Adolescence is an exciting time as teenagers become increasingly independent, begin to look forward to their lives beyond high school, and undergo many physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. In that last category, teenagers can learn to take charge of their developing brains and steer their thinking in positive and productive directions toward future college and career success.
brain’s prefrontal cortex, which functions as the control center for
executive functions such as planning, goal setting, decision making, and
problem solving, undergoes significant changes during the teenage
years. In an NPR interview, Laurence Steinberg, author of Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence,
notes that ages 12 to 25 are a period of extraordinary neuroplasticity.
“Science suggests that it’s important for kids to be challenged and
exposed to novelty in order to facilitate healthy development of brain
systems that are important for things like self-regulation,” Steinberg
The potential that comes from neuroplasticity—the
capacity to change the structure and function of the brain through
learning—provides the foundation for two crucial messages for middle and
high school students:
1 They have the capacity
to become functionally smarter. By their early teens, many youths have
already formed an image of themselves as intellectually capable—or not.
It’s important to emphasize for students in the latter group that past
school performance need not be a predictor of future outcomes, if they
are willing to persist in the hard work that may be required when
learning gets challenging.
2 Success in school
is largely determined by the learning strategies students employ, and
not by some innate talent for academics. Students across the continuum
of current performance can learn and improve effective problem-solving
and study skills to nudge their grades in a positive direction.
Read the entire post at Edutopia.com.