn't matter where I am working--from Houston to Nashville, San Antonio to Bel-Air, Bloomfield Hills to Chandler--everyone is wondering the same things.
"How do I get my kids off their devices?"
“Why would she say something like that online?"
"Why is she posting 34 duck faced selfies?"
"Why does he act so poorly after playing his video games?"
Twelve years ago, when smartphones rolled out, I set out to understand what the rage was, what was the draw, and how to manage it all. As a teacher and school administrator, I needed to understand all the technologies to remain relevant and current. As my own children grow up, my passion for research on digital technology only increases.
Now, as I travel the country to speak on this topic and host trainings in my local Arizona communities, digital research is growing, especially from a brain-based viewpoint, and none too soon as kids head back to school this month and next. Now is a great time for parents and educators to reset, reboot, and realign expectations. In our Gurian Institute trainings, we provide educators and parents with simple and actionable steps. Here are a few nuggets that can move the needle in your quest to help your children safely use digital technologies this year.
Be in the Know
If it is on their device, it should be on yours You can use mechanisms like Family Share Approval from your carrier to approve app downloads and purchases as well as allow each child their own Apple ID and password so you can monitor their every move. Without these mechanisms, there is no way to truly know what kids are doing online and within the apps and messaging services.
Simple apps like OurPact, Circle By Disney, and ScreenTime allow you to monitor and filter content and restrict by the hour which child can access what.
Websites like safesmartsocial.com and Commonsensemedia.org allow you to keep up with the latest and greatest apps.
You can also easily turn off your kids’ online access and router to your home remotely--for instance, from your date night at a restaurant.
Talk Weekly with your Children about Their Social Media Platforms
Have a “tech talk Tuesday dinner” where everyone shares something brave, kind, crazy, disrespectful from their news feeds. This allows you and your family to discuss your family’s values and guiding principles. When the use of a platform or technology does not align with your family’s guiding principles, changes can be made.
Raising digi-kids is not for the faint of heart. It starts with adults teaching and modeling good digital behavior. This may mean you must unplug, too, during dinner and on other occasions so that family time remains sacred.
Central Charging Station
Unplug your family and children at a reasonable hour.
Research shows our children are often not getting good sleep due to their cumulative time on devices. Many kids sleep with devices under their pillow. This addiction to a blue light device has drastic consequences on their brain development, mood regulation and cognitive ability the next day.
The central charging station should notbe in a child’s bedroom. If it is in yours, it should be away from your head. Phones and devices should be in the OFF position.
Good sleep=healthy kids.
Control the Controllable
As children meander the uncharted waters of tween and teen-hood, parents are forced to monitor and supervise social media platforms andtake control of gaming. It is rarely a good thing for a child’s brain to play an hour of video games on a school night. You can control video game use because you own everything in the home.
You can also control when to give a child a phone. At the Gurian Institute, we suggest 13 or 14 as the appropriate age for a smart phone. Bill Gates gave his children their phones at 14. These ages are better for cell phone use than any earlier period.
Remember, underdeveloped brains are double agents: they can pretend to be okay when they are really in distress, so above all else, be vigilant. The attached article is one family's story of how easy it was to miss the mark.
If you would like to host or sponsor a morning coffee-and-learn or evening parent night on digital life, please contact us. Together we can make a difference.
By Katey McPherson