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Religion in the Workplace

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Submitted By brittnie1
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Teaching and Learning Issues with a Cognitive Context
Vansago Holt
ESE 370: Dr Andrea Felch
September 28, 2014
Ashford University

Teaching and learning Issues
It is clearly documented that when it comes to learning the brain plays the most important role. Yes there are other important factors to consider also but they all lead back to the brain. “The brain has been compared to a telephone switchboard” (Jensen, 2008, pg 2), this just goes to show that every action performed is linked to the brain. If every action has something to do with the brain then it is safe to say that every malfunction also is connected to the brain. This malfunction may be anything from a chemical imbalance to the environment that we live in.
Considering that there are so many factors that play a role in how our brain works numerous studies have been done to try to provide a balance to enable learning to take place. From these studies strategies can be put in place to aid or assist those with issues that would prevent or not enable them to be successful learners. Two groups that I will try to cover are those that come from a background of poverty, homelessness, hunger and those with autism/ADHD. The grade level that I will focus on is K-5. Reason is to me this is the best time to stat helping by using strategies and teaching coping skills.
Poverty, Homelessness and Hunger
Sad as it may seem with all the help out there poverty, homelessness and hunger is still a major cause for concern in our society. These three things play a major role when it comes to learning and cognitive development.
Poverty is being poor to the point of not having enough money to take care of everyday basic needs like food, housing and clothing. It is very clear how poverty leads to homelessness and hunger. Homelessness is when one has no permanent safe place to call home. This makes it really hard to provide for a family. Hunger is when one cannot afford to meet nutritional standards because they do not have sufficient food to eat. To me it is clear that if you have one of the three more than likely you will eventually have all three. The dynamics between these three things can last for generations. These issues become a problem because they have poor physical and mental health along with missed educational opportunities. Educational opportunities are missed because of the interruptions in living arrangements. They are also likely to experience problems from depression, anxiety and withdrawal just to list a few.
What we are seeing is that hungry children lead to very poor immune systems which leaves them open for diseases. Having enough food to eat is essential to optimal development and functions of the brain. Poor nutrition influences health and well being throughout the life cycle (Cook, Frank, 08). Hunger often times lead to malnutrition over time if the problem is not fixed. Quantity does not fix the problem if the food is not quality food meeting the nutritious requirements of the child. The right foods are more expensive.
Some of the major things that are seen in these children are physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. Many kids are going to have issues focusing when they are in an academic setting because they are hungry. They will have no energy which leads to a lack of motivation. These kids tend to fall behind in grade levels because of all issue that comes from being homeless, hungry and poor. They may have ongoing health problems that will keep them out of school.
However, once a child is identified as being at risk their growth and development can be helped by a caring teacher. Once a caring relationship is formed between the teacher and student the teacher is better able to notice early warning signs. Teachers must be able to understand and deal with the many problems that will come to the classroom with these kids.
One of the biggest problems to me when a child comes from such a background is stress. Some stress is good but not in this case. Researcher have found that chronic, sustained stress, such as that caused by neglect, hunger, homelessness and poverty elevates stress hormones in the brain and weakens the neural foundation of executive function skills in early childhood (Sparks 2013). This is a bad stress one that does not allow for the child to be motivated in a learning environment. “High levels of stress can cause the death of brain cells in the hippocampus” (Jensen, 2008, pg 44). This is turn will impairs learning and mood. The fact that a threat was detected in the form of stress forces the brain to act. When this happens there will be some kind of chemical imbalance. More than likely the thinking process here will be affected.
It is believed that if you change the experience the brain can be changed also. This I assumes take a lot of dedication and time. A young brain that is persistently stressed can develop permanent damage (Hewett, 2009). This is all from situations that young children are unable to control which if not helped will lead to troubled lives. The facts show that if nothing is done we will have a future society riddled with problems. Educators and policy makers have turned to scientist for ways to solve this dilemma or at least make it more bearable for these kids. Now educators are putting an emphasis on school readiness. They are even providing free breakfast in some school districts as this helps with enhancing cognitive functions in the form of short term memory.
The cognitive growth of these kids can also be impeded by the environment such as leaky roofs, insufficient lighting and overcrowding (Jensen, 2008). Considering that all brains are different and the areas of the brain for working memory, impulse regulation, language, cognitive capacity and conflict are linked to poverty. There are things that these kids will not get at home so the classroom will have to provide them like developing strategies to block issues that prevent learning
Teaching and Learning
The teacher must try to understand why a child is homeless. There are a variety of reasons i.e. parents losing their jobs. When teachers are aware they are better able to understand the child’s emotional state and social abilities. The school can also help to provide supplies for the poor when they cannot afford to do so themselves. Often times local charities will donate at least the basic supplies. The learning environment should be supportive with a firm daily schedule.
The child should be encouraged to participate in school activities so they can feel more like a student and work on their social skills. Many schools have developed programs where they teach with poverty in mind. There are mentoring programs because when students have support they do better overall. Nutrition is important to the learner. Schools are providing nutritious meals for learners. However some school districts get help to prepare meals rich in protein for these kids as protein is needed for dopamine which plays a huge role in quick thinking, fast reactions and help to increase conscious awareness (Jensen, 2008).
One of the most effective ways to influence the learning process is through the students directly observing the teacher. The positive can do attitude of the teacher is contagious to the students.
Autism/ADHD
Autism is describes as a neural development disorder with restricted or repetitive behavior and impaired social interactions. It is also known as spectrum disorder because of the different variations associated with it. It is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It affects the functioning of the brain because it is a neurological disorder. There is currently no cure for autism however if properly managed they can function due to reduction in undesirable behaviors.
Some of the symptoms of autism are: 1. Kids do not interact well with others. 2. Lack basic communication skills. 3. Shows repetitive behaviors. 4. Normally is preoccupied with moving objects. 5. Shows signs of being ritualistic. 6. Must have routines. 7. Simple abhors noise.
Each child may not experience the exact same symptoms. Autism can now be identified in a child before the age of two. With the aid of specialized educational programs autism can be treated. These programs focus on developing social skills, speech, language, self-care and job skills. There are also behavioral programs that address social skills, motor skills, and cognitive skills. ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is when a child has extreme difficulty focusing paying attention and controlling their behavior. These kids often have social and emotional development issues. Presently three types of symptoms are identified for ADHD: 1. Hyperactivity/Impulsivity- they fidget a lot also has difficulties playing or doing other leisurely things quietly. 2. Inattention- they fail to pay attention to tasks at hand and appear as if they are not directly listening. 3. Combined – the child displays symptoms from both categories.
The biggest problem arising from autism when it comes to learning is language; kids with autism just have a hard time communication which makes learning a challenge. Kids with autism need structure when it comes to learning. They have to be taught language skills on a different level.
These issues are a cause for concern because the kids are disruptive in the classroom. They also make learning hard for other kids in the same classroom. The teacher has to focus too much attention on these kids when they are not the only ones in the class that needs attention.
Kids with ADHD are disruptive in classrooms because they generally have issues with following rules and to complete required tasks. Due to the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity the daily school life is challenging. They have difficulty with attention which means they will miss important information and details of assignment. One of the problems with ADHD is that it is often times linked to other issues like learning disability, depression, anxiety or difficulty with hearing and speech.
Based on everything I have researched autism and ADHD share about 50-72% of their genetic factors which explains why they normally occur in the same families (Van Steijn, Richards, Oerlemans, DeRuiter, VanAken, Franke and Rommelse 2012). Each child develops differently and the development of kids with ADHD and autism usually delayed somewhat. They just have a different growth pattern than that kids who do not have either of these traits. The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a vital role in controlling the growth hormones (Winkler, 2008). They are usually what are considered late bloomers at least a year or two behind peers. Still a very low percentage will be smaller than what is considered normal.
One thing is clear ADHD and autism is not one size fits all when it comes to cognitive development. For cognitive development the brain needs neurotransmitters that support and govern development. This is needed to create the right environment. When there is a deficiency of amino acids which is a building block of protein there are signs of developmental disorders associated with autism and ADHD.
Dopamine also plays a role in the cognitive development of kids with autism and ADHD. Dopamine is responsible for regulating things like motivation, fundamental brain function, attention and focus, and emotional response. When there is an overload of dopamine there is an overload on the brains ability to process due to increase sensory perception. When there is not enough dopamine then there are attention and focal issues ( Brain Chemicals , 2013).
Teaching and Learning
There are several factors to consider when it comes to teaching a child with autism and ADHD. It is not just about academic skills, things like communication; increased attention span, social skills and how to learn with their symptoms are key factors for teaching. One of the tried and proven methods of teaching is PRT (Pivotal Response Training). One of the principles behind this is the domino effect. The goal is to get kids motivated so that communication and social interaction can be motivated. The learning environment must be a warn and safe place in which learners can reach personal goals (Jensen 2008) Autistic children however possess the ability to learn they just do not perform well in typical classrooms. Normally lessons plans are developed around their specific needs specifically for the individual student.
The classroom must be highly structured because of the problems related to distractibility so the students can be set up for success from the beginning. Strategy wise a teacher has to be flexible and understand that they will be using different techniques because all the kids do not learn the same way. Activities should include high and low energy projects with effective management techniques. There should be interesting connection to real life that is meaningful to the student. Reading and writing assignments can be subdivided into smaller lesson on the lesson plan and also modify the lessons.
Conclusion
Considering that our brain is our greatest asset it is a good thing that it constantly rewires itself making it moldable. All the activities that we do consciously or unconsciously are controlled by the brain. There are so many stressors for kids that are homeless, hungry and poverty stricken. Stressors like the neighborhood they live in, will there be enough to eat once they get home, will they have running water and will the electricity be on.
For the kids with autism and ADHD they have their own sets of problems. Some of their problems are hyperactivity and inattention just to list a few. It is then no wonder these kids have such a hard time in school

References
Sparks, S.D. (2013). Skills Promoted to Aid Learning Amid Adversity, Education Week, 32(19), 1.
Hewitt, S. (2009). Homelessness Hurts Young Brains, Columbian, The (Vancouver, WA.)
Ziats, M. K. (2014). Functional genomics studies of human brain development and implications for autism spectrum disorder.
Van Steijn, D. J., Richards, J.S., Oerlemans, A. M., De Ruiter, S. W., Van Aken, M. G., Franke, B., & Rommelse, N. J. (2012). The co-occurrence of autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in parents of children with ASD with ADHD, Journal Of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 53(9), 954-963.doi:10.1111/j. 1469-7610.2012.02556x
Winkler, M., (2008) Human Growth and Development in ADHD Children. Retrieved 28 September, 2014, from http://web4health.info/en/answers/adhd-stim-growth.htmreat
Treat Autism, (2013) brain Chemicals, Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://treatautism.ca/brain-chemicals/
Cook, J.T., Frank, D. A., ( ), Food Security, Poverty and Human Development in the United States. Retrieved September 28, 2014 from http://www.childrenshealthwatch.org/upload/resource/cook_frank_annals_08.pdf//web4health.info/en/answers/adhd-stim-growth.htm

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