The 2nd Wild Ones Salon was held on 17th July 2021.
The Wild Ones Salon is a relaxed conversational space for women & non-binary people of all backgrounds.
The Theme: I Choose to Challenge - Re-imaging Education
We had Fahmeda Naheed join as a special guest. In this podcast you will hear Fahmeda's talk at the Wild Ones Salon.
Fahmeda has been living in Ireland, in Cork, on the North Side, for the last thirteen years. She is a registered teacher with Teaching Council of Ireland as a Subject Specialist for the subject of History in secondary schools.
She explains, "The Challenge is how to apply the 'Cognitive' approach into the schools so that it replaces the 'Behaviourist' approach. We need to know about the brain to involve in learning, everything we say is directed by the brain."
She did her MA in History, Teacher Education, and Politics and an M.Phil. in Asian Studies from UCC, Cork, Ireland. Most recently, she finished a Cert in Mental Health in Communities from UCC. She has approximately a decade of international teaching experience, ranging from secondary school to further education.
Wild Ones Salon is an initiative by Good Day Cork & Think Speak Do Community Engagement. The 2nd Salon was organised with support from the Department of Rural and Community Development and Cork City LCDC.
Podcast music & edited by Harry Menton.
Produced by Kel Menton.
#Women #NonBinary #CorkLike #ChangeTheNarrative #GoodDayCork
[00:00:00] [Kel speaking] Hello. My name is Kel and you are listening to the Wild Ones Mini podcast series.
Our theme was a continuation of the, “I Choose to Challenge” theme, with a focus on ‘Re-imagining Education’. We were thrilled to have guest speaker Fahmeda Naheed with us. Fahmeda has been living in Cork on the north side for the last 13 years, and is a registered teacher with the teaching council of Ireland as a subject specialist for the subject of history in secondary schools. She believes that the challenge is how to apply the cognitive approach to schools so that it replaces the behaviorist approach,
and that we need to know about the brain to involve it in learning, because everything we say is directed by the brain. Here's what she had to say.
[Fahmeda speaking] Uh, the, the, the real challenge, you know, which was given to us, I maybe it's only the speakers or rest of the rest of us, was that, you know, what kind of [00:01:00] educational challenge you find in education system and education system mean? Like, you know, the education system. And I learned from my experience and education system, you know, I had.
Previously. And then as a mother, you know, the challenges I found, you know, in the education system, because my children, my, my, my eldest, she just going to start her first year in September. So, uh, the thing is you know that I believe that education system is not linked with the practical approach. You know, since the first thing since I came in Ireland and found it that, you know, the system or, or whatever the system, you know, it is not linked with a practical approach.
Still the memory is important part of intelligence, it's one same universal exams for same class and equality, socioeconomic status, and its effect on children’s development is not addressed by the system. And even now Sheila was talking about her own learning experience. You know, when we, when we were in the breakout and at that time she told like, you know, she didn't like the school because [00:02:00] of all the stress factor and everything.
So what happens like, you know, we all have different kinds of stories from our own experience and from one perspective. Even after having good qualifications, good trades, adults are suffering from mental health issues. Like, 'cause, you know, we, in our group we discussed you know what kind of mental health issues we had been, and we are not even able to afford the necessities of life still.
You know, there is a lot of challenges for us to get the money and salaries and manage our expenses. There are people that are unable to drive a car. Uh, a lot of us take a lot of time to adjust in the uncomfortable environment. We are unable to access services. We are unable to manage relationships because, at that it deserves in the lack of emotional intelligence. Still, you know, in Ireland, I see it, I see [I’m sorry, I’m not sure what she says here].
There are numerous academic and learning challenges. You are not able to understand the understanding of brain science for neural education. So very recently, you know, I, um, just about a year ago, you know, I started my job there [00:03:00] we have a group called, uh Neuroeducation and, uh, we, we have a kind of, you know, continuous engagement with that.
And there, I saw like, you know, the problems, the challenges I'm highlighting here. I found that, you know, a lot of the problems or the difficulties, they can be lessened, or few of them can be removed from the education system if we develop that neural, neural approach in our education system. So the challenge which Eilis asked me to do is, like I said, the challenge is how to apply the cognitive approach into the schools so that it replaces the behaviorist approach.
This behaviour, I suppose it's the same, like cultural approach, the traditional approach in education system, which is, quite, you know, with some difference, it is similar in Ireland, as well. We need to know about brain to involve in learning. Because for me, I think since I started learning this neuro education I developed that brain is the power.
The brain is the ultimate thing, which direct us. [00:04:00] Brain...everything, you know, especially the learning it involves, it was around the brain. Everything we say is directed by brain, brain is what we are, why our brain is your, our most valuable asset and why we need to learn. So we can be a useful, you know, as a, as a learner or as an educationist. When kids are having fun in the classes learning is no problem, but many kids are not enjoying school at all. And neural educators know this is, so they start every class with bouncing balls and having fun, it works very well. The stress goes down, the scores goes up, and the teachers are much happier too. So since, uh, developing this, you know, a model of learning, neural education approach, you know, uh, there are different ways to explore them, especially in the school.
There are different activities that the teachers can do in the classroom. Now the issue is like, that, how this physical activity, having some fun in the class and, you know, just take the stress out, how it, it helps. Actually, it allows [00:05:00] us to articulate our thoughts and desires, predictions, and plans that are rooted in emotion and survival instincts, mindset, expertise, and motivation became implicit elements in cognitive classrooms.
All students can be seen, all voices are heard and their potential is realised. It helps teachers to resolve their classroom management issues, prevent crisis and disturbed behavior and, and center socioeconomic, social, emotional learning, and restorative practices. Now, if, if the neuroscientists use, you know, a lot of physical gestures, physical, physical exercises, just to boost, you know, the movement in the body and why the moment in the body's important, is because movement is a regulation tool.
If a child is moving it's because their body needs to move, you know, the joints, the body structure, it all tells us, you know, that we have to keep engaged in movements, whatever kind of it is, it can be exercise. It can be games. It can be any healthy activity. The kid who finds endless reasons to approach the [00:06:00] teacher gets up to sharpen their pencil frequently asked to go to the toilet, swing on their chair, moves around while sitting on the mat, or
fidgets with objects, they are regulating themselves. So we have seen like a, a child with a disturbing behavior in the classroom. He will ask, “I have to go to the toilet”, he's not happy. It's like the thing is, you know, because the movement of the body is not directed into the way it should be in the classroom. But once that activity is in the place, you know, the movement of the body will bring something, uh, you know, a kind of good learning outcome from that child.
And as an adult, it is important that we do our best to allow this to happen. If we stop them from doing this we are inadvertently training them out of the ability to listen to what their body needs, the various skills that lays the foundation for self-regulation. So self-regulation is the idea. Now, if we look at the brain, if we look at, uh, this neural science concept, there's a concept of Amygdala Hijack.
That is very, very important. You know, this is the amygdala which is part of brain, uh, and [00:07:00] what happens or, or in the simple word, I can say, like, you know, the amygdala is kind of its output of sense organs is first received by the thalamus. So you can see this, this yellow part, thalamus. The part of the thalamus stimulate goes directly to the amygdala or emotional memory.
So basically the amygdala is part of the brain where you can just, it’s irrational brain. While other parts are sent to them neocortex or thinking rational brain, if the amygdala perceives a match, to the stimulus. If the record of the experience is that hippocampus tells the amygdala that it is a fight flight or freeze situation, and the amygdala triggers the PHP or HPA access and hijacks, whatever it takes rational brain factor.
So if somebody says like amygdala hijack is, like a person's reaction towards the stress. Okay. When this thing happens when the child is in a classroom where a lot of, a lot of [00:08:00] issues with him, with him or her like, if he is coming from a social, a low socioeconomic background, if he's coming from a complex situation, if somebody is the parents alcoholic, or the child of a single mom, or there's not enough nutrition in the food and all that, you know, he's coming, everything which is bringing from home.
When he comes in the classroom and he has the same kind of environment, but the teacher is, you know, all the time, there's a bullying in the school. The teacher is strict. You have to really find, you know, that your memory is the test. If you were to have a memory you’re an intelligent person, grading with goods and bads and all that, you know, then that amygdala really hijacks in that child.
And what happens, you know, during the school he is learning nothing. This is all with all of us, same stuff. If you're in an environment where you're not comfortable, you can't learn there at all. You know, we really wants to quit that space. We want to be our own, you know, or something, you know, but this, this kind of thing, it's not beneficial for a child or for an adult either.
So there is something, you know, we need to make, you know, that there are some structures are placed before the functions. In the [00:09:00] school, around our environment. And in our individual approach, you know, we have to develop that, you know, we, we shouldn't put ourselves into a situation where amygdala hijacks or there is, if anything happens, you know how to reduce it.
So the neural scientists, you know, especially in America, they have done a lot of work and this is something I think we should, should have to bring this thing into the education system of Ireland or whatever the part of the world. But it really helps, you know, to understand your, that, how our body will work according to the brain.
And how can we bring the brain from this amygdala hijack to us, to a situation we are all in a comfortable situation. And then the real learning will be developed. But the thing is after, after having somebody coming from this background, but when the same child goes back to the home and he has the same environment, same parents, no food, all that, you know, his life is in constant and constant and constant, you know, amygdala hijack situation.
And at the end of the day, we say that “oh he’s a bad boy, he’s a good boy”. But the thing is, you know, you're not realizing that because you're not giving enough potential [00:10:00] to the brain of that child, you know, you're not creating that structures before functions where we can realize that no, there is something, you know, there's some serious problem which you need to address.
So this is something, you know, this may bring, this may include being aggressive. Like a lot of students we have see, like, you know, they have these types of issues in the classroom. They're being aggressive, argumentative, violent, in a matter that, that dramatically out of proportion of the situation. Like suddenly they talk, they start shouting.
Same with adults, you know, you're in a parking space or somewhere, somebody just goes and bursts out. So this is something we’re aware, that is, is the amygdala, it’s the power of the amygdala, which is hijack that situation. And when in the schools, if you have some exercises, some activities in the place the amygdala becomes normal, you know, it's no more hijack, it’s on the same, you know, situation where you think like creativity and some change can happen.
Um, maybe you have heard or not, but Dr. Mahony [not sure of spelling!] he's, he's from Cork. You know, he is, [00:11:00] uh, kind of our guide, you know, who brought that concept. He was from originally from Cork. And at that time, uh, maybe Sheila can better explain, you know, the situation in Ireland education system. But Dr. Mahony tells us that the churches, they had the full authority, that corporal punishment was as much common as, you know, the daily living, just breathing and eating and, uh, So Dr.Mahony, you know, he developed this approach that he, he took the children who were taken out of the classroom and he developed his own classroom and he brought all those children. And then he found that, you know, that the socioeconomic status of those children was, you know, far behind than the other children.
And that had really affected their, uh, power of learning. So he developed some kind of mechanism and all that, you know, kind of activities separately, you know, and he didn't [???] and when there's results for their, you know, he brought with them and these children brought very good results in the school.
So then, you know, the church, [00:12:00] they were not happy with Dr. Mahony and he was so, you know, he was. Um, dis, discriminated and he left Ireland and he went to States. Now he's in Seattle and in Seattle, he has this first brain learning school where, you know, he has everything, the structures before functioning in place.
And he, when the students are bringing the best research, you know, and according to their potential match and according to their abilities. So if you want, I can send you the link and, and, you know, just kind of, you know, whatever you need to about that. If you want to join that group, you're more than welcome to join that group.
And if you need any other information and there's a book, it’s a book, its name is Brain Centric Designs, and that book is so, so good and powerful. It simply explains, you know, your own situation. Just not only the learn, it’s kind of learning environment for every individual, not in a formal settings or informal setting, but I applied that brain centric design into my own life, like, you know?
For my own children in the house, on the workplace as well, thankfully at our workplace we, whatever the [00:13:00] designs we use in the company, you know, they are mostly, you know, they're all designed from that. And Dr Mahony also works with Amazon and different, you know, international companies where they tell, you know, the learning model based on the brains centric design, and how they are so powerful and so easy that, you know, your brain adjust all that and you really absorb that into your daily practice.
So it's very good. Like, you know, if you're going to have it in our own capacities. So, if you look at the neural education, uh, you know, the, there are so many values which are part of that. Uh, neuroeducation scientifically proven, um, brain centric based and all that. But if there are some good quotations that I want to use here, like, “if speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.”
So there is something, a power of the words, you know, as making them as a value, because this is something your brain, even, you're a furious person, if you're a bad person, but you are good to some people. Because those are some people you are cared for and they care for you. They [00:14:00] give you the love, they give you the passion,
They give you an energy. Same like your mom, you know, you're, you're always happy with your mom because you know, like there's some spaces my mom is giving to me. So it's an emotional intelligence, you know, based on the relationship’s, um, engagement and all that, that, that, that that's so powerful. And then children who develop inside environments with never-ending fear are not able to regulate their nervous system because, nervous system needs space.
It needs, it has its own demands. It has its own needs, it has its own functions. Which are not my choice, your choice. They are something which, which we make us as human beings, you know, no matter which colour, which race, which geographical location you are, but this is something which has a universality. And which is so unique which we need to understand that. And same as like children who is not developing inside, who is living in the, in the situation of fear, his nervous system will be kind of whole nervous breakdown and learning breakdown. And we punish that fear because we only look at behaviours. [00:15:00] Schools can be the safe places where we model the neural exercises for regulation.
Then, if you, furthermore, to this brainpower, expecting the child, teaches them that even the smallest, most powerless, most vulnerable person is worthy of respect. So the concept of individualism, every person is important and in the scope of learning and in practice as a, as a member of community, as a member of a global community, and that is a lesson are very desperate and used to learn, you know, this is something, you know, which is vital to that.
You know, we have to see, you know, the human beings. And how the animals, you know, their stress response. So he says he's a neuroscientist and he develop, you know, uh, how, uh, the animals perceive their threat and their frequency and everything. And they did a lot of research on monkeys because they think monkey's brain is closer to human brain and you know, how the stress, they see and how they try to be protective and proactive and all that.
If you want you can [00:16:00] watch it later on, you know, I can send you the links, but, but mainly, you know, that the thing is, you know, we have to make. That the core values of human beings is something, you know, it should be having, we should be given the idea of the brain centrality because once we address the brains, brain has no religion.
Brain has no, uh, kind of, you know, yes or no. Brain is a brain and it has own structures and own conscience. And, and so natural. You know, you can't, we can't say like, this is something a kind of no racist phenomenon involved in, into this brain science, you know? So this is something I think like, you know, uh, it should be the model of teaching, uh, at, uh, in schools and universities and elsewhere.
I also, you know, for individual leverages a lot of capacities, which can, we can develop in our own homes and our surrounding, and also, you know, the, the workplace environment and workplace agents. They can also develop this model, which already, you know, the Amazon and other companies that are working and engaged into that.
Thank you very much, everybody.[00:17:00]
A short time after the salon, we asked Fahmeda to give us her thoughts about the experience. She writes, “If the hard things are discussed in a soft way, they make you feel light and addressable. Thanks to the salon for offering a forum where you can talk, discuss, chat, and say whatever you like, and what people want insight for.”
It was a wonderful session and she was so happy to attend. She thought there was a good flow and momentum in the online session and would definitely recommend all of her friends to follow them up. She gives her thanks. You can read more online about Fahmeda’s work with the immigrant council of Ireland on immigrant council dot I E.
Thank you to our sponsors, the local community development committee, and the department of rural and community development.[00:18:00]