A New Partnership to Make Developmentally Empathic Changes that Adolescents Need

A New Partnership to Make Developmentally Empathic Changes that Adolescents Need

For the past two years, I have been intrigued by what I have come to appreciate as a profoundly effective methodology for professional development for adults in schools, as well as in many other organizations, such as in businesses and healthcare institutions.

Two years ago, I witnessed the undeniable value of Critical Friends Groups ® in action during a visit the ACS Athens. Critical Friends Groups ® is a structured and highly engaging approach to faculty professional development in schools, and it is currently utilized in many independent and international schools throughout the US and around the world.

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College Decision Day: The Fallout of “The Great Brutal Culling”

College Decision Day: The Fallout of “The Great Brutal Culling”

The 2018 college admissions season is winding down, at least officially. The most selective colleges have made their decisions about whom they’ve accepted, waitlisted, and rejected. Now the students have to make their choices based on whatever options are now available to them.

May 1, also known as National College Decision (or Signing) Day, is the deadline for students to make deposits to attend the college of their choice. One might think that for these students—the ones whose “choice” coincides with their preferences — the stress of the college process would seem to be over.

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The Costs of High Expectations – Podcast Interview

The Costs of High Expectations – Podcast Interview

I was recently in Johannesburg, South Africa speaking at the Future of Diverse Learning Conference at the American International School where I met Will Richardson. Will and I began talking in depth about the bind we are in as educators, as parents, and even as a society when it comes to committing to our students. I was asked to be on Will’s Podcast, Modern Learners.

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Psychological Overuse Injuries: Expecting Adolescents to Think and Act Like Adults Before Their Brains Have Developed the Skills

Psychological Overuse Injuries: Expecting Adolescents to Think and Act Like Adults Before Their Brains Have Developed the Skills

This is the first of two posts devoted to executive skills in adolescents. In this first post, I focus on the role of executive functions and associated brain development – particularly as these functions/skills pertain to early adolescents enrolled in highly competitive schools – and the dangerous assumptions many educators and parents make about adolescents’ actual executive capacities in these ultra-competitive environments.

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The Heart of the Matter: The Adolescent Brain

The Heart of the Matter: The Adolescent Brain

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present to the faculty of a local independent school on the topic of the developing adolescent brain. Specifically, they were interested in how they could apply the findings of “The Heart of the Matter: The Adolescent Brain,” chapter five in my book, At What Cost: Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools.

Since the school had recently engaged a different speaker who had focused on the intense and competing pressures on students – and since several of this school’s administrators had read my book – they were eager to “home in” on the five recent neurobiological discoveries which I detail in that chapter. These discoveries provide indisputable, authoritative reasons for why any school faculty should strive to be more “developmentally empathic” in its overall approaches to educating their students.

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Expecting Our Kids to Behave Like Adults

Expecting Our Kids to Behave Like Adults

One of the constant concerns I hear from faculty members, administrators, counselors, and parents of adolescents from all around the world is “We expect them to think and act like adults.” This expectation arises not simply because so many of today’s adolescents, for various reasons, appear physically mature; it’s also because we, adults, assume that in their school lives, adolescent students are fully capable of appropriate “executive skills” in their school work, in their social lives, and in how they cope with the multiple and competing demands we place upon them.

We assume that adolescents are able to manage their time, prioritize homework, juggle athletic practices and community service with regular sleeping and eating, manage their social lives, and their online lives – and somehow, get straight A’s.

But these so-called “executive skills” are part and parcel of a host of neurological capacities that, generally, are not fully developed until humans are 30 years old! What are we missing here?

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