Among the more thought-provoking discoveries in the emerging science regarding the teen brain is the fact that the pace of brain development differs in males and females.
In her best-selling book, “The Teenage Brain,” Frances Jensen discusses how the part of the brain that processes information grows during childhood and then starts to pare down, reaching a peak level of cognitive development when girls are between 12 and 13 years old and when boys are 15 to 16 years old, generally speaking.
“The girls have a level of organization where they’re doing complex scheduling and social arrangements, and making lists,” Jensen said. “Meanwhile, boys at that same age, you’re lucky if they remember to bring their books home from school.”
That means boys and girls may be ready for challenging subjects — like complex math and science — at different points. It also could mean that schools are missing the right time to teach those subjects.
Schools ought to consider some gender-based curricula, Jensen said.
But beyond gender differences, if every student were given a neurological evaluation, educators would have powerful clues as to the best way to personalize learning, she said. “Brains are in such a different state from person to person, they should be taught differently,” she said.