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Learning & Education

Between puberty and the mid-20s, our brains undergo substantial changes in structure, function, and connectivity. This restructuring creates remarkable opportunities for learning, even mitigating effects from earlier adverse experiences.

Our sensitivity to reward, willingness to take risks, and attention to social status all increase during our adolescent years, motivating us to explore new environments and relationships. We become more active agents in our own learning and development. In middle school and high school, we are “super-learners,” especially primed to learn from real-life, hands-on experiences.

As we discover the widening world around us, we need developmentally appropriate support, including rich environments that encourage safe exploration and experimentation.

Of course, structural inequalities such as disparities in school quality and family resources as well as racial and ethnic discrimination mean that not all youth have the same opportunities. We as a society have to work to ensure that all young people have what they need to fuel the essential social and academic learning that will propel them to thriving adulthoods.

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