It’s a Matter of Confidence: Brain Education in El Salvador


In today’s society, we are subjected to so much information and knowledge every day, information that we try to transmit to children in the best way possible. In that process, even without us noticing it, many kids can easily lose their identity, their own internal value. If we happen to be born in a country where the information is negative rather than positive, our brains, which are purer and more absorptive the younger we are, can be highly damaged during our upbringing. As we all know, children in countries that are underdeveloped and violent are particularly in need of reprogramming their brains for a healthier living and a brighter future.

The most dangerous thing is not just that they are subjected to this information but also the consequences that might occur. What happens is children lose trust in themselves. So even in a situation where the education system is improved and kids acquire a lot of knowledge, they ultimately won’t be able to use it well in their lives because of their lack of confidence.

“Brain education” in an analytical setting allows students to understand, first and foremost, why they study. This becomes the foundation they can always tap into beyond specific subjects — beyond what they study. In this way, they are encouraged to recover their own self-esteem rather than their trust in this or that ability or methodology, or this or that mentor or teacher. When they do this, they are better able to choose their future for themselves and use their acquired knowledge and skills not for fitting in but for their own goals. They start to take ownership of their lives.

The most important process for recovering confidence is stress management and regulating emotions. We are witnessing more and more that developing our metacognition, our ability to see things and situations from a neutral point of view as an observer, is actually the key to success in life. Look at the most extreme cases of success in the most developed country in the world — people like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Barack Obama. It’s not like they were successful all along. What they share is a constant overcoming of obstacles and a detachment from failure or judgment, a mastery over emotional experience.

This can apply to any level of success. Each person defines their own goal and dream. The goals can be big or small, and they can take many forms and shapes, from making money and having political influence to having moral influence and helping as many people as possible … or … anything, really. What matters to our life, our brain and our body is not what type of dream we have but making it a reality.

Everybody has the potential to recover their own value. We are born with it. It’s not a talent we develop. It may appear as fortune or the ability of a few, but it’s actually a natural tendency of all human beings. When we experience conflict, be it internal or external, we all want to solve it, and we all try to solve it to some degree. And when we surpass the conflict, our self-confidence rises, and our goal becomes clearer. It’s mathematical! It’s just that in our life we go through a lot of stress and emotions, which hurt our brain and create limitations.

IBREA (the International Brain Education Association) started its brain education project in El Salvador with the idea that if students and teachers recover their value and learn to manage their stress and emotions, they will probably have more capacity and potential to create the lives they want. Emotions are energy, and if we can manage our energy, we can manage our emotions.

That’s what brain education teaches: how to manage energy and emotions. It helps educators and kids change their mind. They go from a state in which they don’t know their true value and purpose in life to one where they get to know themselves and their great potential, and eventually find their life’s purpose. When they reach this point, they start to manifest that value in the world, which translates into optimizing the brain’s potential, thus benefiting their community as widely as well.

The ultimate goal of brain education is to increase the number of people who live with that consciousness, together creating a positive impact in societies and nations.

In the last two years, approximately 100 teachers and 300 students have learned brain education in El Salvador and have shown with their experience the application of this theory. Through their brain education practice, they have increased the value of their existence and their work. Research shows that their levels of stress, their trauma symptoms, and their test anxiety have decreased while the school climate, teacher attitudes, peer relations, self-regulation, and cognitive-strategy use have increased. Qualitative data show a more peaceful coexistence in the schools and more motivation to improve their work and their results.

Based on this two-year pilot experience, brain education is now reaching the national level in El Salvador. In June this year, IBREA started a project targeting the 14 regions of the country, along with 180 schools and more than 100 health professionals assisting educational staff. With this project, IBREA hopes to reduce violence in schools and create a culture of peace across the country.

El Salvador is the first case study of this kind. By continuing to widen the program’s participants, IBREA wants to provide evidence of a nation’s gradual healing and growth through clearing the individual’s brain from negative experiences and information; finding their true value inside; and using their brain well to actualize it in their reality. This process starts inside and is then reflected outside, therefore creating a change that is self-sustainable and does not rely on external aid.

This article was originally published in Brain World Magazine’s Fall 2013 issue.

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We believe that neuroscience is the next great scientific frontier, and that advances in understanding the nature of the brain, consciousness, behavior, and health will transform human life in this century.

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