Dear ISN Parents,
With the Christmas season fast-approaching, Santa’s elves in the form of dedicated ISN PTA members have been hard at work decorating the school to help get everyone into the Christmas spirit, and the Christmas Fete is just around the corner. We do hope that all of you will participate in this wonderful annual event. The students have been hard at work preparing their parts for the show, and it promises to be a fun evening for all, with food and beverages and Christmas carols, and fun activities organized for the students.
“What teachers need to know about the teenage brain.”
This week I ran across an article entitled “What teachers need to know about the teenage brain.” I was particularly intrigued by the byline: “Renowned neuroscientist professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore explains the inner workings of the adolescent brain.” How many of us as parents wouldn’t just love to understand the workings of our teenagers’ brains! Having read the article, I think the title was maybe a bit over-stated, but there were nevertheless some good reminders and takeaways, the most important one being to treat teenagers as adolescents rather than as adults. As professor Blakemore states,
Masses of research from my lab and other labs has shown that the prefrontal cortex and functions that rely on the prefrontal cortex – like planning and decision-making and thinking about the consequences of actions – all these behaviours and the brain regions they rely on are undergoing a very protracted, slow and substantial change in adolescence…. Yet, what I find interesting is that once a child looks more like an adult, then we do place quite high expectations on them to do all their own planning, to make all their own decisions and to make the right decisions.
At ISN, we do our best to remember this and to accompany the students (and their parents) along their learning path through school, rather than just assuming that “We’ve explained it; therefore, they should ‘get it’ and act upon it,” and I am sure that many of you at home are taking the same approach. For us, the mission to Inspire, Support and Nourish our students is not just empty rhetoric; this is what our teachers try to do on a daily basis. Blakemore goes on in her article to say,
When you're interacting with very young children, you do not expect them to act like adults, you do not expect them to be rational and you know they have a very underdeveloped brain and you would not expect them to make their own decisions and plan their own day. Of course, teenagers’ brains are much more developed than young children’s brains, but they are still not fully adult yet. We need to remember that.*
So, if you have the joy of having one or more teenagers at home, take time to reflect on the fact that they are still developing and they do need your ongoing support, even though they may look very much like adults and act very independently.
I would like to thank all of you who have been taking time out of your busy schedules to participate in the ongoing “coffee mornings” that we have held for each of the grades this semester. In a meeting that we had with the Grade 12 parents this week in which we discussed everything from mock exam preparation to university applications, one of the parents summed it up at the end with “How complicated all of this seems to be!” Getting adolescents successfully through the IBDP programme can be quite complex and stressful, and the purpose of these meetings is to keep you informed of what your children are doing so that you as parents can be involved as well in supporting your children in their learning.
I look forward to seeing all of you on Friday afternoon at the Winter Fete!
With best wishes,
David Johnson, ISN Director
*For the full article by Professor Blakemore, see this page