New View EDU Episode 18: Applying Neuroscience to Designing Inclusive Schools

Available May 3

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Schools are workplaces—not only for students, but for the faculty and staff who provide the learning environment in a school community. Are we truly designing our schools to be great workplaces for everyone? What does research about neuroscience and the human experience teach us about the qualities of truly productive, inclusive, desirable places to work and learn? And do we fully understand what it means to bring equity to a community through the way we design our environments, systems and policies for the benefit of all?

Camille IngeCamille Inge is a researcher and consultant at the NeuroLeadership Institute, whose personal goals are to create radical clarity, mitigate unconscious bias, and inspire active inclusion. She joins host Tim Fish on this episode of New View EDU, along with special guest co-host Caroline Blackwell, the vice president of equity and justice for NAIS. Together, Camille, Tim, and Caroline dig into the research that has inspired the NeuroLeadership Institute’s frameworks to help make organizations more human through science.

Camille shares that as our world has become more technologically sophisticated, workplaces—including schools—have increasingly become less human-friendly. Our tolerance for human limitations and mistakes has diminished, and we have begun to set expectations and create systems that don’t respect the cognitive capacity of the average person. Rather than allowing for a sense of safety, fulfillment, belonging, and empowerment, our organizational designs are creating stress, anxiety, and unrealistic demands on real human beings. That shift in our expectations, Camille argues, is a key driver of burnout, hyper-competitive mindsets, and diminished decision-making capacity.

In the midst of the Great Resignation, how can we get back on track and ensure that our school communities are desirable, supportive places for people to work and learn? Camille explores the SCARF model, which summarizes the major social findings in neurocognitive research and applies them to human behavior in the workplace. She also breaks down the key concepts involved in active inclusion, and how they can help create psychological safety and well-being for all members of a community. Together, Camille and Caroline also examine the key definitions and concepts behind widely used—but often misunderstood—terms like equity, inclusion, and diversity.

Key Questions

Some of the key questions Tim and Caroline explore with Camille in this episode include:

  • From your research with the group and your work with clients, why do you think our organizations need to be more human? 
  • What are the characteristics of truly great workplaces? If the school leaders who are listening decided that they wanted to be a truly great workplace, what should they do?
  • What is the SCARF model, and how can it be applied in schools?
  • If we are not actively working to advance toward including others, we are quite possibly accidentally excluding. Beyond simply being aware of the elements of the model, what are some ways that a teacher and administrator can bring this concept to life in the classroom and community?

Episode Highlights

  • “Feeling respected, feeling that you're trusted, that you have the ability to make choices, that you can take on creative pursuits, that you can have a voice that you can feel like you matter and have a sense of self in that place. And then that they're flexible. And agile, you know, that we can keep up with the pace of change, that we can listen, learn, adapt in a timely manner. So integrity, diversity, inclusion and empowerment, flexibility.” (10:17)
  • “I mean, downtime is something that we're talking about a lot now, as something that we've neglected and that's so core to us being able to regenerate and be able to refuel, is this intentional creation of space where there's no goal. To just be able to mind wander and just be. I mean, it's relatively mindful. And we don't have a lot of space for that and it's negatively stigmatized, but in a place like kindergarten, it seems quite core to it…those things should be maintained throughout the whole human experience.” (13:34)
  • “Likely if we're not actively including, we're probably accidentally excluding, cause it's a lot easier to go about our daily lives focused from a first person perspective rather than considering the perspectives of others, that platinum rule.” (38:53)
  • “And at least thinking at the highest level of abstraction, do we, do we believe in the same things? Do we want the best for our students? Yes, of course. That's common ground. How do we get there? We might differ on that, but at least we can agree, yes, we want the best for our students, for our community. And starting there can be a really inclusive behavior before assuming that someone has ill intentions. We all probably would say we have the best intentions. So let's give each other the benefit of the doubt as well and work from there.” (40:44)

Resource List

Full Transcript

About Our Guest

Camille Inge is a researcher and consultant at the NeuroLeadership Institute as well as a key contributor to NLI’s perpetual reimaging of how people work for the past seven years. Camille co-designs some of NLI’s distributed learning solutions, including IMPROVE: The Neuroscience of Better Feedback, INCLUDE: The Neuroscience of Smarter Teams, and FOCUS: The Neuroscience of Thriving Through Crisis. FOCUS has helped millions of employees take care of each other throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Camille also spearheads custom framework design, learning architecture, and program facilitation for leading companies across healthcare, technology, consumer goods, education, entertainment, and finance industries.

Her unwavering goals are to create radical clarity, mitigate unconscious bias, and inspire active inclusion.

Camille has contributed to the research, writing, and editing of 13 peer-reviewed articles in the NeuroLeadership Journal, and led content development for seven NeuroLeadership Summits, NLI’s annual conference challenging conventional wisdom with scientific research.