Scientific studies have shown that the brain process which makes teenagers independent is also the part which boosts their ability to learn.
During adolescence, teens begin to develop their independence. As it turns out, the brain kicks in to a “learning overdrive” at this time too. The adolescent brain may be trying to build a richer understanding of its surroundings during an important stage in life.
The study at Columbia University in New York monitored brain activity during learning exercises – nothing strange there. The findings showed increased activity in the part of the brain associated with memory – the hippocampus. Again, noting strange there.
However during the tests, random images of objects were displayed which had nothing to do with the learning exercises. It was reported that the adults knew of the insignificance, whereas the teenage participants tried to make a connection between the distractions and the learning.
Professor Daphna Shohamy, who conducted the research, said:
“What we can take from these results isn’t that teens necessarily have better memory, in general, but rather the way in which they remember is different.
By connecting two things that aren’t intrinsically connected, the adolescent brain may be trying to build a richer understanding of its surroundings during an important stage in life.”
So if your students seem overly ‘independent’ remember that their brains are trying to cope with a multitude of new information, and make sense of things that perhaps are best ignored. Perhaps you could introduce them to some independent learning to aid their progress in this stage of increased learning!