Giving Compass' Take:

• Getting Smart reviews Sarah-Jayne Blakemore's book Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, and assesses how the neurological insight contained therein can be used to improve high school education.

• Among the takeaways: personalized learning and open-ended problems (rather than rote recall) may be more effective as teaching tools. Those in the education space — and parents of adolescents — should pick up a copy of the book!

• And don't underestimate teen activism. Here's how young people are moving the needle on gun violence prevention.

Societal perceptions of the dramatic, risk-taking, friend-obsessed, petulant teenagers are pervasive. Adolescents are often characterized as a confounding and almost alien population by adults. And this narrative is disseminated through the production of music, movies, television shows, and other productions aimed at teenagers themselves. In both personal and educational circles, the time period of adolescence is tolerated at best and full of dread, agony, and profound risk at worst.

In Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore uses neuroscience to push back on these long-held negative perceptions to reframe adolescence as a unique and actually productive developmental period. Blakemore puts this research into a historical context, explaining that it is only recently — within the last couple decades — that scientists have realized that the human brain continues to develop past childhood. She uses evidence from the growing body of research gained through modern MRI imaging to explain that the behaviors often associated with teenagers, and dismissed as inappropriate and aberrant, make sense given the physiological and cognitive developmental changes happening in the brain during this time.

She uses new research and subsequent understandings of brain development to help explore the underpinnings of the negative stereotypes. Getting beyond the fearful tropes and cultural memes of negativity by clinically examining the underlying behaviors and biological processes, she offers insight and background on adolescent development.

A clear set of findings is laid out that contextualizes this time as one with specific features, full of opportunity, that is essential to healthy adulthood.

Read the full article about "The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain" by Erin Gohl at Getting Smart.