Brain scans of adolescents show that their brains are far from being mature. Brain development continues into adulthood and is a dynamic process. Even after puberty, the brain still undergoes major structural changes. This is especially true of the prefrontal cortex. This area directs processes such as the activities of working memory and the shaping of complex and goal-oriented actions. The still developing prefrontal cortex also has consequences for cognitive processes such as learning, thinking about one's own thinking (metacognition) and planning. It also affects social processes, because the emotional system and the communication between that system and the cognitive system is still developing. Adolescents can therefore rely less on somatic labeling, a very important neural process, which is discussed in detail in other parts of this website. One consequence of this is, among other things, that especially in a phase of life in which adolescents have to make many choices, their ability to make decisions does not yet function optimally. Other consequences are that mental processes such as slowing down and delaying behavior, directing attention, managing emotions, dealing with criticism, planning, but also flexibly switching between new and old rules to tackle a taskare less developed. 

Adolescents, on the other hand, are well able to reason hypothetically and think outside the box because of the flexibility of their brains. It is not until mid-adolescence that young people begin to use processes that improve decision-making. A development that continues until late adolescence around the age of twenty-five. They therefore come to decisions in a different way than adults. They have to use their prefrontal cortex much more intensively. These behavioral differences are functional because they prepare adolescents for adulthood. Risky behavior and sensation seeking are necessary for adolescents to create the space to leave the safe parental home. Adolescents exhibit more risky behavior than adults, but they only do so when they are in the company of peers. This can be explained because daring to take risks goes hand in hand with a desire for appreciation within one's own age group.

An expert in this field handles the information in a different way. For example, he reads an article about cloning and immediately sifts the important information from the non-important ones. The expert categorizes the important information into clusters, which he can then use in his working memory to form a well-founded opinion. A built-in alarm system helps him with this. He does not have to think about much, but he feels: this is good and that is not. The American neurologist Damasio has called this somatic marking.

Adolescents are not yet able to use this system well. The connections in and to the frontal cortex are not yet fast enough for it and, moreover, they do not have enough relevant information or experiences stored in the long-term memory. A young person gains a lot of experiences every day, which then provide him with knowledge and criteria to be able to reach a decision faster and better. This form of learning is based on striking or radical events that have triggered a whole range of emotions, feelings and thoughts. This happens more or less by chance and you can therefore call this form of learning incidental or implicit. Although there are enough striking and dramatic events at school and among the students, school learning is not about chance experiences. The curriculum is precisely for the purpose of allowing the students to very consciously gain very specific pre-determined experiences. There is no student who, unless he happens to grow up in a German-speaking environment, will learn German on his own. This kind of learning can be called intentional or explicit learning. Often this learning is based on Hebb's model. A model that describes how repetition strengthens certain neurological networks in the brain, so that someone can master a skill better and better.


From the age of 14 to 15, young people are better able to perform higher abstract tasks. They can better anticipate upcoming situations and they learn to better estimate the consequences of their actions. Although they can now better estimate the direct consequences of their behaviour, they do not yet understand the long-term effects for themselves and others. This is because the brain systems needed for longer-term estimates are not yet fully active. These are brain systems in which knowledge and experiences are stored. This knowledge and experience is necessary to be able to compare previously experienced situations with new situations in order to make estimates based on this. Adolescents have not yet had those experiences. Moreover, it is very difficult for an adolescent to withdraw from a risky situation, especially if that situation earns him a lot of appreciation from his peers. As a result, an adolescent has less control over their impulses.


Many adolescents, including young adolescents, smoke. It's not that they don't know that smoking is dangerous and addictive. They know that well. The first cigarettes taste very bad. It makes you dizzy and often nauseous. In addition, cigarettes cost a lot of money. Nevertheless, both girls and boys regularly light a cigarette.


Adolescents know it's dangerous, but they don't feel that danger. There are no alarm bells ringing in their heads. Their stomachs don't contract. On the contrary, if you smoke you belong to the group. You get appreciation from your peers. "Oh what a whining, if I want I can stop, just like that and if you stop before your 20th you can't get lung cancer!"

"Can you smoke over your lungs? No, that's not smoking what you're doing. You're puffing a bit. You can'y accept that. You almost choke on the smoke, but now you inhale the smoke too.  The same process takes place when binge drinking or when boosting the scooter, so that the thing travels 80 km per hour and not that lousy 40. "Wow and what's up with a helmet? You wimp!".

A fifteen-year-old can understand the consequences of his actions, but he is not able to feel the possible consequences of his behavior and change accordingly. The consequences of his behavior do not evoke the same emotions as in an adult. Brain systems that inhibit behavior when making dangerous choices by evoking unpleasant feelings such as nausea or tightness work in adolescence, but they are drowned out by systems that respond to reward. Especially when the reward involves admiration from peers.


Young people not only need coaching, but they also need guidance. Explaining that it is dangerous to race through the neighborhood with your scooter at ten o'clock in the evening does not help. The youngster himself knows that. Nothing is more demotivating than wanting to teach someone something they already know.

Then why is he doing it?

The desire for the short-term reward in the form of the thrill of his speed and the appreciation of his friends for his daring is very strong. In an adult with a normally functioning emotional system, in addition to an emotion such as excitement, emotions such as fear, disgust and disapproval would also arise. He starts sweating.  His stomach contracts and the blush of shame rises to his head. Before all that happens, his emotional system has long since kicked in and he's quietly puffing through the street on his scooter and with a helmet on his head.
Adolescents need guidance in this development to prevent them from making irreversible mistakes. It is the job of parents and teachers to prevent peer pressure from allowing a young person to do things that are dangerous and have irreversible consequences. It is therefore important that adults resist overly impulsive behavior and set clear boundaries.

Brains develop in relation to stimuli from the environment. These are not always meaningful, valuable or appropriate incentives. School and the parents must create conditions in which as many meaningful incentives as possible are offered. However, the reality is that at home, but also at school or on the street, adolescents encounter a large amount of unnecessary or even harmful stimuli. From screeching marital quarrels to smoking weed and hearing or even uttering racist remarks. The risk of an adolescent's highly flexible and sensitive brain is that these concepts become ingrained. It takes a lot of effort to change those ingrained naive or evil concepts again.
A person's working memory acts as a spam filter and bouncer at the same time. It filters unnecessary, irrelevant or even malicious information and keeps it out. However, what is an unwelcome guest to an adult who must be stopped as soon as possible may not be so to an adolescent.
Setting boundaries and explicit guidance does not prevent an adolescent from having different thoughts about what is meaningful or very boring. And that's a good thing, because adolescents need to be able to test their own thoughts against reality. However, due to the phase they are in and the pressure of the age group, they are not able to set limits themselves. They need guidance to help them recognize and reject naive or evil concepts.


The intention of feedback is that someone learns something from their own behavior and then deals with it flexibly. Feedback, which indicates that the previous behavior was wrong, negative feedback, activates areas of the brain in adults that are important for goal-directed behavior. The areas are located in the frontal cortex. One of the areas is called the alarm area (the anterior cingulate cortex). It becomes active when people make mistakes. Research among adolescents shows that this area is still developing during adolescence. During negative feedback, the brains of adolescents showed much less activity than the brains of adults. As a result, adolescents are less able to handle punishment and disapproval than adults. The same study found that positive feedback triggered much more brain activity in adolescents.

Define borders

Adolescents' desire for autonomy should not be confused with being autonomous. Adolescents strive for autonomy, but are not yet there. It is precisely the 'battle' that adolescents have to wage with parents, teachers and other adults that is a crucial part of becoming autonomous. The interaction between setting boundaries and adolescents who constantly push the boundaries in their quest for autonomy is an essential part of development. Not setting boundaries or leaving the setting of boundaries to adolescents themselves hinders them from gaining experiences in a safe learning environment. A safe learning environment is not a kind of cage that protects them from any danger from the outside world. That is false safety, because one day they will have to get out of that cage and then they have not learned how to weigh risks and make decisions. They lack the important experiences their somatic marker system needs to make good decisions quickly.
The desire for autonomy naturally entails experimentation. Moreover, the desire for reward and especially reward in the form of appreciation of peers entails risky behaviour. This behavior is necessary to break free from childhood fixed values.
However, the combination of risk behavior and the desire for rewards, if no clear limits are set, leads to unacceptable risks. A safe learning environment ensures that irresponsible actions do not directly lead to irreversible consequences. Moreover, a safe learning environment ensures that an individual learns to make decisions freely without being manipulated or even forced by others. Such a learning environment does not arise automatically, but must be created and directed by parents and teachers.

Talent and attention

There are major differences in the individual development of young people; differences in both physical and cognitive abilities. Those talents are primarily genetically determined. The environment then determines whether or not the potential talents are activated.
Conversely, it doesn't work. A highly inspiring environment cannot conjure up talents that are not there. This does not alter the fact that a structured, inspiring environment can limit the negative consequences for a child at risk.
Children from a socio-economic disadvantaged environment therefore have a double problem. The families from disadvantaged backgrounds have often been at the socio-economic bottom of society for generations. The genetically determined cognitive talents have lagged behind and the environment in which these children grow up is not school-oriented. However, this starting position need not be hopeless. Genetically determined abilities are not static. Major changes can occur in a relatively short time. Education can also have a very positive influence on this. A large number of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the paupers and unskilled workers of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth have emancipated and socialized themselves. The mulo and later the mavo, which in the Netherlands stands for secondary comprehensive education played a crucial role in this. These school types were not characterized by inspiring subject matter that matched the pupils' perception of the world. The education was boring and strict. Students had little to say or choose. Yet it is precisely these school types that have emancipated the working class in a short period of time and prepared it for a new post-industrial society.

Talent has to do with the speed with which the brain processes information and with the efficiency with which it retains sensory stimuli in working memory. In the working memory, that information is compared with the information already present in the long-term memory. Children with more cognitive talent think more in relationships between information and are more likely to cluster that information into meaningful patterns. They think less in separate boxes. The ability to cluster information and to put those clusters back into meta-clusters is essential for learning, because working memory is used much more efficiently in this way. In order to form clusters based on meaning, one must be able to categorize and generalize the information so that the information comes into a larger context. Categorizing and generalizing are only possible if someone is able to abstract, that is, to separate information from concrete reality.
Most students cannot do this on their own. Teachers should help them make those connections by explicitly building the appropriate examples and metaphors into the explanations. In first instance, this explanation should be as unambiguous as possible, but as students become more talented, side roads and alternatives can be offered. However, this needs to be carefully considered, because these alternatives activate neural networks that influence the original neural clusters and can therefore still lead to confusion in students and subsequently to incorrect conceptions.
In addition to these linguistic thinking strategies, visual-spatial strategies are important for processing information. The latter strategies have been pushed into the background in education due to the great emphasis on communication. Mathematics, for example, has been made more and more concrete at the expense of abstract reasoning. Instead of talking about a square, it is about a paving stone. It is questionable whether this concretization has helped students very much.

Attention is necessary to learn but it is not the same. It's a confusing mistake made by the advocates of the learning styles theory. The proponents of learning styles assume that children have a dominant style of learning and therefore benefit when learning material is presented in a visual, auditory or kinetic way. The underlying asumption is that information entering one sensory channel is processed in the brain independently of information entering another sensory channel. The information would then be learned independently of each other. So that certain visual information is processed differently than auditory information and is also learned independently of auditory information.This assumption is wrong.
In reality, we make no sensory representation, no mental images, in the areas of the brain where the sensory stimuli enter. Only in working memory is a sense of sensory perception is created by a combination of sensory stimuli and stimuli from the long-term memory.

To choose

It used to be simpler. A lot of boys started doing what their father did and a lot of girls were also destined to become housewives, just like their mother. The choice had already been made for them. During puberty, most of them started training in that direction. They had a very concrete idea of ​​what their future would look like. That time is over.

Education has created the conditions for learning how to choose, but these do not match the mindset of young adolescents. The result is a huge dropout in tertiary education. Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the educational level following the completion of secondary education. 

Large numbers of students at tis level choose a direction that turns out not to be the right one. Some do this several times and often end up without a diploma.
The future for which to choose has become much more complex. Not making a choice and going to do what your father did is no longer the reality for most young people.
Adolescents should therefore not only be guided in their choices. They also need to be guided in learning how to choose. It is impossible to list all the pros and cons of a choice in the future. But by giving them more knowledge of how society works and which route should be followed for a certain choice, it can be made clearer.
An important point is that young people should be allowed to make mistakes in their choices to a certain extent. This means that the education system is designed in such a way that switching from one direction to the other remains possible without too many problems.
Students can choose the direction they want to follow. They cannot choose the level at which they receive education. Here, too, the transfer options during and after a certain degree program must be as broad as possible, so that students who develop a little later are not deprived of all kinds of opportunities in advance.
An adolescent is incapable of directing his own learning process. In addition, they have a very optimistic view of their own abilities and limits. The latter also has a strong side. Choices that would for adults be precluded from the start remain in the eyes of adolescents possible.

A parent or teacher always has the choice to close the door or to keep the door ajar. He or she must always keep in mind whether the plans are feasible and realistic. Realizable in the sense that there is actually a certain route and real in the sense that he believes that this student could do it.
Education should take care of the first. There must always be a route, no matter how complicated, to develop for a person as optimally as possible. In addition, the teachers must ensure that the student in question continues to see the sometimes very narrow path. They should make the student aware that it is a very narrow path and therefore guide him and help him to map out one or two alternative routes. All routes must be made explicit. Not just with words, but by putting them on paper as clearly and in detail as possible.
The moment the teacher slams the door on the student, he has lost the student. He continues to come to school neatly, but with less pleasure and inspiration. In addition, he will be more difficult to approach.

Students cannot oversee what all the learning material is meant for. That is not necessary. However, they do have an idea of ​​what education is meant for. They may not be interested in the content, but they are interested in the result.
It is a misconception to think that students only come to school to meet others.


It is a fallacy of adults to want to include this social interaction, this living environment, in the curriculum. Adolescents would be much more motivated if they could collaborate or plan their work themselves. Self-evaluation and reflection on their work and their attitudes would also improve learning. These assumptions ignore the real needs and attitudes of adolescents. A teacher who is trying to inspire adolescents to self-evaluate or reflect should not whine if he finds, in frustration, that the response of his students is not there at best. Please note that this concerns reflection as a source of inspiration as a separate component in the curriculum. Implicitly using reflection and evaluation to talk to a student about his work and his attitude to his work is an excellent way of giving him or her feedback.


The word "puberty" is derived from the Latin word "pubescere", which means 'to be covered with hair'. This definition stems from the development of hair growth in the pubic area, under the armpits and on the legs.

Puberty and adolescence are not synonyms of each other. Puberty is a stage of adolescence when children reach sexual maturity. It is a period between approximately 10 years and 15 years of age. Girls reach puberty a little earlier than boys and generally come out a little earlier too. Adolescence continues much longer; certainly until after the age of twenty

Sexually mature
Sexual maturity is a very important step from an evolutionary point of view. Hormones set it in motion and of course not only affect body changes, but also changes in the brain, which in turn cause changes in perception and behaviour. Hormones don't just cause the body to change. Social identity, sexual interests and the way in which friendships are handled also change.
During puberty, i.e. the first phase of adolescence, very important biological changes take place. Changes that are mainly controlled by hormones and where ultimately it is only about one thing; preparing the child's body to be able to have offspring, to be able to take care of the offspring and thus to keep its own genes instant. Puberty is intended to prepare young people for reproduction. That doesn't just happen. A large number of changes are required to initiate puberty and, by extension, adolescence. The functioning of the hypothalamus is the driving force behind the onset of puberty.
Other systems also play an important role. The body of teenagers changes. In girls the fat reserves increase and in boys the muscles, hair growth and voice change. These changes in themselves already have a lot of influence on the social identity of adolescents, but in addition to the visible physical changes, major changes are also taking place in the brain. Not only sexuality awakens, but especially in boys also aggressive and risk-seeking behavior. All of these hormonal, physical, and neural changes have a major impact on behavior as puberty transitions into adolescence between the ages of 14 and 17.
Young adolescents not only rebel against their father and mother, but also against teachers and other authorities. Their behavior is often impulsive and sometimes downright annoying. They take big risks without worrying about the possible consequences. They only think of very short term rewards especially if it consists of the appreciation and even rather admiration of their peers.

Girls and boys
Boys' brains generally develop more slowly than girls' brains. But of course there are individual differences and the natural environment of the youngsters has a major influence on these developments in addition to the hereditary factors.
In a structural sense, boys have slightly larger brains than girls. This has only to do with their somewhat larger body size. The size of the brain is related to the size of the rest of the body. In general, girls have a more robust corpus callosum than boys. The corpus callosum is the thick bundle of white matter fibers, which is the main pathway between the two hemispheres of the brain. The corpus callosum is the highway of information flows. In girls, the corpus callosum has more fibers, reaching to more areas in each hemisphere of the brain. Such a structural advantage is consistent with the stereotype of women that they are better at multitasking and articulating emotional thoughts. Men, on the other hand, have more variation in the structure of their parietal cortex. Parts of the parietal cortex make important contributions to working memory, but the main purpose of the parietal cortex appears to be the processing of spatial information, such as navigation and tracking of moving objects.

Adolescents and Emotions

In daily life, a person finds himself in many personal or social situations, in which he has to make complicated choices. It is usually not the case that someone can weigh up the pros and cons at their leisure. Moreover, people appear not to be very good at rationally weighing possible actions. Research shows that decisions that have been considered for a long time are not that much better and often even worse than decisions that are made on instinct. Our brains base choices more on past experiences in comparable situations than on systematically comparing all alternatives, all pros and cons. The brain is also unable to weigh up a large number of alternatives in a structured way. The decision is then made on the basis of a comparable situation that has led to a pleasant or, conversely, an unpleasant result.

Problem for adolescents
Adolescents have a hard time here. They go through a period in their lives in which they are hypersensitive and often have a very short fuse. Their brains, and especially the frontal cortex, are still developing and the emotional part and the control system are still badly balanced. Moreover, adults can make much better use of their feelings to assess a situation. Adolescents cannot rely on that system yet. First, their frontal cortex is not yet fully developed. Secondly, they still have too few relevant experiences.
The control system, the so-called executive functions, is not yet fully developed. The same goes for the emotional system. The fact that both systems are not yet fully developed also means that the two systems cannot yet be in balance with each other.
The emotional part of the adolescent brain is overactive in emotionally stimulating situations. The emotions of adolescents can then go in all directions, while they still have insufficient control functions to manage all that emotional arousal. Parents and teachers know these emotional outbursts well. One minute, a fifteen-year-old might glare at a teacher so angrily that it looks if he or she could really kill him and the next moment that same adolescent and her friend go into a unstoppable fit of laughter. They seem to have completely forgotten the anger. It is a good thing that most teachers' control systems are well developed, otherwise serious accidents would occur.

Research among people who have lost certain emotions as a result of brain injury has shown that those people have also lost the ability to make rational decisions.
The conclusion is that emotions and feelings are an essential part of the process of reasoning and decision-making, the cognitive process. If the emotional system is not yet optimally developed, while it does play a very important role in the cognitive process, this has consequences for the learning of adolescents.
The emotional system works closely with the rational system to enable us to make the best choices possible.
Emotions, feelings and thoughts play an important role in making choices. Roughly speaking, we make choices in the following way.
• To choose you have to decide.
• To decide you have to judge.
• To judge you have to reason, while to reason deciding is important again.
When judging and reasoning, it is important to have as much relevant knowledge as possible at your hand. Not only knowledge in the form of information about the outside world is  necessary, but also knowledge of your own body and mind. Criteria are needed to choose the most relevant information from the enormous amount of information at your disposal. In addition, thinking strategies are needed that enable you to successfully complete this process. And finally, you need to have that knowledge available at the right time and in the right place.
This decision cycle is of decisive importance for learning. Learning is about increasing knowledge, but also making the criteria increasingly sharp and improving the thinking strategies for processing that knowledge.

Emotions and learning

The origin of emotions lies in internal and external stimuli. The brain uses emotions to create feelings that strongly influence decision-making. Thus, the advice often given to students to put their feelings aside for a while seems to be at odds with the hypothesis that our rational decision-making is driven by emotions. Emotion and cognition are interdependent.

An important point in the learning process is when fear responses take over and hold our awareness and attention. An unsafe home situation due to neglect, maltreatment or abuse or an unsafe school environment has a disastrous effect on learning.
A threatening environment increases the cortisol (stress hormone) level in the body and there are clear indications that an elevated cortisol level has a negative effect on the development and functioning of the frontal cortex. A less well-developed or functioning cortex has negative consequences for concentration and working memory. The mental repetition of a potential threat keeps the working memory busy, whereas it should be used for, for example, following the lesson.

In many schools, these issues are addressed by focusing on strengthening students' emotional resilience by incorporating lifestyle, social skills training, and aggression management into the curriculum.
Another way to alleviate anxiety in school is to focus more on developing the ability to better perceive emotions in both yourself and others. To better understand those emotions and thereby better manage your own emotions. Education could be strengthened by giving teachers more knowledge about emotions. Teach them to reflect on emotions and to teach them to deal with the emotional side of the thinking process.
That sounds very nice, but it is not yet clear from research whether such an approach can counteract the unconscious but very powerful impulses of fear reactions.

Managing emotions and learning
Controlling the emotions is an important ability for effective learning. The question, however, is how much influence an individual has on regulating their own emotions. This is especially true in a social environment in which emotions are strongly influenced by the emotions of others in that environment. This is even more true for adolescents in a social context.
Neuroscientific research shows that an emotion is triggered much earlier than our rational system can influence it. If we think there's a snake in the road, our emotional system has already warned our bodies before we realize it's a dried up branch. It is therefore not possible to hold back an emotion. At most it is possible to limit the duration of a negative emotion. The same goes for a positive emotion, think of trying to hold back a smile, but that's usually less of a problem.
This means that the emotional system always has an influence on thinking, while the rational system can only manage the emotions in the second instance.

Emotional hostage in adolescents

Adolescents are even worse at controlling their emotions than adults. That is why it is mainly the task of a teacher in a class to see in time that a student is completely off his feet. Moreover, the open-loop construction plays an important role here, because it ensures that the contagion of the emotion spreads to other students in the group. The open loop construction is covered on another page. An inhibiting factor can be that expressing emotion in this age group is not very good. "It's okay to be angry, but you have to act normal."
In addition, many students are afraid of the sanctions that can follow an extreme rage attack. However, that does not guarantee that it will never happen, if anger is not detected and dealt with in time.
Emotions come on quickly in adolescents, but they also quickly decline. Allowing a student to cool down is therefore a good idea.
During the cool-down period, the enraged student can break the circle of hostile thoughts by seeking distraction. Intense exercise also helps to dampen anger. Movement activates the body physiologically. The body needs its energy for movement and will therefore free up less energy for anger.
However, the distraction only works if the anger-inducing thoughts are stopped. Simply expelling from the classroom is not very effective because it makes it very easy for the student to continue following the angry train of thought.
Another method is to have a student write down his angry train of thought and then check and assess the thoughts together with the student.
Anger or anger can be used effectively if it is aimed directly at the person concerned and if it leads to someone feeling that they have things under control again.

Motivation and learning

Motivation is crucial for successful learning. It is closely related to emotions. Motivation is an individual's ability to focus physically and psychologically on the task at hand. Motivation is always about reward. A person is willing to do something because he is promised a reward for doing so. Reward should be taken very broadly here and not just in a material sense. It may well be that someone gets a huge sum of money for performing a task, but does not see or feel it as a reward. Conversely, people are willing to give their lives for a particular ideal. Their reward is the feeling that they have done something amazingly well, worth dying for. The same goes for punishment. A student who has insulted a teacher to the bone may find the punishment he receives very annoying. But the reward in the form of appreciation and admiration from his peers can be much stronger than the punishment. That doesn't have to be the case. Often, adolescent misbehavior is perceived by peers as odd maladaptive behavior. It does not result in appreciation but disapproval and even expulsion. The latter is about the worst punishment that can befall an adolescent.
Adolescents need many external factors to activate their own motivation and withstand peer group pressure. The motivation of adolescents is not always the same as that which adults expect of them. Internal motivation is formed by wishes that represent inner needs and desires. Those wishes may well be related to school goals or tasks, but other factors such as the prospect of a quick reward or the appreciation of the peer group are much stronger. Adolescents understand very well that school tasks must be done and school goals achieved, but they lack the self-direction to realize this. They expect parents and teachers to send them in if necessary. If there is no other option, with punitive measures if necessary.

Motivation is by definition intrinsic. In other words, motivation is an intrinsic mental mechanism, because motivation always comes from the person himself. Intrinsic motivation is therefore a pleonasm. They are external factors that strengthen or weaken motivation. Learning always needs motivation, but external factors determine the degree of motivation.
Whether it's the just-survived encounter with a cave bear or the great story of the history teacher or the razor-sharp criticism of the English teacher or even the ideal for which you want to give your life; they are external factors that trigger the mental process of motivation.
Adolescents can get into a 'flow' for a subject that touches their heart and know a lot about it in the shortest possible time. The 'flow' itself can be the reward here, but also the appreciation, recognition or admiration of others. A powerful motivating factor is the 'eureka moment'. Suddenly someone sees the solution to a certain problem. The brain reacts very positively to this. Learning would benefit from consciously incorporating elements into the curriculum that give students the opportunity to experience such moments. This can be done at different levels and it should be done as early as possible in education. 'Eureka moments' are addictive. Once a person has experienced it, it strengthens the motivation to get that feeling again.
Adolescents are extra sensitive to these kinds of factors, but the disappointment when it doesn't work out is all the greater. Adolescents must learn to deal with disappointments. For this they need not only help but also guidance from adults.


Motivation is by definition intrinsic. In other words, motivation is an intrinsic mental mechanism, because motivation always comes from the person himself. Intrinsic motivation is therefore a pleonasm. They are external factors that strengthen or weaken motivation. Learning always needs motivation, but external factors determine the degree of motivation.
Whether it's the just-survived encounter with a cave bear or the great story of the history teacher or the razor-sharp criticism of the English teacher or even the ideal for which you want to give your life; they are external factors that trigger the mental process of motivation.
Adolescents can get into a 'flow' for a subject that touches their heart and know a lot about it in the shortest possible time. The 'flow' itself can be the reward here, but also the appreciation, recognition or admiration of others. A powerful motivating factor is the 'eureka moment'. Suddenly someone sees the solution to a certain problem. The brain reacts very positively to this. Learning would benefit from consciously incorporating elements into the curriculum that give students the opportunity to experience such moments. This can be done at different levels and it should be done as early as possible in education. 'Eureka moments' are addictive. Once a person has experienced it, it strengthens the motivation to get that feeling again.
Adolescents are extra sensitive to these kinds of factors, but the disappointment when it doesn't work out is all the greater. Adolescents must learn to deal with disappointments. For this they need not only help but also guidance from adults.