Wednesday, January 23, 2013

adolescent years - high school influence

via - why you never truly leave hs

“If you’re interested in making sure kids learn a lot in school, yes, intervening in early childhood is the time to do it,” says Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist at Temple University and perhaps the country’s foremost researcher on adolescence. “But if you’re interested in how people become who they are, so much is going on in the adolescent years.”
Our self-image from those years, in other words, is especially adhesive. So, too, are our preferences. 

just before adolescence, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that governs our ability to reason, grasp abstractions, control impulses, and self-­reflect—undergoes a huge flurry of activity, giving young adults the intellectual capacity to form an identity, to develop the notion of a self. Any cultural stimuli we are exposed to during puberty can, therefore, make more of an impression, because we’re now perceiving them discerningly and metacognitively as things to sweep into our self-concepts or reject (I am the kind of person who likes the Allman Brothers). “During times when your identity is in transition,” says Steinberg, “it’s possible you store memories better than you do in times of stability.” 
At the same time, the prefrontal cortex has not yet finished developing in adolescents. It’s still adding myelin, the fatty white substance that speeds up and improves neural connections, and until those connections are consolidated—which most researchers now believe is sometime in our mid-­twenties—the more primitive, emotional parts of the brain (known collectively as the limbic system) have a more significant influence. This explains why adolescents are such notoriously poor models of self-­regulation, and why they’re so much more dramatic—“more Kirk than Spock,” in the words of B. J. Casey, a neuroscientist at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. In adolescence, the brain is also buzzing with more dopamine activity than at any other time in the human life cycle, so everything an adolescent does—everything an adolescent feels—is just a little bit more intense. “And you never get back to that intensity,” says Casey. (The British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips has a slightly different way of saying this: “Puberty,” he writes, “is everyone’s first experience of a sentient madness.”) 

 yeah - but are these studies based on people who have been in school ? how is that telling us what's human/natural?

But not the adolescents. Whether they were pubescent mice or high-school students, the adolescents remained as fear-stricken as ever. Their systems remained on high alert, as if a threat were just around the corner.
These studies could have sobering implications. If, as the researchers say, adolescents have an exaggerated sense of fear when faced with certain triggers, isn’t it possible they could carry that exaggerated panic into adulthood, because they never developed the tools at the time to beat it back? 
i agree hs is not a good place.. but i don't know that i agree that hs age kids can't self-direct.
i don't know that we've left them to their own demise enough to tell. even unschoolers are tainted with the societal raising of the eyebrow.. as to what they are doing.. proof of their value.
In fact, one of the reasons that high schools may produce such peculiar value systems is precisely because the people there have little in common, except their ages. “These are people in a large box without any clear, predetermined way of sorting out status,” says Robert Faris, a sociologist at UC Davis who’s spent a lot of time studying high-school aggression. “There’s no natural connection between them.” Such a situation, in his view, is likely to reward aggression. Absent established hierarchies and power structures (apart from the privileges that naturally accrue from being an upperclassman), kids create them on their own, and what determines those hierarchies is often the crudest common-­denominator stuff—looks, nice clothes, prowess in sports—­rather than the subtleties of personality. “Remember,” says Crosnoe, who spent a year doing research in a 2,200-student high school in Austin, “high schools are big. There has to be some way of sorting people socially. It’d be nice if kids could be captured by all their characteristics. But that’s not realistic.” 
The result, unfortunately, is a paradox: Though adolescents may want nothing more than to be able to define themselves, they discover that high school is one of the hardest places to do it.  
“Shame,” says Brené Brown, a researcher at the University of Houston, “is all about unwanted identities and labels. And I would say that for 90 percent of the men and women I’ve interviewed, their unwanted identities and labels started during their tweens and teens.”  
have added a lot of Brene's voice from this article here.  - at the bottom

Winnie Holzman, the creator of My So-Called Life. “In high school,” she wrote, “we become pretty convinced that we know what reality is: We know who looks down on us, who is above us, exactly who our friends and our enemies are.” The truth of the matter, wrote Holzman, is that we really have no clue. “[W]hat seems like unshakable reality,” she concluded, “is basically just a story we learned to tell ourselves.
Faris’s research on aggression in high-school students may help account for this gap between reputation and self-­perception. One of his findings is obvious: The more concerned kids are with popularity, the more aggressive they are. 
but isn't this more a result of attachment issues (Mate) - nothing really to do so much with age or with in or out of high school.
i'm afraid we're assuming stuff, simply because we've assumed the rules of public ed so much..
perhaps not natural at all, perhaps no way to tell what is.. till we detox from the system.

It’s also abundantly, poignantly clear that during puberty, kids have absolutely no clue how to assess character or read the behavior of others. In 2005, the sociologist Koji Ueno looked at one of the largest samples of adolescents in the United States, and found that only 37 percent of their friendships were reciprocal—meaning that when respondents were asked to name their closest friends, the results were mutual only 37 percent of the time. One could argue that this heartbreaking statistic is just further proof that high school is a time of unrequited longings. But these statistics also suggest that teenagers cannot tell when they are being rejected (Hey, guys, wait for me!) or even accepted (I thought you hated me). So much of what they think they know about others’ opinions of them is plain wrong.
oof - It’s also abundantly, poignantly clear that during puberty, kids have absolutely no clue how to assess character or read the behavior of others. 
or perhaps - this is only clear with kids who have lived in a society that is schooled. no?
perhaps Pentland's sociometer wouldn't even be needed if we hadn't trained natural-ness out of people.

 “It’s not adolescence that’s the problem,” insists Faris. “It’s the giant box of strangers.”
that perhaps we create with the current structure of public ed. no?
Maybe, perversely, we should be grateful that high school prepares us for this life. The isolation, the shame, the aggression from those years—all of it readies us to cope. But one also has to wonder whether high school is to blame; whether the worst of adult America looks like high school because it’s populated by people who went to high school in America. We’re recapitulating the ugly folkways of this institution, and reacting with the same reflexes, because that’s where we were trapped, and shaped, and misshaped, during some of our most vulnerable years.
ah. yes.
High school itself does something to us, is the point. We bear its stripes. Last October, the National Bureau of Economic Research distributed a study showing a compelling correlation between high-school popularity—measured by how many “friendship nominations” each kid received from their peers—and future earnings in boys. Thirty-five years later, the authors estimated, boys who ranked in the 80th percentile of popularity earned, on average, 10 percent more than those in the 20th. 
this is so crazy. school has taught us this ranking. why study this? imagine if we spent less time researching popularity and more time living full lives.

And adolescent popularity is predictive beyond them,” she says, “which tells me this is about more than just personality. It’s about interpersonal relations. High school is when you learn how to master social relationships—and to understand how, basically, to ‘play the game.’ ” Or don’t. Joseph Allen and his colleagues at the University of Virginia just found that kids who suffer from mild depression at 14, 15, and 16 have worse odds in the future—in romance, friendship, competency assessments by outsiders—even if their depression disappears and they become perfectly happy adults. “Because that’s their first template for adult interaction,” says Allen when asked to offer an explanation. “And once they’re impaired socially, it carries forward.”
yeah - this is all based on how we've chosen to live the last several hundred years. not based on the potential of a human.
imagine we spend more time working on attachment and authenticity. then perhaps much of this wouldn't even be a relevant topic of conversation. no?
We’d all grown more gracious; many of us had bloomed; and it was strangely moving to be among people who all shared this shameful, grim, and wild common bond. I found myself imagining how much nicer it’d have been to see all those faces if we hadn’t spent our time together in that redbrick, linoleum-­tiled perdition. Then again, if we hadn’t—if we’d been somewhere more benign—I probably wouldn’t have cared.
or.. perhaps we would care more. because rather than having this shamful/grim/wild bond, we'd have a bond of doing what mattered most. together. perhaps we wouldn't need facebook to find each other.. because we would have never left.