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A Rationale for Teaching Students About the Brain and Mind

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The Mind Project: A curriculum for High School Students


The Mind Project is an innovative set of interactive educational programs that help teens find meaning, learn, flourish and grow. The Mind Project uses the study of cutting edge science to help teens learn about their own minds, build tools that improve their own psychological and emotional well-being, and ponder the mystery of human consciousness.

The most unaccountable of machinery

"My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery-- always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What's this passion for?"

Virginia Woolf


The felt experience of our own mind is the most basic truth of our existence. We wake up to our groggy mind in the morning. We use our mind to will ourselves out of bed and into the shower. Our mind experiences the hot water on our skin and the shampoo in our hair. Then, our mind sets about thinking great and not so great thoughts, pausing perhaps to cause us to sing a snippet of a song that magically popped into our mind. While we soap up, our mind worries about the day to come and then worries about the day that was. Our mind convinces us to turn off the water and get to work or school, where it will spend the day planning, problem solving, playing games, decision-making, communicating philosophizing, strategizing and creating. At the end of our long day we park our weary mind in front of the television to be entertained by images and sounds. And then we go to sleep and our mind proceeds to entertain and sometimes frighten us with a strange image parade of its own.

I think therefore....

Perhaps the strangest thing of all about our mind is that it can ponder itself. From the dawn of civilization the human mind has been captivated by its awareness of itself. "I think, therefore I am" proclaimed Descartes, only to be countered by the flip, but possibly profound retort, "I think, therefore I think I am."

Why are we able to think? Who is running the show? Do we have free will? How do our thoughts relate to reality? How does our mind relate to our body? How does the brain work? What is consciousness? How does consciousness relate to the laws of the universe?

Humans have been pondering these questions from the beginning of recorded history. From Greek plays to Hollywood movies, from Buddhist monks sitting in caves to graduate students lying down in fMRI machines, humanity has been obsessed with this most unaccountable piece of machinery, the human mind.

Science and what we are learning

In the past century the study of the mind has taken a transformational leap. New technology has begun to peer deeper and deeper into the physical workings of the brain and body. We now watch the brain while it sleeps, plays, negotiates, falls in love, struggles with addiction or illness, and experiences God. This research has shown us a tremendous amount about how our mind functions in groups, deals with fear and stress, processes emotion, makes decisions and acts creatively.

The fledgling field of positive psychology has scientifically asked the questions of what makes people flourish, grow, and be happy. The field of Buddhist psychology has combined the wisdom of Eastern philosophy with current research methodology to ask how we can diminish psychological suffering. The brand new field of consciousness studies has tried to explore the nature of consciousness and how it relates to the brain, the body, and the universe.

Yet in education, of all places, the mind has received surprisingly little attention. An increasing amount of programs try to use brain science and psychology to improve children's skills- teaching them how to read, write, problem solve and memorize. Although these programs are valuable, they mostly treat the mind as a tool that can be made more effective.

Science, tools for well being and the search for meaning

The Mind Project is an innovative set of programs about the mind, brain and education. Our program is based on three simultaneous approaches to educating about the mind.

First we intend to teach cutting edge science. The program is rooted in the most fascinating insights the social and physical sciences have given us about our mind and consciousness. We will use science to examine both what we know and what we are still trying to learn. Each module will include insights from various scientific fields-neuroscience, psychology, sociology, evolutionary psychology, biology and others. The purpose is to learn the science and the scientific method, while at the same time giving teens relevant insight into the applications of the science in their own daily lives.

Our second goal is to enhance the well-being of teens by introducing them to ideas and tools suggested by science that will help them deal with anger, attention, stress, relationships, decision making and other difficult areas. Our approach will rely on the growing literature of the Positive Psychology movement.

Our final goal is to help teens actively make meaning of their worlds. Developmental psychologists have noted that humans are "meaning making machines." It is in the struggle to make meaning that we are challenged and grow. The topics covered in the Mind Project are at the core of the mystery of what it means to be human. While our program is grounded in science, we will use art and creativity to help teens integrate what they have learned into their own evolving world views.

Ultimately, we believe teens need more than just tools. Teens hunger to understand their place in the universe. They want to know who they are and what their lives mean. They want to understand how their mind works and ponder why it is that it should work at all. They want to use their own strengths and creativity to make a difference in the world. They want to flourish and grow and be happy.

While no one program can accomplish all of that, the Mind Project seeks to engage teens in a serious dialogue on these profound issues.

4 Intertwined Approaches to Education

The Mind Project will create a host of experiential modules that can be taught independently or combined into a curriculum. Each module will use the following four approaches:

* Science: Science is not just a body of knowledge, it is an approach to asking difficult questions. The Mind Project will teach the scientific method and ask teens to ponder how it can be applied to the subjective experience of the mind. We will use cutting edge neuroscience, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, sociology, anthropology and other fields to give students surprising and exciting insights into their brain and mind and how these relate to the world around them.

Self exploration: When we do, we learn. In no place is this more important than in our understanding of our own mind. We change our minds through experience! Each module will be firmly grounded in experiential exercises and experiments that challenge teens to observe the way their own mind works.

* Group process: The more we understand about the mind the more we know that it does not operate in a vacuum. Humans are intensely social animals. Our experience of the world is shaped in many crucial ways by our social interactions and social groups. The Mind Project will use one-on-one and small group discussions that center on the subjective experience of each individual's mind. In engaging in these discussions, teens will gain perspective on the way that other people's minds work.

Art and Wisdom: Art opens the doors of our perception. Great art points the way to the evolution of our individual and collective consciousness. Art helps us understand new ideas; it opens and changes our minds. The Mind Project will use great art and literature, both contemporary and historical, to expose students to debates and insights human wisdom traditions have had about the nature of the mind.

The modules:

Our program is comprised of interconnected modules that deal with various aspects of our experience of consciousness. Each module will deal with the topic through all four of the lenses listed above. Not all of the modules need to be used, but there are core modules which work well together.


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Sam Flesher's picture

Very cool

Very cool website

I only found out about because you responded to Sterling

Love Aba

Babtunde A Oronti's picture

Survival of the fittest leson





“Over time a society or community of living things will gradually gravitate towards a form of organized setup (beneficial or detrimental) without necessarily having any external output.” Anonymous...




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Limitations (Height, Sight, Body features for example in giraffe, etc)





    1. GENETIC


A genetic disease or disorder is any disease that is caused by an abnormality in an individual's genome. (All of the genetic information, the entire genetic complement, all of the hereditary material possessed by an organism.)


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GGGCTTT Normal sequence


GGCTTTG Abnormal sequence