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Risk versus Reward

I currently have two teenager boys  living at home, so I am constantly reminded of the risk taking behaviors of adolescents.  But now it seems,  according to new research on the teenage brain, that this risk taking behavior is actually an evolutionarily developed advantage for helping the teen transition from the safe home life to the “big, bad world” out there. In fact, according to author David Dobbs in the October 2011 National Geographic, the teen risk-loving behaviors are not the result of the “puny brain” or “work in progress”  brain, but rather the “result of teens weighing risk versus reward differently than adults. ” (pg. 54) Reward can often involve the elevation of status among their friends.  So today, I am looking at my two sons differently. I am figuring out more rewards that I can offer them for “smart decisions.”  I am also pondering why so many middle and high school teachers use punishment rather than reward to motivate teens.   Even on days like today, where I spent most of my time in my studio creating jewelry, I am also thinking about education.  I am as passionate about the right way of teaching as I am about creating jewelry.

Here are my designs today and here are my wishes for teachers of teenagers.

1) Please don’t belittle teens (especially not in front of their peers)

2)Please don’t automatically assume they are lying, cheating or stealing.

3) Please allow them to explain why they are not cooperating, not completing the work or not paying attention to you.

4) Please try to motivate the teens with interesting and relevant assignments

5) Please learn about the teenage brain so you understand what motivates them and what doesn’t

6) Please take a risk and try to be different than most teachers of teenagers and I guarantee the rewards will be great.  Believe me, I know.  I am still in touch with many of my former students who rewarded me with their love and attention while I was teaching them and continue to reward me by staying in touch.

 

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