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To everyone who joined these forums at some point, and got discouraged by the negativity and left after a while (or even got literally scared off): I'm sorry.

I wasn't good enough at encouraging people to be kinder, and removing people who refuse to be kind. Encouraging people is hard, and removing people creates conflict, and I hate conflict... so that's why I wasn't better at it.

I was a very, very sensitive teen. The atmosphere of this forum as it is now, if it had existed in 1996, would probably have upset me far more than it would have helped.

I can handle quite a lot of negativity and even abuse now, but that isn't the point. I want to help people. I want to help the people who need it the most, and I want to help people like the 1996 version of me.

I'm still figuring out the best way to do that, but as it is now, these forums are doing more harm than good, and I can't keep running them.

Thank you to the few people who have tried to understand my point of view so far. I really, really appreciate you guys. You are beautiful people.

Everyone else: If after everything I've said so far, you still don't understand my motivations, I think it's unlikely that you will. We're just too different. Maybe someday in the future it might make sense, but until then, there's no point in arguing about it. I don't have the time or the energy for arguing anymore. I will focus my time and energy on people who support me, and those who need help.

-SoulRiser

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inside the teen brain
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xcriteria Offline
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inside the teen brain

There have been some studies, especially over the past year or two, comparing brain structure and function between teens and adults.

A great deal of related studies are described at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...teenbrain/ along with full video of the PBS Frontline episode on this topic. (I suggest checking out other Frontline episodes/pages, as they cover some pretty interesting topics.)

There are a lot of valuable points discussed, but some of the results are given twisted or misleading interpretations. For example, the variation between teens isn't given much attention; they're grouped together by age at best. That's ridiculous when there's such a range of traits, intelligence, knowledge, experience, interests, temperament, etc. Also, they sort of gloss over the role of the teens' conscious efforts, what they intentionally do; I mean that's not incorporated well into the analyses.

Anyway, like the articles on http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...rain/work/ and the other subsections of that site are worth looking at, and it would be great to integrate the facts and legitimate ideas from those studies into some of the perspectives on this site. An advantage of this research is that it brings us closer to being able to pinpoint the existence of "educational malpractice."

Also, teens may be able to use this research to advocate for their need for changes to curriculum and instructional methods.

From http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...giedd.html
"In the frontal part of the brain, the part of the brain involved in judgment, organization, planning, strategizing -- those very skills that teens get better and better at -- this process of thickening of the gray matter peaks at about age 11 in girls and age 12 in boys, roughly about the same time as puberty."

"After that peak, the gray matter thins as the excess connections are eliminated or pruned. So much of our research is focusing on trying to understand what influences or guides the building-up stage when the gray matter is growing extra branches and connections and what guides the thinning or pruning phase when the excess connections are eliminated."

"I think the exuberant growth during the pre-puberty years gives the brain enormous potential. The capacity to be skilled in many different areas is building up during those times. What the influences are of parenting or teachers, society, nutrition, bacterial and viral infections -- all these factors -- on this building-up phase, we're just beginning to try to understand. But the pruning-down phase is perhaps even more interesting, because our leading hypothesis for that is the "Use it or lose it" principle. Those cells and connections that are used will survive and flourish. Those cells and connections that are not used will wither and die."

"So if a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hard-wired. If they're lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going [to] survive. "

So, what if the student is locked into doing worthless assignments that don't even begin to tap their brain's potential? That potential gets pruned away, while they languish in class.

Hopefully, through a combination of getting feedback from students as to what they find appropriately challenging (in an interesting way), and the results that neuroscience is beginning to show us, it will be possible to establish more forceful arguments in favor of better-designed assignments. And I think a big part of that has to involve substantial learner choice in what they learn.

This could be discussed at length; it takes a while to begin to figure out the details of all the neuroscience terms and concepts, but once some are learned, they can be applied to explaining more precisely what boredom is, vs. what learning is.

Comments?

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12-25-2005 10:17 PM
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Aya Offline
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xcriteria Wrote:So, what if the student is locked into doing worthless assignments that don't even begin to tap their brain's potential? That potential gets pruned away, while they languish in class.

You know what I've learned from my school experiance? No matter how much gets pruned away in the classroom, you can always regain it. Try foriegn language for example. I almost failed Spanish my third year, then I decided to take a break from it. After awhile I decided that it was good to have for work since there were alot of hispanics at the time. So I picked it up again. Not only have I mastered the language faster than the school could've taught me, but my French is coming to me easier, becuase of my abilities in Spanish.
12-26-2005 02:01 AM
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retardhick Offline
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if the hispanics are coming here, i think that we shouldnt be forced to learn there language.
12-26-2005 03:59 AM
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xcriteria Offline
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I've had the same experience with foreign language... I learned almost no Spanish in several years through middle and high school, but in my early 20's when I set out to learn some of several languages on my own, I've learned a lot more German and at least as much French; if I focused on Spanish I could do the same. However, if I was using the methods a decade ago that I've used more recently (self-directed learning, and actually chatting in the languages I'm trying to learn) I would have done a lot better earlier.

With German, I've found that I've learned best by reading simple novels, and struggling to figure out the words as I encounter them... somehow the stories provide motivation, and I can pick up a lot from the context as I go along without looking up everything, and I simply seem to have better ability with written text than with listening and speaking. By starting with what I'm strongest in, I can then build more easily skills in other areas. In contrast, they'd never hand out a novel in the early stages of language instruction in school; as I recall it was just a dribble of terms, which is totally not how I absorb information well.

The brain retains substantial "synaptic plasticity" well into adulthood, and probably up to death. That is, connections can be rewired, in ways that result in functional changes in what brain areas are activated for tasks. How that relates to adolescent brain development, and learning generally, would be interesting to learn more about... I've read some relevant studies like Increased prefrontal and parietal activity after training of working memory (Olsesen, et al.)

Neural plasticity in the ageing brain. (Burke & Barnes; Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2006), which I haven't read, indicates that there is "considerable age-related decline" in certain plasticity related brain functions.

The adolescent pruning is still of significance, though. I maintain that although it's certainly never to late to start applying one's self to learning, the fact that learning is actively blocked, or not effectively supported, in much formal education is still harmful and unfortunate.

Furthermore, it's been suggeted that boredom can exacerbate mental illness (Boredom and psychotic disorders: cognitive and motivational issues; Todman, Psychiatry, 2003) and it's been shown elsewhere to precipitate substance abuse.

My basic point is that there are neurological consequences, good or bad, of the situations people go through during development, and of the learning methods they used. I think I was hit especially hard by much of my developmental time not being used effectively, though I've been able to make a quite significant recovery. It's a hassle though, to have to be fixing basic mental functioning, at a time when one is expected to be functioning fully at work, etc.

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12-26-2005 04:02 AM
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Aya Offline
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retardhick Wrote:if the hispanics are coming here, i think that we shouldnt be forced to learn there language.

I had to fight to take Spanish in 7th grade. They wanted to keep me in the language arts. My teacher and I struck a compromise; I would go into Spanish but I would stay in the lower math.
12-26-2005 04:42 AM
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Asder Miller The Second Offline
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inside the teen brain

BUMP

School isnt as bad as you think
12-29-2012 02:14 PM
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RammsteinFearFactory Offline
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inside the teen brain

MTV does not sharpen brain cells turn that shit off and put on something that doesn't just discuss pregnancy.

[Image: adhd_mild.gif]
12-30-2012 09:56 AM
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IronicallyNamelessUser9 Offline
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inside the teen brain

Does social media play a role in the wiring/pruning age?

school is about as fruitful as a dead apple tree.
01-01-2016 10:57 PM
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