Building Better Teen Brains Tip #7

Art Works!

This is Brain Friendly tip #2 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain.

Expressive arts activities. Enjoyable and meaningful arts that engage the nucleus accumbens and dopamine…and activate reward centers..

“…neurobiologically primed to engage in creative and artistic behaviors…the reward centers in their brains, particularly the nucleus accumbens are primed by dopamine and other neurotransmitters to crave new sensations and feelings…novelty seeking.. the under developed neocortex, with its inhibiting influence, …means that adolescents are able to express unconventional thoughts and feelings without as much self-censoring as adults..the arts help adolescents develop the neocortex and establish neural circuits with the emotional brain..” (p. 122)

Armstrong lists 5 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to activate ….:

  1. Incorporate creative writing
  2. Express ideas visually
  3. Let students articulate learning through drama and dance
  4. Integrate video, photography and animation
  5. Use music to enhance learning

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for incorporating the arts into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?