Blame my Brain

25th November 2005 at 00:00
Blame my Brain: the amazing teenage brain revealed

By Nicola Morgan; Walker Books pound;8.99

Blame my Brain was written for teenagers, but teachers and parents can benefit from it. Not all young people find adolescence turbulent and challenging, but for those who do, Nicola Morgan explains why the brain might be to blame, drawing on the latest research.

All parents of teenagers will empathise with the first chapter, "Powerful Emotions". I only wish this book had been around when dealing with my own teenager's antisocial behaviour. So why do some go through such difficult times? As Nicola Morgan explains: "Adolescence is a period of huge and surprising physical change in the brain... maybe the pathways for sensible behaviour are just not working well."

The reason for this is the sudden growth of cells (neurons), which takes place just before puberty. During adolescence the connections which have been made are cut back; it is during this time that the parts of the brain do not appear to communicate with each other. Could this explain why the teenage years are associated with risk-taking? The sections on alcohol and drug abuse will support PSHE programmes in school, as well as offering useful websites.

Throughout the book Nicola Morgan returns to the theory that in order to learn we have to be willing to revisit what we have been taught: that the more often you complete a task, the stronger the connections, the better you will become at it. This is a good resource to share with students to help them deal with what is potentially the most challenging, but also the most exciting, period in their development.

Rosanne Bartlett is assistant headteacher at The Earls high school, Halesowen, West Midlands

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