the adolescent brain

This article from today’s Globe and Mail discusses a book by Robert Epstein, the former editor of Psychology Today, which claims that the psychology of “adolescence” has no basis in biology or neurology, but is socially constructed – that adolescents are, at the biological base, intellectually and emotionally no different from adults.

This strikes me as hooey, but intriguing hooey. I may try to get a hold of this book. In the meantime, I may use this article as a point for discussion in my class on novels about adolescence. I’m very interested in what my students (and you) would have to say about 14-year-olds voting, driving, drinking and signing mortgages.

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6 responses

  1. Young people differ one from another, just as must as adults do. The issue here is not whether ALL 14 year olds should be voting but rather whether ALL 14 year olds are automatically incompetent to vote. The Dalai Lama, after all, was fully in charge of Tibet at age 15. My book is all about competence, individual differences, and the blanket denial of civil rights based solely on age. Yes, please do read the book! Cordially, /re

  2. Thank you very much for your response, Dr. Epstein. (What a surprise!) Yes, I will track down your book rather than basing my response on a single newspaper article, and I encourage others to do so as well; your premise is significant for any of us who work with adolescents.

  3. John Taylor Gatto talks a lot about this. I cant remember what he said exactly, but he gave evidence to show that a purpose of schooling is to prolong childhood. He then lists many famous people from history who accomplished great things at around 11. Often I think you get from people what you expect. If you expect 11 year old to behave like children they probably will.

    I’m sure when I was 15-17 my brain was much sharper, I never once walked into the kitchen and wondered why I was there. At 27 this is all too common. the difference is I have a lot more experience so perhaps Im less intelligent but more wise?

  4. Interesting. There is also a lot of movement right now in the opposite direction, research that claims that the adolescent brain is significantly physically different from the adult brain, and that the “adult” brain isn’t even fully formed until the mid-twenties. So clearly there’s still a lot of work to be done in this area…

  5. I should say that I’m the guy from “on education” but the Lebanon blog was my first so it appears in my wordpress comments 🙂

    Im Dave, thanks for all your comments 🙂

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