I Really Wanted One!

Brains were lying around the office, and I wanted one. No, I really wanted one. Alas, they were meant for Ms. Ciara’s grade 6 science students. Not that St. John’s Academy’s grade 6 class needed new brains. Theirs are just fine, thank you very much. These were paper brains to be labelled, coloured, folded like origami, and conceivably worn as hats!  Perhaps these were the new “thinking caps.” I can hear my grade 6 teacher’s voice, “Okay everyone, we need to figure this out, put on your thinking caps.”  Having gotten over my envy, I still had two pressing questions. Why are our students making paper brains? How do I fold this thing?

I decided to go right to the source, Ms. Ciara and her young scientists. This is some of what they told me,

  • Making paper brains was a good way to learn about brains, but I wouldn’t actually wear it. Nobody looks good wearing a brain.”
  • “I learned that our brains control different parts of our bodies.”
  • “I was surprised to learn that there are so many body systems. I thought we had four, but we have eleven!”
  • “I was surprised to learn that the frontal cortex is so big!”
  • “Learning about short-term and long-term memory makes me think about learning math and what I remember and what I forget.”

With continually emerging research about how brains acquire, retain, retrieve, and use new skills and knowledge, this has got to be the most interesting time to be an educator (and parent). Brain and mind research has affirmed a lot of what has become common practice in learner-centred education. Equally, we educators are being inspired to develop new instructional practices and design learning experiences better able to serve the diverse needs and unique interests of our learners. 

For the adults in the community, some exciting news. It was once thought brains stopped growing during adolescence. Current research suggests brains continue to evolve throughout our lives and well into senior years. Though our older brains might not be as fast as our younger brains, they can be more flexible and creative. Yay! (Given my age, I acknowledge my positive bias about this research – see reference below).

If you are interested in exploring more about your brain, or your child(ren)’s, here are a couple of great books, an article, a fascinating online resource, a virtual series of learning sessions, and a couple super videos about mind, brain, and education research.

John is a life long learner, an avid reader, an explorer and enjoys drawing and painting. He is the Head of School for St. John’s Academy.

Dr. John D’Arcy – Head of School


St. John’s Academy is a growing IB (International Baccalaureate) school nestled against Shawnigan Lake on Canada’s Vancouver Island. It intentionally brings together both local and international boarding students so that all of our students have an enriching and academically rigorous experience.



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