Monday, October 24, 2011

Beautifully Risk-Taking Teenage Brains!

Whether we’ve raised teenagers or not, we’ve all been one, and we all know what a contradictory, risky, sometimes reckless and often confusing time it can be! We may also have plenty of explanations for why the teenage years are so emotional, unruly and rebellious, - in fact throughout history opinions have abounded about the ‘coming of age’ period when we. literally and figuratively, stretch ourselves into adulthood. Having been a very moody and defiant teenager myself – well into my twenties -I’ve always had an interest in every single rationale I’ve come across, yet there’s one thing that’s bothered me about most of the current attitudes to the teenage years; the negativity and disapproval so often ingrained in the very expectations of youth. Now I’m happy to note, there’s brain research that gives us not only logical reasons why teens think and behave they way they tend to do, but it highlights the positive significance and even necessity of their often reckless risk taking, pointing to the creativity, innovation, ‘thinking-outside-the-box’ and other qualities that comes with being a teen – and what it has meant for the survival of our species. If you haven’t read about it yet, you can in this National Geographic article at
It’s worth the read!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Child-Driven Learning Does it Again!

I have just had what you might call a mind-altering experience – a view I thought would stay the same has shifted. Let me explain. As you may know if you’ve read my earlier posts, I have been somewhat concerned about the time children today spend interacting with computers (rather than live people). I have been most concerned about the effect this appears to have on their development, in particular relationship skills and social intelligence. Amazingly, although not exactly allaying my concern, research I recently came across certainly gives me a wider perspective! The research in question has been done by education scientist Sugata Mitra, who found (after years of studies) that when children independently use computers and most specifically the internet, in groups – that is, without adult supervision and in combination with inter-personal interaction with their peers – not only does their learning capacity significantly increase but education itself is taken to a whole new level! Additional benefits that have emerged from Mitra’s studies - for communities and indeed for our ‘global wellness’ – are intriguing.  I am fascinated. If you haven’t come across it, check it out. It's a TED talk, so not too long and most entertaining.