12 September 2007

Short List Wednesday

I recently listened to a parent describe one particular frustration with a teen. When it came time to get ready to go somewhere, the parent would tell the kid that they needed to leave in ten minutes...and before then, would the teen take out the trash, put the dog out, and get the laundry out of the dryer. Five minutes later, the teen was still sitting around playing video games. The parent was fit to be tied.

Teen brains are still growing. Frontal lobes don't always do what they should, which means that things like planning, remembering lists, and concepts of time don't fire on all cylinders. Giving a young teen a verbal to do list and a time limit is a recipe for disaster. (Meanwhile, other parts of the brain haven't developed enough to interpret the emotions shown on others' faces...so the kids can't even see that you're pissed off.)

In the classroom, when I have a "to do" list for kids, I keep it short, always visible, and try to smile in spite of gritted teeth every time I'm asked "What do I do next?"

The list for Wednesday is very short. There is only one item and it's easy to do because I'll include the link: go to the Carnival of Education. It is hosted this week by History Is Elementary and is the finest collection of posts to be found in the edusphere. Enjoy! (Okay, it's a two-item list.)


Anonymous said...

Come now, teens can't interpret emotions on others' faces? I'll grant that they're planning-deficient, but I'd say that's more a symptom of adolescent solipsism than anything to do with the developing abilities of their brains. Seems to me they just have a different focus.

The Science Goddess said...

Most of the psychological studies out there where people of various ages have been shown photographs of faces and then asked to name the emotion expressed show that teens just don't seem to get it. Certainly, they can pick up on mom, dad, or teacher being angry by voice tone or posture. But if you think they're going to see it in your face---most of them won't.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Here's some anecdotal evidence:

As a child and young teen, I couldn't discriminate between singing voices well enough to tell the difference between Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. Now it seems to be "child's play." :-)

I'm thinking all that discrimination requires lots and lots of experience to build the associations in the brain necessary for keen discrimination, and adolescents just haven't been around long enough in the give a damn mode to pick up on that stuff.

How's that for a plain language explanation? ;-)

Anonymous said...

What were we supposed to do again?

The Science Goddess said...

LOL, Intern. Such a smartass. Fortunately, I think that's an admirable quality. :)