From the Principal

This week we have a special guest introduction from Brett Trollope, Head of Boys’ Middle School.

The teenage brain is an amazing thing; however, it is a long way from its potential! Parts of it are even in shutdown during adolescence (some parents may say all of it), but it is developing, growing and wiring itself at an incredible rate.

The main changes that occur during adolescence is the brain deciding which parts it requires most and which parts it can do without – like a ‘use it or lose it’ type principle. This process begins from the back of the brain first, before moving to the front, leaving the prefrontal cortex to be one of the last parts to develop. This part of the brain is where our rational decision-making, thinking and planning is done. Because of this redevelopment, and therefore the inability to use this part of their brain effectively, teenagers often rely on their amygdala for their decision-making. The amygdala is the part of our brain responsible for emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behaviour. I think you can see where I am going.

Being a teenager is tough, but being a parent of a teenager is no walk in the park either. It is during this stage that the relationship between families and schools is crucial so that we can all work together to help raise our boys into fine young men for the future.

A big focus in the Boys’ Middle School is on ‘personal brand’: who you are as a person and what you wish people to associate with you when they think of your name. The common example I refer to with our boys is them applying for a job at a fast food outlet or the local supermarket. They have developed a desire to earn money and therefore the motivation to go and work. Upon completion of appropriate CVs they set off to apply at these relevant places of work often with the assumption that by the end of next week they will be earning some good money. The problem they face is that there are potentially 200 other boys and girls with the same idea, the same wish – they all want that part-time job collecting trolleys or stacking shelves. So how do our boys make sure they are the ones offered the opportunity to work?

Passion, enthusiasm and determination are all traits that aren’t regularly reflected in school assessments, however, they are traits that can help people achieve success in their chosen areas. Our boys are encouraged to demonstrate passion for things, to show a level of determination in their actions and exhibit enthusiasm for life and learning.

Projects throughout the Middle Years that are helping our boys to develop these attributes alongside our curriculum are things such as our Night of the Notables at Year 7, the Smoothie Bar (http://www.tripod.edu.au/program/the-smoothie-bar-senior/) at Year 8 and our Becoming a Man at Year 9 to name just three. Opportunities like these help our boys to develop the skills and traits mentioned above by allowing them to pursue areas of interest such as idols, food and money!

When our boys are able to follow their passion or areas of interest, parts of their brain that were potentially in ‘shutdown’ mode have the potential of finding some hidden connections and therefore the ability to produce some really amazing things. Watching the teenage brain develop and grow over time is really a fascinating thing.

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