Pedagogy, teaching

Graphing the teenage worldview

A Reformed Cantankerous Curmudgeon had an interesting post this morning about his reversion to using more traditional (read: didactic) presentation techniques in his classroom. His post got me thinking more generally about how students’ willingness (or lack thereof) to embrace process-focused and inquiry-based teaching approaches might be linked more generally to developmental trajectory and the teenage mindset.

Now, I’m no psychology wizard, nor am I an expert in cognitive development, so please recognize that this theory (and the following graph) have no basis in research, other theories, or some might argue, critical thinking. It’s merely something I cobbled together based on my observations as a teacher and my own self-reflection. So now that I’ve given the necessary caveat emptor, here’s the graph of my theory:


In high school students steadily progress on a trajectory toward full-mastery and complete knowledge of the entire universe. In short, they know how everything works and how it should operate. This trajectory progresses from about 88% total knowledge of everything in the universe as a freshman to roughly 99% total knowledge by the end of one’s senior year in high school.

However, students suffer a rude awakening shortly after graduating — they recognize how much more complicated the world is and how much more of it there is to know. I imagine a similar pattern takes place whenever any serious life-change occurs, but this is the transition that I observe most frequently.

Now, here’s the related tech question. Does anyone have a good (and quickly intuitive) graphing website? I fully recognize that my graph above looks very bush league, but it was made with the aptly titled “Simple Data Grapher.” Embarrassingly, I was too impatient to figure out the Dept. of Education’s “Kids Zone” Create-A-Graph webpage, so that leaves you with the not-too-easy-on-the-eyes graph above. Sorry.


One thought on “Graphing the teenage worldview

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