A Press Democrat Blog

Dr. David Sortino


Why Student Underachieve

In order to understand why certain students underachieve in school, we need to have a basic understanding of what major brain centers are associated with achievement and your student’s learning brain. The left and right sides of a student’s brain must work together for effective learning to take place. Unfortunately, most school curricula cater to the left side or the sequential, mathematical, linear, verbal and logical areas of the student’s brain. One important reason for low achievement is because a percentage… Read More »

Stopping School Violence: Restorative Justice or Zero Tolerance

President Obama’s recent speech concerning the elimination of a zero tolerance discipline philosophy in American public schools is long overdue. Zero tolerance is a tool that became popular in the 1990s, supporting uniform and swift punishment for offenses such as truancy, smoking or possession of a weapon. Violators could lose classroom time and even be saddled with a criminal record. The recommendations encouraged schools to ensure that all school personnel be trained in classroom management, conflict resolution and approaches to… Read More »

Television and the Developing Brain

A good example of pioneering  TV programming for children’s brain development is the popular PBS show “Sesame Street,” particularly its role in stimulating language development. In fact, the “Sesame Street” producers smartly surmised that effective children’s TV programing that focused on the areas of the brain responsible for language development could advance children’s expressive language. Studies show that children who watch “Sesame Street” at age two score higher on school readiness tests in kindergarten than those who do not. Another… Read More »

Setting the Record Straight: Super Bowl and Beer Commercials

Watching this year’s NFL football playoffs and/or Super Bowl requires extensive viewing hours of TV commercials, which are often laced with themes representing beer, cars and/or trucks — Americana at its best. One underlying theme presides during the commercials that interrupt the entertainment of huge men bashing each other, and that is the theme of alcohol. However, it was not like this years ago, because alcohol was prohibited. But like the camel in a tent parable, beer commercials have slowly… Read More »

A Viable Alternative to Medication For ADHD Children

A recent article in the Press Democrat titled “Drug Firms Spend Big to Sell Public on ADHD” highlighted the proliferation of medication for ADHD children. The article illustrated how drug companies’ profit margins are directly connected to the overmedication of ADHD children. The overmedication begs us to question why so many parents succumb to medication for ADHD children when the risks often outweigh the benefits? In other words, the many challenges and failures could be a major reason why they… Read More »

Deceptive advertising effect on children

It was probably my fifth grade teacher who taught us how certain industries use deception to attract children to buy their products. For example, why has the tobacco industry never had a problem with candy cigarette companies replicating their cigarette packs or why has the gun industry allows close replicas of assault rifles as copycat-like toys? McDonald’s discovered long ago that if an industry gives toys to children under the guise of a side benefit of eating fast food it… Read More »

Fear of failure? Only in your mind!

Some of the most difficult children to teach are those who have a fear of failure. Unfortunately, for may teachers  such children often display deep scars of failure that can challenge even the most experienced and successful teacher. In my opinion, those teachers who possess the ability to change an individual’s perception of failure have achieved the ultimate challenge in the classroom or on the playing field. One strategy to deal with fear of failure is to focus on the… Read More »

The mechanics of teaching

Today’s complicated car engines often seem analogous to the working of a student’s learning brain. Both mechanics and teachers do not get the credit they deserve. Compare yesterday’s cars and students with today’s cars and students and you begin to see how complicated both professions have become. Years ago, teaching was far less complicated. Today’s teachers have to be specialized yet flexible enough to teach students who have previously been exposed to many diverse approaches: public and/or private, hour-long versus… Read More »

Teen athletes and performance-enhancing drugs

The ongoing saga regarding professional athletes and PEDs, performance enhancing drugs, minimizes the real problem concerning the consequences for players and drug suppliers. For years those in power have looked in the other direction when dealing with performance-enhancing drugs. That is, higher athletic performance means money to the athletes as well as to their teams. However, there is something far more insidious beyond the consequence of a suspension or lost money for perpetrators. Instead, the discussion should focus on the… Read More »