Is the brain infinitely developable?
When we say that everyone has been given certain things by nature – building blocks, so to speak – we often get the sceptical question whether this means that our brain cannot develop further. We are happy to answer this question as follows: having a natural talent and the further development of our brain are not diametrically opposed.
The brain continues to develop throughout our lives, different areas of the brain are connected to each other, which provides certain skills. Connections become stronger when we repeat certain skills over and over again. Based on what we learn, new connections can continue to form throughout our lives. So yes: new connections continue to form in your brain and therefore you learn! However, we cannot change our natural disposition and what we are naturally stronger at. Based on this, certain connections will form more easily and with more energy than others. Skills that originate in the brain are limited by a biological ceiling. The biological building blocks that you have naturally been given determine your potential.
For example, it is possible for a very good sprinter to improve the time of the 100 metres from 16.8 to 11.2 seconds by training very hard. Perhaps a few hundredths of a second can be saved, but at some point, this sprinter will reach his ceiling. His development is limited by the biological building blocks such as muscle groups, structure and maximum oxygen uptake. Even 10,000 hours of training will not make him a natural like Usain Bolt.
Brain and intelligence
The same applies to the brain. You can train – and thus improve – certain cognitive skills such as reaction speed, but also here, you have your own limit. At a certain moment, you reach your maximum achievable reaction speed. You also see that the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to reach your maximum capabilities. It is therefore important that at a young age you already have insight into what you are good at. This ensures that you can focus on what you are naturally good at and that you will reach your own peak. This works much better than the idea that everything can be developed endlessly and everyone can become good at anything.
An article recently appeared on the effect of this Growth Mindset on children’s learning performance. It is good to stimulate children to improve themselves. The Growth Mindset can contribute to this. The problem lies in the implementation of this Growth Mindset. In the implementation, the importance of innate intelligence is often underestimated or even ignored. There are genetic conditions. Every human being has his own biological building blocks, as I said, with its own limitations. Education should therefore not just be about making more effort. But above all, it must be about making purposeful and meaningful efforts, based on the things that children will develop with more energy and ease. Teaching concrete skills that match a child’s natural aptitude is a much more effective way of getting them to reach their maximum potential than telling them that they can change their brain (and all its associated skills) through a lot of hard work.
Want to know more?
Do you want to know whether your efforts match the biological building blocks of your brain? Read more about our Brain Profile here!
This blog is powered by our partner Brainsfirst – WayFinders has an exclusive partnership with Brainsfirst.