Dopamine over Cortisol

Looking back at my almost 39 years of life, I’ve truly experienced a lot of ‘major events’ in history. Yet, there has been no time like now. 9/11. Iraq War. Those were incredibly impactful things as it changed a lot of people’s lives (including mine). Yet, I feel like the COVID crisis has ripped open systematic problems and has radicalized our lives, thus pivoting a lot of practices.

We wonder the level of impact on our youth. Yet their resiliency depicts their capacity to overcome. What if these kids become the most adaptable, innovative, imaginative workers of our time? They will definitely have stellar technology skills which leads me to believe that we have new technologies unfolding in the youth that are seeking resolution to everyday problems. #goodtimetoinvestinouryouth

Yet I am equally concerned about the impact on the social-emotional development of our already-troubled children. Technology has been a blessing as well as a curse. It changes the growing brains and rewires our chemical reactions to what brings us meaningful feedback (what causes the release of cortisol (stress hormone) or dopamine (happy hormone)). The concern this creates for me is two-fold. One- engagement: will students be able to truly engage in their learning when delivered from the same resource they seek entertainment? Secondly- if we are providing engaging lessons that release dopamine (like video games do), are we conditioning our youth to continue to seek reward through technology engagement? (Watch this video for a great summary) Yeeks.

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I want to ensure to empower our youth to explore and be curious about the physical world and how it can provide powerful ‘dopamine’ releases. Yet I also want to encourage our tiny human beings to develop innovative and creative solutions to world (or everyday) problems. As educators, we must commit to developing more real-world integration into our lessons. #fieldtripsathomeeveryday #interviewsomeonespecialvirtually #buildempathythroughinteraction

By golly, I feel like I could engage in some rich discussion about how our world is changing as we experience collective shifts and build new ways of building relationships and resolutions. I am honored to be a part of this history change, yet I am challenged on how I can meaningfully contribute to the ‘new world problems’ and the innovative opportunities that are unfolding. As I continue to engage in deeper thinking and navigate new perspectives, I know I will be called to action where my heart and mind align.

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For now, I remain encouraged by collaboration. Having the opportunity to engage in complex conversation with coworkers, explore new topics with close family members, navigate tough decisions and have crucial conversations has only made me closer to others and better understand myself.  In truth- I have learned more about myself, my family, and my friends because we’ve been able to collaborate (virtually or socially distanced) as we’ve been making sense of the new times. For this reason, I am incredibly grateful for the person I’m becoming through this challenging, life-changing, historical time.

Though we each hold worry (our amygdala is hard at work!), may you find peace in conversation and collaboration. May new opportunities arise to strengthen relationships, perspectives and life direction. May you feel more empowered than overwhelmed. May you feel embraced more than isolated. Together, we can change the future. Our youth can be a strong example of our choice to invest in them. The future will be bright, its just uber hazy right now. Coming together (in whatever way is safest), will strengthen our future and help inspire new things to grow.

We've Got This Quotes

For my dear educators (parents included as we are partners now), hold this true to your heart in your planning for your resilient pedagogy:

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I believe in YOU. I believe in our YOUTH. I believe in our RESILIENCY. Let’s commit to find creative ways to release more dopamine than cortisol!



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