Imagine you've just started a job in a new profession. In the first weeks or months, you might seek first to learn the "rules," taking guidance received from your manager and colleagues at face value.
Gradually, you become more comfortable, and see the way decisions really get made in the organization. You learn to maneuver your own way. You know what will wow those around you, and you're becoming more confident in expressing your skills.
Perhaps, as you begin to really settle into the profession over years, you may shift once again. Impressing your colleagues is nice, but you may start to develop your own standards for what your best work looks like. You may see ways to grow, through the company or not, and begin to wonder how to do the work you're most passionate about, how to keep learning. When you see others wanting to grow as well, you have a natural empathy for them.
In this imaginary example, you've just completed a developmental pattern that mirrors what adolescents can go through. From conformity (how do I fit in here?), to achievement or affiliation (I know how to impress them!), to authenticity (I have the awareness, confidence, and ability to express my gifts). Only for adolescents, they aren't just learning how to navigate a job, or a school - they're learning how to navigate life, forming their adult sense of self.
As we began to develop the concept for Millennium School, we sought firm ground on which to base a new vision for adolescent education, based more on human potential and modern science, rather than tradition alone. The foundation we found was developmental science - specifically adolescent psychology and neuroscience - which outlines the developmental pattern described above, as well as the windows of opportunity and areas of greatest risk along the way. In the months ahead, we'll outline more of the research and methods drawn from developmental science, forming the foundation for our whole educational approach at Millennium.