Thomas Armstrong’s recent article in Education Week is worth reading. It offers good tips and suggestions for better engaging of adolescents in high school based on neuroscience research evidence.
For example, he writes, “Research indicates that while adolescents are able to reason like adults by the age of 15 or 16, they can do this only under “cold cognition” settings (e.g., where there is no emotional pull or peer influence). When they’re around their peers or in an emotionally charged situation (“hot cognition”), teens’ prefrontal-cortex functions don’t work as well, which is why a teenager will respond affirmatively to an anti-drug curriculum in the classroom, but then go out and smoke weed with his friends at night.
What is essential for kids at this time of life is to be engaged in real-life learning experiences and peer-learning connections that put them under conditions of “hot cognition,” where educators can help them along in the process of integrating their impulsiveness (positively viewed as excitement and motivation) with their reasoning abilities.
The implications for reform of secondary school are clear. Schools should provide more opportunities for students to be involved in apprenticeships, internships, service learning, community-based learning, small peer-learning groups, entrepreneur-based programs, and student-directed project-based learning. Courses need to be given in middle school and high school that teach students about how their brains work, how to use metacognition to direct their learning, and how to self-regulate their feelings under conditions of duress.”
Read it here:
Order his new book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain: Strategies for Teaching Middle and High School Students