Stress and learning

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Stress and learning

Today's children are under a great deal of stress, especially in the classroom. The teaching to the test, the amount of information that they need to learn by rote memory without getting to do things with it. That's high stress, high stakes. If the child has to memorize a test. There is very little time to explore. The reason I left neurology to become a teacher is because I was beginning to see these kids who, because of the high stress, was doing what the brain does in times of high stress. It goes to the reactive part of the brain, acts out, and does what animals do; fight, flight, freeze. That's what animals do under high stress or boredom or frustration, from too much memorizing, not being engaged. The brains of children go to the same place that animals do, the lower reactive brain. What we see are acting out, zoning out, failing to remember or even to want to go back to school.

Watch Judy Willis, MD, MEd's video on Stress and learning...


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Judy Willis, MD, MEd


After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Judy Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for 15 years before returning to university to obtain her teaching credential and master's of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught in elementary and middle school for 10 years.

Dr. Judy Willis is an authority on brain research and its applications regarding learning. With the unique background as a parent, neurologist, classroom teacher, and neuro-educator she writes extensively for parenting magazines and professional educational journals. Dr. Willis has written six books for parents and educators about applying brain research to parenting and teaching.

Dr. Willis is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Education, University of California and gives presentations to parents and educators nationally and internationally about how to help children learn joyfully and successfully. She is on the Board of Directors of the Hawn Foundation, dedicated to helping children improve academic performance and acquire vital social and emotional skills. In 2011, she was honored by Edutopia, as a “Big Thinker on Education”.

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