A new study reported on in the journal Psychological Science reports that high school students who were given a simple reading and writing exercise at the beginning of the school year designed to communicate the idea that social traits are not fixed but can change over time, were better able to meet stressful situations than a control group. In my opinion this study suggests that incoming students in middle or high school should attend an orientation program where they learn about the importance of having a ”growth mindset” and get information about the dramatic changes going on in their brains so they can understand and interpret what’s going on both inside themselves and also in their social relationships with peers, teachers, and parents. We use to have physical ”hygiene” classes (maybe we still do). Now we need ”mental hygiene” classes to give teenagers skills, tools, and resources for managing the many uncertainties, stresses, and challenges they face both inside and outside of school.
For more information about the connections between recent adolescent development research and the need for secondary school reforms, see my book The Power of the Adolescent Brain: Strategies for Teaching Middle and High School Students.