Many adults simply cannot understand why teenagers, even those who seem grounded and smart, engage in such reckless behavior. Gopnik shares results from recent studies from Cornell Medical College's Sackler Institute, which suggest that teenagers may engage in risky behavior because they are more satisfied by rewards than are adults. Evidence suggests that while they understand risk, taking chances feels worth the jeopardy in which they may place themselves. Particularly rewarding are perceived social benefits.
Pointing to the importance of experience in building up the frontal lobe, Gopnik suggests that additional schooling, such as extra instructional time, is not the answer. She’d like to see students engage in more apprentice-like experiences outside of school to give them opportunities to experience learning outside of the classroom. Teenagers need practice shouldering responsibilities in a supported environment so that they can make mistakes and learn from them.
Photo used under Creative Commons by Michael Robinson