November 25, 2009

Cultivating our neuronal networks

"There is really no upper limit on learning since the neurons seem to be capable of growing new connections whenever they are used repeatedly. I think all of us need to develop the capacity to motivate ourselves. One way to do that is to search for meaningful contact points and bridges between what we want to learn and what we already know. When we do so, we cultivate our neuronal networks. [...] To ensure a safe learning environment, you have to make sure to accept all answers, and build on them. We should view students as plants and flowers that need careful cultivation: grow some areas, help reduce others."
~ James Zull, in The Sharp Brains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp, p 17/18


  1. Your reference to viewing students as plants/flowers that need careful cultivation reminds me of Jean-Jacque Rousseau's philosophy of education - the Emile. I agree. Solution-focused change is a vehicle to cultivate/co-create bridges between our good nature (Rousseau language)/strengths (solutions-focused phrashing) and our ideation about some type of change/growth/goal on a micro/mezzo/macro level.

  2. Hi again, I also wanted to add that the reference to "cultivating" made me think of the apparent linkage between the organic nature of solution-focused change and Rousseau's model of education. Both Solution focused change and the Emile use narratives. Both approaches are respectful and dynamic. I just found the connection interesting and wanted to share my thoughts. Unfortunately, I signed off too quickly before without fully expressing this thought. I hope this makes sense.

  3. Hi Greg, Thank, what you say makes sense to me. When I came across the quote I was reminded of the solution-focused approach, too. Specifically two things sprung to mind. One was - a bit similar to what you said- about the idea of a bridge. I remembered that Steve de Shazer had explained SF in terms of building a bridge between success in the past and success in the future. The second thing I remember was a book about SF by Fletcher Peacock titled Water the Flowers not the Weeds.
    Several coaching clients have also made references to the gardening metaphor.
    Thanks for your comment. I did not know specifically about Jean Jacques Rousseau's view on education.


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