The Learning Renaissance

Some Key Developmental Factors in Adolescent Learners… Ignore Them At Your Peril!

how the mind of a middle schooler works


Teenagers can be annoying, can’t they just!

Daydreaming, emotionally charged, refusing to sit still and just listen…  the list is endless, as any teacher will tell you.

However, if you move away from the individual and examine things using a different perspective, their attitudes and behaviours become more understandable.

The teenage years are a time of great physical, cognitive, intellectual and emotional development and it is that hormonal soup that explains the teenager experience.

I was grateful to Brain Waves Instruction for this infographic which introduces the topic nicely.

Few schools take these profound developmental changes in their teenage pupils into account in curriculum planning, it is often left to the more perceptive class teachers to design short-burst activities and to encourage pupils to move around the room whilst learning. Too often these teachers are seen as being idiosyncratic, rather than trying to accommodate  known developmental  issues.

I am minded of a learning community in the North East of England at Cramlington, which tried to accommodate the fact that teenagers do not operate at full potential in the early mornings and would prefer to have a lie-in, in tune with what we know about their sleep needs. The school adjusted the timetable so that these pupils school day started later. The response in the national press might have been to commend them for their innovative thinking; instead, they were pilloried for pandering to the desires of lazy children and failing to instil the discipline needed for the world of work!

That’s the press for you… never let the science get in the way of a good knee-jerk headline!

We need some serious debate in education linking neuroscience research to the design of learning in schools.


About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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