Monday, January 11, 2010

Teen Brains

I was doing some research for a new client and I stumbled on this article. It was one of many that mentioned the teen brain as unique, rather than just an adult brain with less miles.

The teenage brain is more responsive to the world around them which may help them learn and retain faster than their tired parents - it may also make them susceptible to negative stimuli, like stress and likely to experiment with drugs (this strikes a personal chord). Read Why Teens are Impulsive - Risk Takers. On the same page is a link to a newer set of findings. New mapping seems to suggest that risk taking teens may have an advantage over those more passive. Read More. Which just goes to show you that the braniacs have only the tiniest glimpse of whats really going on. Still, it may help us understand what makes our kids tick and that can't hurt - can it?

This new information may help us transform the old high school model into a place that serves this kind of brain a little better. Do our teens have a chance to positively create using that impulsiveness? How can we turn risk into possibilities? What part of high school French or Algebra allows them to tap into that trigger fine receptive brain and explore those concepts in the world around them? I sat in high school - I sat, and I sat, and I sat - listening but rarely invited to 'do'. I did my time - Erik is doing his time.

I was listening to NPR - Madeleine Brand was talking to author Daniel Pink about his latest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The gist - 'given more autonomy in their jobs, the rewards for both employee and employer are enormous.' In the course of the conversation he described the process of a four year old exploring the world. A four year old doesn't really identify when he is learning or when he is playing - he is just interested, and in the moment and so learning and growing from the experience. We cowl our kids - institutionalize them - teach one dimensionally.

It was ironic because Erik has been trying to beat this into my brain for about a year now - he does not at all respond to scheduling creativity. He dispises dates or schedules and as soon as anyone tries to impose them, he resists. But he'll spend hours trying to achieve on his terms. This has been very frustrating for me - and his math teacher! But Pink's conversation made me stop and think - and coupled with the new brain imaging information, it made me really attempt to adjust the angle at which I try to engage with Erik.

So if Erik never learns to conform does this mean he will never achieve? God, I think of all the interviews of all those really creative people talking about the hell of high school and I think, this is bullshit - if Erik is driven - he will acheive. I need to give him the space to find it - whatever 'it' is.

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