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People learn best when they do something that is challenging and in which they have a lot of interest. Emotions and cognition then go together to gain knowledge and develop skills.
A fundamental difference between childhood and adult learning is the level of control that the learner has. The desire for autonomy in adolescence is critical to learning. They strive to gain control over themselves and their environment. They shape their identity.
Who am I actually and how do others see me? That does not go without a hit or a hit. It takes a lot of energy. It is precisely in these areas that adolescents are very insecure. This has great significance for learning.
Interest eventually gets internalized and with that it becomes part of their identity, part of themselves. In other words, an interest in a particular subject belongs to a particular individual.
Identity is on the one hand an important driver for motivation, while on the other hand protecting identity can put a brake on learning.
The relationship between motivation and learning is fundamental. The motivation to learn is closely related to the goals people set themselves and their identity. The value a person places on learning certain things is determined by the extent to which these things relate to the person's identity and specific goals. I will discuss this in more detail on the page 'The will'.
The development of adolescent brains is not designed for learning scholastic or academic knowledge. That can therefore never be an implicit goal. It is a misconception that the more school learning is linked to real-world stimuli, the more students are involved. School learning is itself a phenomenon in reality. It includes nice and annoying teachers. It includes a school building populated with many peers. And learning material is part of it, which is designed and structured in a curriculum. Learning and staying at a school is, at least an important part of, the reality for adolescents.
Just because adolescents' brains can give the impression of a rich but cluttered and unstructured jungle doesn't mean they benefit from a cluttered and unstructured learning environment. An environment where impressions and impulses tumble over each other.
On the contrary; Precisely because the executive functions of adolescents are not yet able to work optimally, adolescents are not able to adequately structure the subject matter and the learning environment themselves. The direction of learning must therefore come from outside. That certainly applies if you put between twenty and thirty adolescents in one room. The closer the goals of teachers and students match, the more effective the learning will be, but it is the teachers who determine not only the purpose of school learning, but also the way in which it is best done.