Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 


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Hormone soup or hyperrational distortion?

Lisa Brown (parent of two DA Middle Schoolers) shared an interesting article from The Atlantic. In it, Daniel Siegel makes a convincing case that the teenage brain is neither immature nor fogged by hormones. Dopamine is the lens through which we can see adolescent attitudes and behaviors more clearly.

Click here to see the full article, or below for the concluding paragraphs:

Why should this matter to us, whether we are teens, in our twenties, or older? It matters because if we see the adolescent period as just a time to wade through, a time to endure, we’ll miss out on taking very important steps to optimize the essence of adolescence. When we see our emotional spark, our social engagement, our novelty seeking, and our creative explorations as positive and necessary core aspects of who adolescents are—and who they might become as adults if they can cultivate those qualities as well—this period becomes a time of great importance that should be not just survived but nurtured.

From the inside, these changes can become overwhelming, and from the outside, such changes may at times seem like teenagers are lost and “out of control.” But there’s nothing wrong with the drive for thrills—the issue is how to control those drives so as to minimize harm to oneself or others. Honoring the important and necessary changes in the adolescent mind and brain is crucial for both teens and their parents. When we embrace these needed changes, when we offer teens the support and guidance they need instead of just throwing up our hands and thinking we’re dealing with an “immature brain that simply needs to grow up,” or “raging hormones in need of taming,” we enable adolescents to develop vital new capacities that they can use to lead happier and healthier lives.

Photo credit: Paul Thompson, UCLA School of Medicine
Posted by in Middle School on Wednesday January, 29, 2014


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