A window into ADOLESCENT brain development:
implications for behaviour, emotion, teaching and learning
A 90 minute presentation - can be adapted
To have Mark present to your school or organisation to unpack a few truths about adolescent behaviour email or phone
A download link to a PowerPoint file is coming.
Adolescents; they're fun loving, moody, helpful, secretive, insightful, obstinate and infuriating, and all in the space of a few moments! There is just no predicting. They have such potential, yet take such risks. Even for the most responsible teen, there is always that explosive combination of youth, opportunity, and bad choice. As recently as 10 years ago teachers, parents and researchers alike believed that the unpredictable behaviour was all about the, hormones! They knew little about the true depth of things. ENTER the science of neurobiology and EXIT the 'raging hormones'.
We now know that the teenage brain is like a beautiful red Ferrari; it's sleek, shiny, sexy, and fast, and it corners really well. It has HUGE potential. But, it can't drive itself and has really dodgy brakes. It is still 'in construction' and functions very differently from an adult's brain, despite the fact that teenagers inhabit what often looks like an adult's body.
The teenage brain is a work in progress. Let's explore the wide-ranging implications about how we should relate, teach, discipline and work with this age group;
Do you know that after the classic 'pruning process' the teen brain enters 'a state of cellular excitement'? Let's explore the implications for learning.
Do you understand that when a teen abuses sleep, alcohol, pills or marijuana the effects are still with them at school as they learn, socialise and make decisions much, much later on? What they have done is to create a powerful 'self-induced learning disability'.
What do you know about 'hot cognition'? When under stress, teen 'hot cognition' - rapid, logical decision-making - vanishes. This explains why their decision making can be irrational. It also alerts us to how behaviour needs to be pitched!
Do you know that their dopamine levels are just not at optimal levels? Dopamine allows us to pay attention, work out what to pay attention to, to maintain attention and distinguish what's important from sheer background noise. Without adequate levels it is hard to generate motivation into the future.
And, when it comes to reading emotions and responding appropriately, have you ever thought that teens have alien styled processes? You're right! But, there's good reason for this. Younger teens use a different area of the brain to process feelings. They actually perceive and process things in the 'threat centre' - the amygdala, a basic memory and emotions processor of their brain.
Let's wrap up with 5 practical tips for teachers and parents who work with adolescents;
None of us have 'the skills' to fix anyone up. All we've got to offer is the willingness to understand where our teens are in terms of their neurological development, and a spirit to preserve and build relationships with them.