The Adolescent Brain What’s going on? Implications for teaching
Brain Changes• Adolescence• Structural• Functional• Chemical• Sex hormones• Dopamine and serotonin• Identity and personality
Consequences• Unable to think through the consequences of their actions• Poor executive functioning impacts on decision making and choices• High risk behaviour• Addiction vulnerability• Cold cognition vs hot cognition• Reward seeking behaviour driven via dopamine• Impulsive behaviour and instant gratification• Violent and aggressive, delinquency, heroic altruism, competitiveness• Act like an adult one minute and a child the next• Personal fable
Implications• Planning, anticipating the consequences of a decision• Regulating their own behaviour• Reward centre “priority”• Immortal• “Super peer” culture• Defiant, challenging authority• Push limits (power struggle)• Seek autonomy
Strategies• Relationships – hobbies, interests and passions• Safe and supportive learning environment• Need for teachers to genuinely care about them personally• Build team spirit – collaborate, cooperate, create community• Autonomy: we need to respond by gradually granting them more control• Think ahead, make a plan, and carry it out• ICT social network, IT, Blogs
Strategies• Opportunity for adolescents to seek information about the changes to their brain and the variation in neurological, emotion and psycho- social function• Create role playing scenarios to allow them to think about the consequences of their actions, and behaviour, for the future• Provide opportunities to attend to the emotional expressions, experiences and plights of other people including other adolescents (help-seeking peer support)• Develop their ability to think abstract thoughts (critical thinking) in a variety of learning environments• Encourage self reflection about situation, handled correctly do it differently (social scaffold)• Right and wrong scenarios• Cold cognition• Positive addiction
Opportunities• Neurological pathways that support motor skills (speed, strength and fitness) and speech peak in adolescence• Safe risk taking with responsible adult supervision• Reduce threatening task and environment• Time for passion about sports, music, art or literature• Channel passion into idealistic causes• Create opportunity to explore and discover and take some chances• Good decisions make good decisions• Think critically• Expose adolescents to experiences
References• Nagel, M. C. (2005). Understanding the adolescent brain. In Pendergast, D. and Bahr, N. (Ed.), Teaching the middle years; rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment (pp. 65-76). NSW: Allen and Unwin.• Romeo, R. D. and McEwen, B.S. (2006). Stress and the adolescent brain. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1094:202- 214.• Steinberg, L. ( 2011). Demystifying the Adolescent Brain. Educational Leadership. April. pp. 41- 46.• Brizendine, L. (2011). The male brain. UK: Bantam Press.• Lenroot, R. K.and Giedd, J.N. (2010). Sex differences in the adolescent brain. Brain and Cognition 72: 46- 55.• McDevitt, T.M. and Ormrod, J.E. (2007). Child development and Education 3 rd Ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.• McInerney, D. M. and McInerney, V. (2002) Motivation for effectual learning: cognitive perspectives Educational Psychology 3rd Ed. NSW Australia: Prentice Hall.• Winters, K. C., and Arria, A. (2011). Adolescent brain development and drugs. The Prevention Researcher: April Vol 18 (2).• Rickwood, D., White, A. and Eckersley, R. (2007). Overveiw of current tends in mental health problems for Australia’s youth and adolescents. Clinical Psychologist, Vol 11, No. 3: 72-78.• Sousa, D. A. (2006). How the brain learns 3rd Ed. Victoria Australia: Hawker Brownlow Education.• Dahl, R.E. (2004). Adolescent Brain development: a period of vulnerabilities and opportunities. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1021: 1-22.