BOLD blog in brief

What can brain development tell us about why adolescents tend to be risk-takers, and what can we do to break the cycle of anxiety and low achievement in maths? Writers and researchers explore these questions on BOLD in February.

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Adolescence is a transitional time in human brain development which combines a propensity to take risks with still immature cognition and self-control, explains Laurence Steinberg in the first episode of the new BOLD podcast. This process, which is also found in other mammals, serves an evolutionary purpose to spur adolescents and young adults to move out into the world. Steinberg suggests that educating adolescents about the dangers of risk-taking may not be as effective as controlling their environment to limit opportunities to engage in risky behaviour. Listen to the BOLD podcast here, or find it on a variety of platforms.

The link between maths anxiety and achievement is a troubling one that can be found in high- and low-income countries alike, say researchers Lindsey Richland and Emma Naslund-Hadley. In this article, Annie Brookman-Byrne discusses the self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety lowering performance and low performance creating more anxiety. Maths anxiety also evolves over time and can be transferred from adults to students, which suggests early interventions that involve teachers and parents could help. To raise achievement in mathematics, Richland urges tackling the anxiety “… to help the child associate mathematics with joy from an early age.” Read more here.

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Digital platform on Learning and Development, Jacobs Foundation