Sep 29, 2009
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Excellent article in the New York Times on learning, self-regulation and executive fuunctions:
– “Over the last few years, a new buzz phrase has emerged among scholars and scientists who study early-childhood development, a phrase that sounds more as if it belongs in the boardroom than the classroom: executive function. Originally a neuroscience term, it refers to the ability to think straight: to order your thoughts, to process information in a coherent way, to hold relevant details in your short-term memory, to avoid distractions and mental traps and focus on the task in front of you. And recently, cognitive psychologists have come to believe that executive function, and specifically the skill of self-regulation, might hold the answers to some of the most vexing questions in education today.”
– “The ability of young children to control their emotional and cognitive impulses, it turns out, is a remarkably strong indicator of both short-term and long-term success, academic and otherwise.”
A truly excellent article, highly recommended reading. The only aspect lacking is the absence of coverage/ analysis of training-based alternatives to developing self-regulation, such as meditation and computerized cognitive training, which can help address some of the issues raised in the article (limited scalability, difficulty in isolating influential variables). We covered this in-depth in our book interview with Michael Posner.