The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Blurred Lines. A Joint Responsibility.

We regularly mention the concept that educating a child is a combined effort between home and school.  It is true, we are so much better working as a team than individually.  Critically, our boys need us to be working as a team.

In the human brain, the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) is the issue.  It is not ready to do what we need it to do for our early adolescent boys.  The PFC is the part that helps us manage our behaviour, it's the bit that says to us; stop a moment and think about what you are about to do or say.  It is our executive functioning skills centre.  It's our Social Media Watch Dog, it is our Pause Button.  The PFC's influence, or not, on our decision making is monumental.

In Adolescence, the PFC is still in its early phase of development.  Medical research indicates the PFC is not fully developed in males until about 25 years of age.  At 11- 14 years of age our students are using the Amygdala, the emotional control centre of their brains to make decisions because the PFC is not fully operational.  It is why when a boy gets into trouble and we ask him; 'What were you thinking?' the truth is they probably weren't, they were simply acting on emotional impulse.

If we lay adolescent brain development and brain usage alongside the highly attractive and addictive world of online gaming and the lure of social media interaction, we can see the potential for some really hurtful scenarios.  Both gaming and social media platforms rely on and cultivate emotion to participate, encouraging adolescents to live, act and converse with minimal regulation and without the benefit of seasoned decision-making skills.

We know that online gaming and social media conversations are a 24/7 activity, they are like cities that don't sleep.  We know this when we look at internet browser histories and see activity at 2am, 3am, 4am.  We see this in the morning when we look at our son's phone and see Instagram posts arriving all through the night.

The blurred line title reference is we know that what happens at school or home influences behaviour in both settings.  Next Tuesday, 25 June we have the ySafe Parent Presentation for Year 7 & 8 parents, delivered by Clinical Psychologist Jordan Foster.  This coincides with an incursion during the school day, where Jordan will be presenting to the Year 7 and 8 boys.  Jordan has presented this powerful session for the last three years for us.  It will be an eye-opening look at adolescent life in the online world and what we as teachers and parents need to do to help our children be safe until their executive reasoning, their PFC, begins helping them out a bit more.  I am encouraging all of my teaching staff who have not been to one of Jordan's session to attend.  It is part of the united front we need to form to support our students.  The parent presentation will be held in the Memorial Hall Lecture Theatre 6:30pm – 8.00pm.  To register your attendance please use this link