Monday, March 25, 2013

Endless Adolescence

“We place kids in schools together with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other kids typically from similar economic and cultural backgrounds. We group them all within a year or so of one another in age. We equip them with similar gadgets, expose them to the same TV shows, lessons, and sports. We ask them all to take almost the exact same courses and do the exact same work and be graded relative to one another. We give them only a handful of ways in which they can meaningfully demonstrate their competencies. And then we’re surprised they have some difficulty establishing a sense of their own individuality.”  --- from Dr. Joe Allen's book Escaping the Endless Adolescence.

as reported in Po Bronson's blog Why teenagers are growing up so slowly today.

(Thanks to Kay Burkhalter for sending this along to me.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Teenagers and abstract thinking

Teenagers develop abstract thinking at different times.  Makes sense:  they don't all have a physical growth spurt at the same time, why should they have a cognitive growth sprurt simultaneously?

Most teachers don't accommodate this differential.

What might that look like? (from Shawn Cornally's blog Brain-based learning):

If we don't know what rung our students are on, it's very difficult to say which of the following two questions we should ask:
  1. How are gas prices affected by unrest in the various oil-producing regions of the world?
  2. How were gas prices affected during the Arab Spring in Egypt?
As a teacher, I like Question 1 better. It seems more open. It seems more, well, abstract. And to that student who has reached that rung on the ladder, he or she will be able to shine. Most teenagers can only be led there through Question 2 or something like it.

"It's time to do something, people."

Garr Reynolds introduces "a pep talk from Kid President" in his blog Presentation Zen.

Why be boring?  Boring is easy!