EEG - OUT OF THE CLINIC... INTO THE CLASSROOM
by Jeremy Langford & Yael Langford
We have gone back to school! Back to the large playground where we meet the young friends we play with, and whom we accompany into the classroom to observe how they learn. Together with students of varying ages, we investigate significant questions relating to a profound understanding of personality, thought process, absorbtion of information and knowledge, the process of memorizing, ways of organising learned material, coping with the stress of examinations, self confidence, etc. For this purpose we use various methods, the newest and most important of which is - biofeedback, especially EEG (Analysis and Feedback) -the field we feel to be most promising, and certainly most satisfying.
Together with the students, our team discusses, investigates, and reflects upon such issues as:
- The nature of the mind.
- The function of the mind.
- The relationship between thoughts and objects.
- The relationship between thought and language.
- How does the process of thought influence one's desires?
- How does thinking influence knowing?
- How does thinking influence believing?
- Can we uncover undiscovered parts of the mind?
In this chapter, we would like to demonstrate a study pattern, a way of thinking (while emphasising the use of such tools as imagination, symbolization) and not the expression of a conclusion as final, limited knowledge. Or, in Albert Einstein's words:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world,stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution".
We believe that the time has come to use the techniques of EEG in non-formal, non- clinical settings. The technology is available! We need the openness of society, the sensitivity and the intuition of gifted people to utilize the method. Our work is carried out in defined and structured frameworks as specified below. We allow free expression of the student's inner world on the one hand, while observing a meticulous standard of work and tasks on the other. This combination of freedom and discipline is extremely constructive both in raising a student's existing standard of ability (we invite awareness of this) and in discovering new abilities. The student is taught how to attain these and his/her progress is monitored by the EEG feedback method, as specified below.
We have observed a significant improvement in the students:
- They are happy to come to school.
- They are able to cope with their studies adequately.
- They take an active interest in their studies.
- They are productive people who abound in creative energy.
- They are revealed to be spirited and enthusiastic.
THE TOOLS WE WORK WITH AND HOW WE MAKE USE OF THEM
Of the equipment available for EEG feedback, we have, until now,made use of the Mind Mirror 111, which shows us on a screen various states of the human mind in different situations. We connect the person being examined to the Mind Mirror and observe "in real time" the display of his/her brainwaves in both hemispheres. We follow the thought process of the person as he/she describes a certain thought or experience, while giving him/her the responsibility of pinpointing these consciously and precisely.
When we refer to brainwave patterns, we do not mean a dry,clinical reading of the electrical activity of the brain, but an intimate reflection of profound aspects of the thinking, feeling human being. We do not yet fully understand all that we observe on our EEG readings, but we can be sure that they reflect essential elements of the person being examined (taking into consideration the limitations of the readings of EEG equipment available to us today).
By combining the tests received on the screen of the Mind Mirror with other Biofeedback parameters, such as the results of ESR/GSR tests, and changes in peripheral temperature - tests from both sides of the person examined, our drawing of the person's thought process is more precise. We have a clearer understanding of the intellectual and emotional aspects of the person being examined!
By combining the data received from the various instruments at our disposal, we receive the following information:
A) The general character structure of the person being examined.
Here we gain understanding of the person's thought process. His/her method of dealing with the task at hand is carefully examined, not only the result received in a particular pattern. Free time between assignments is also taken into account. During these moments, thought flows naturally. On the screen we see the thought patterns while he/she engages in free thought, and we can also see changes in these patterns when the person is required to relate to a specific task or question. These can be intimate and precious moments with a child which he/she may choose to share with us thus deepening the bond between us. The same process may take place when students begin to work together and share their personal thoughts and feelings with each other. Thus the first tools of communication are provided and learned.
B) A person's way of thinking.
Someone who tends towards analytical thought has a different
thought process from someone who generally thinks intuitively, and this shows up clearly on the Mind Mirror screen.
C) Emotional blocks and alternative ways of expression.
D) Initial tension (emotional and physical).
E) Initial general awareness.
F) First test of openness to flexibility and change.
In addition to the above indications, we are aided by verbal and written questionaires - questions concerning general details of health, residence, nutrition, work, physical activity, general areas of interest etc. Above all, we rely on well developed personal intuition in order to grasp a detailed picture of the characteristics of the person examined. Working with the Mind Mirror 111 is a fine art as well as a science. One has to use a great deal of intuition in order to get to the depth of the person's personality through the signals flickering on the screen of the Mirror, to give them life and significance. In addition to which we synthesize data and sum up his/her general abilities in relation to his/her practical and philosophical attitude to life. In fact, this picture is rather circular in character. A circle "opening" with the influence of internal and external factors regarding a person's way of thinking, and "closing" with guidance towards taking charge of, and changing, those elements in one's life that one would perhaps like to change. This can be achieved through the mind - for "action has its source in thought".
THE PROJECT WITH ISRAELI STUDENTS
In our work with Israeli students, we have managed to take clinical research out into the great market of life. In Israel we have people immigrating from all over the world. They come here,to a small country, where they live in congested frameworks from nursery-school through school, high school, the army, university, and civilian adult life. We have all come from different cultures, beliefs and life styles, and all of us are accustomed to a certain standard of learning ability and achievement. There are great disparities and differences between people in Israeli society that become apparent in the many different social
frameworks of life here. In our work with students from all sections of the population, we have been asked to teach them to make better use of their potential, despite the initial disparities.
We have observed that accepted methods of general education today are not appropriate for the possibilities inherent in the use of the natural function of the brain. In a general educational framework, classes are usually formed according to age and a certain scholastic standard. But since bonding or distancing factors among people are far more complex than criteria such as these, it would appear that not only is the efectiveness of the individual limited, but also the potential of the entire group. We therefore use new methods for analysing the character and potential of the individual and, according to tests and work methods to be presented, we build heterogenous groups with a remarkable ability for team work. We examine each student by means of the above tests (A-F) Mind Mirror, ESR, Peripheral temperature and questionaires. The results of each personal analysis determine how we structure each class according to such criteria as:
* Those who make predominant use of the right side of the brain.
* Those who make predominant use of the left side of the brain.
* Those who are emotional and whose left side is very active.
* Those who are emotional and whose right side is very active.
* Those whose 0 frequencies are blocked and whose right side is emotional.
* Those whose 0 frequencies are blocked and whose left side is emotional.
And so on, combinations of "tiny" and important nuances that leave their mark on the character of an individual. The above is obviously an extremely abbreviated list of the criteria that we use.
A rough diagram illustrates:
A random class group
Left dominant Right dominant
Various nuances in Various nuances in
left oriented brainwaves. right oriented brainwaves
According to these separate structures, we divide the students into groups where the brain patterns are similar. At first we work with the groups and help them to attain and improve the following tools:
1. Tools for easing initial tension (internal, external).
2. Tools for attaining and improving the ability to visualize.
3. Tools for internalizing awareness of group components and for developing awareness of changes among group members.
4. Tools for evaluating a situation - at first without instruments and, later on, connecting them to various instruments (the Mind Mirror, ESR, Peripheral temperature) for evaluating confrontation / refuting preconceptions. For example:We and a student are working together. Various patterns show up on the screen. At some point during the session we ask the student how he/she is feeling. We may suggest that the student close his/her eyes and just be with the feeling. Wehand him/her an "event freeze" button. When the student feels fully connected to a feeling or image, he/she presses the button and freezes the pattern on the screen.
We can see the process of the thought pattern on the screen. We can determine the correlation between the student's sense of connection with a feeling and what is actually reflected on the
screen. We also use biofeedback instruments (ESR and Peripheral Temperature) which indicate the student's degree of relaxation and alertness. On the Mind Mirror screen the patterns reflected will indicate the degree of his/her awareness at a given moment.
The purpose of this method is to help a student gain more self awareness and to be able to check his/her own reactions.
Is he/she in fact really in connection with whatever he/she is feeling? At first we work individually, then in couples, threesomes and so on until the entire group is working together.
5. Developing awareness of the influence of external factors on the pace of desired change, such as:
* The external aspect of the classroom - curtains,layout, lighting,classroom colors...
* Pace of teacher's and student's speech.
* Seating arrangements.
* Nutrition - Students receive a background in nutrition.
* Background sounds during studies (phsyco -accoustic sounds / binural beats and/or music)
* Sleep and rest patterns.
6. Tools for encouraging students' expression of thoughts and feelings in the group with the help of: painting, writing,
sculpture, playing musical instruments, movement, exercises... and, above all, plenty of open group discussion to "massage" centers in the mind and feeling of each participant.
The Mind mirror 111 tests, after one or all of the stages 1-6, have indicated definite changes in patterns as a result of this work. There are definite changes of personality, of the ability to think and remember, openness to the group, openness to and a desire for change, and, particularly, a development of self awareness and understanding of what is happening inside oneself.
As a result, students are more confident, happier, more certain of being able to cope.
After working on the above in all the sub groups, we begin a process of intermingling, whereby, for instance, a student from a right brain oriented group will be placed in a group of left brain oriented students. Resulting changes and developments will then be observed.
These changes too are measured by instruments and discussed in the groups. A new dynamic balance is created that is generally a considerable improvement on the initial state. We continue the process of intermingling until there is an interrelation of all the different factors in the class. This situation allows a positive contribution of complementary factors all developing and extending each participant's boundaries.
The divisions fall away and differences are contained in a creatively functioning group. This process is preceded when possible by similar, intensive work with the students' teachers and educators. To our regret this is not always possible. The results of our work with students are faster and better when teachers and educators receive instruction and cooperate with the general program. The group now functions in its original size in the process described above. In this format we facillitate the following complementary processes:
* We provide various methods of studying and teaching.
* We provide new methods of thinking.
* We teach methods of organizing material.
* We encourage students' new ideas and include them in our program.
We see that people are happier. We are astonished to see how, with ostensibly simple instruments, such as the Mind Mirror 111, ESR and Peripheral Temperature biofeedback instruments, we have managed to achieve a great deal in an area which, we believe, has immense personal and general importance. We are excited by uses of the Mind Mirror 111 that we did not anticipate when we originally began investigating this field. But we must state that although we have achieved remarkable results with regard to qualitative concepts, we have observed limitations in this instrument when desiring to measure quantitative concepts. We regret also that the Mind Mirror 111 is limited with regard to precise analytical results, graphs, and
comparisons, and that there is no way of doing any form of statistical analysis.
A sense of excitement and discovery is common to all those who have participated in the process of expanding their potential boundaries. The vision of observing and understanding mindwaves has emerged from the research laboratory still investigating the subject, into daily implementation, experienced by many who need it on various levels. It is no easy matter to break through conventional attitudes, or answer the question: Can you really help me with these instruments? People who ask for help express ambivalence. What is this new instrument that you are showing me? (doubt, scorn...). And after reflecting and investigating: How can this new instrument help me? (first openness to the experience).
We have so far been able to answer these questions adequately, easing awareness of the existence of new concepts of being and the beginnings of an ability to take charge, to take responsibility for the changes we would like to see in our lives. We are also looking further afield for additional new methods of utilizing EEG in our work. We believe that the sensitivity, intuition and self respect of our children are being undermined by the conditions of the present educational facilities. Instead of recreation hours being rich with imaginitive play, or reading, our children are often deprived of this by the memorizing of final conclusions taught in programs that demand very little of the child. Programs that leave no space for individual imagination, and one wonders what effect these have on a child's ability to internalize a sense of reality, fantasy, and their boundaries. We are concerned by the emphasis placed on competition and achievement. If one is primarily concerned with winning, it is very hard to see either one's own, or someone else's special inner world beyond the urge to win. Classmates become opponents, not opportunities for developing relationships of trust and sharing.
We would like to see our children eager for the gifts of curiosity and discovery; able to communicate sensitively with others; aware of their own special skills and respectful of those of others. We would like to see them open to expressing their feelings, thoughts and beliefs; take responsibility for these, and for changing certain attitudes and behaviours. Above all we would like to see them understanding that we can all take charge of our lives. We may not always be able to change what happens to us, but if we are aware of our reactions, thoughts and feelings, we can certainly change our attitudes. We believe that by teaching children and, in fact any willing person, the methods we have described here, we can help them to find the way back to their birthright of self awareness, confidence in what they are feeling, and in the fact that change is possible, the process visible on the screen. Given this possibility, the present becomes a challenging, infinitely more satisfying journey, and the future holds exciting promise!
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