Let’s go to brain school!

We were all vulnerable, weak little creatures when we first came into this world, with sparkly little eyes and frail little hands and feet. With tiny muscles and organs that were barely a fraction of the size of their mature versions. A baby. You’ll never again get that much care and attention and protection from the grown-up world.

The development of a child’s body is carefully overseen by schools and doctors. Is it growing at the right pace, not too slow and not too fast? Are the legs the same length? Then you’re given a few inoculations and there you go, all ready to take on the world. Physically, at any rate. Could it be that we’re too hung up on the physical body?

Sometimes the human body needs care and attention, and we can help nature along with some helpful advice, a bandage or medical treatment. When we’re in good health, we have a variety of possibilities at our disposal to make our body physically stronger and healthier. We have fitness centres, special nutrition, vitamin tablets and many other options to choose from.

Whatever you like. But why don’t we pay that much attention to the development of and care for our brains? Our government’s policies have been working for decades on making life more physically comfortable, but in the meantime, emotional issues arise more and more often. Especially for young people. Whose idea was it to pigeonhole children at the age of twelve by their grade school final exam performance, and then have them make some of the hardest decisions in their lives in the years after that? What profile do you pick in high school, what subject should you study in college? These are the most difficult kind of decisions, with thousands of options that only paralyse through sheer decision stress, during a stage of their lives where they’re trying to figure out their feelings, they’ve just left their parents’ house, and they might have to deal with their first romantic break-up too. We are declared an emotionally independent and responsible person from a very young age on, while your brain continues growing until the age of 24.

Care for our mental well-being seems to be disregarded, while the ways our brains work are understood better and better, and that knowledge should be put to better use. For example, during a recent debate, professor Dick Swaab contemplated a ‘retirement’ for 16 to 26 year olds — when they still have the stamina to go travel the world — and Wim Kuiper, chairman of the organisation Besturenraad, suggested separate classes for girls and boys in high school. It is necessary to unburden young adults and better adjust society to them in order to take proper care of their brain development.

But against better knowledge, the government is increasing the pressure on students by reforming student benefits, and criminal law will become more severe for 16 and 17 year olds. It seems then that the only option left is to speed up young adults’ brain development.

Does anyone know of any brain school?

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