“Not right in the head”: How should teachers assess new talk about teenagers?
Recently in New Zealand the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor has warned of changing circumstances creating a “powder keg” during adolescence, another top government advisor is reported as claiming young people’s behaviour problems are the country’s “biggest social issue”, and the catchphrase of a parenting series on national television has been that teenagers are best understood as “not right in the head”. Perhaps it is unsurprising that surveys have been reporting high levels of teacher stress and increasing levels of abuse and assault. Should secondary teaching therefore be considered a dubious career choice and a mass exodus from the profession anticipated? With regard to the implications for those whose lives continue to meet and mix in schools, this paper critically examines some of the local and overseas “expert talk” inspired by key features of scientific assertions regarding the changing nature of physical and cognitive development in adolescence.
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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015