Building A Better Brain

Where did the 'Stimulation Theory' of child development come from? Why were scientists so preoccupied with 'building a better brain'? Join Dr. Shanker as he gives the Self-Reg perspective on this issue and how it has affected early childhood education and parenting advice over the last 3 decades.
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Why register for this webinar?

In this webinar, Dr. Shanker reflects on his experience working with ECE organizations around the world twenty years ago. Everywhere he went, the emphasis was on “stimulating the child”: e.g., with colourful posters and up-tempo music. It was clear that some of the children were benefitting from this sensory influx, and equally clear that a good many were not.

Dr. Shanker looks at where the “stimulation theory” came from: namely, neuroscience and randomized control studies looking to counteract the effects of “under-stimulation” in children from low-income families. The more scientists analyzed this data, however, the more they began to realize that there was a very different factor at play: namely, the impact of excessive stress. And that, we were soon to learn, was a universal phenomenon.
The deeper question here is: Why were scientists, educators, and parents all so preoccupied with “building a better brain”? That is a question that highlights the reason why the paradigm-revolution in which Self-Reg is based is so important.

Topics include:
  • The animal research origins of the Enriched Environments (EE) theory
  • The commercial impact of the EE paradigm 
  • The impact of EE on ECEs and parenting advice
  • Reframing the significance of the “stimulation” research
  • And finally, the relevance of this issue for the universal pre-K programs being considered today in both Canada and the US
Meet the instructor

Dr. Stuart Shanker

Stuart Shanker is the author of the Self-Reg trilogy: Calm, Alert, and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (Pearson 2012), Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life (Penguin 2016), Reframed: Self-Reg for a Just Society (UofT Press 2020); and with Susan Hopkins, Self-Reg Schools: A Handbook for Educators (Pearson 2019). In 2012, Stuart founded The MEHRIT Centre as a Self-Reg learning and information centre for parents, educators, the leaders of today, and the leaders of tomorrow.
Patrick Jones - Course author
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