Mind & Brain See Inside New Classrooms Can Change Children's Brains By The Editors PATRICK GEORGE Children come to school with different aptitudes, many of which determine their ability to learn. Some are quicker at grasping the concepts and skills that form the core of most educational curricula. Others are better able to concentrate or make friends. Some seem lazy; others determined. As a result, we label children as smart, attentive, social and hardworking—or as slow, distracted, shy and lackadaisical. The labels suggest fixed traits, not teachable skills. In recent years, however, researchers have begun to parse the basic brain functions that form the foundation for many of the qualities and abilities necessary to succeed in school—and in later life. These “executive functions” include the mental lifting and maneuvering that manifest as intelligence, as well as the behavioral control vital for qualities such as focus, persistence and restraint. New research now suggests that these essential brain functions are not immutable. They are rapidly developing in youngsters, and the environment can alter their course. This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Buy Digital Issue Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2013 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.