Friday, 18 May 2012

Teenage bedrooms - all in the brain

I'm in London, because I'm speaking about the teenage brain again at a thing tomorrow called the Youthwork Summit. This summit is run by some very enthusiastic Christians, which is a little bit worrying for me, as I'm a very enthusiastic atheist. The charming-sounding organiser knows this, because, obviously, I confessed, and he did seem to absolve me. So I think it will be all right, as long as no one tries to do what Billy Graham tried to do to me in 1981.

Anyway, this is entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is that I'm evangelical about the wonders of the teenage brain. I love love love the stuff I've learnt about the the neuroscience of adolescence in ten years of studying it. I did a talk on it last week to a mixed audience of young people and adults and I loved loved loved seeing the nodding heads among the adults and then loved times a hundred that it was a teenager who asked the first question.

It is without doubt my favourite topic.

But.

Tomorrow is a different one.

I will attempt, for the first time in the history of the universe, to explain scientifically the fascinating reasons for the horror that is the stereotypical (apologies) teenage bedroom. I will attempt to show, in a ten-minute TED talk, that the teenage bedroom is a metaphor for and an illustration of everything that's going on in their brains and lives, linking it to psychology, neuroscience and evolution.

I blame Simon Mayo. He invited me on his show a few weeks ago to talk about teenage bedrooms and explain them. My first thought was, a) I have no explanation and b) I don't care about teenage bedrooms. But it's amazing what the chance to be evangelical about my favourite topic on national radio can do to my brain. And within the half hour I was given in which to prepare, I had a theory.

And tomorrow, the theory gets its first full airing, complete with photos provided by Photowitch, aka Helen Giles, who is still technically a teenager herself and therefore a very suitable illustration of the fact that teenagers are worth listening to and respecting and generally treating a whole load better than society often does.




18 comments:

  1. As a teenager, I really want to hear this! My room is always spotless (I am extremely pedantic when it comes to details - everything must be straight on my desk and my duvet has to be perfectly smooth before I can even think about going to school) but my sister's room is a mirror image of the picture above! I think it's an amazing topic to talk about :D

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    1. Hi Jenni- I'm glad you find it interesting, too! When I talk about the teenage brain, btw, I'm always careful to start by saying a) everyone is not the same and b) there's masses of positive and encouraging stuff to say about teenagers, too. You probably realise that you are quite rare having such a tidy room, though! I think it's also very difficult to keep a room tidy when you have to do SO much in it and also usually have quite a lot of stuff to keep in a small space.

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    2. Oh I so wish I could be present at tomorrow's talk as I'd love to know the correlation between daughter's bedroom (which makes the one pictured look smart - there's even some floor space visible in that one!)and her brain.

      Interestingly, I asked her if she thought her room reflected her brain and she instantly responded,"Yes. Scrambled." (She's in the middle of Standard Grades at the moment!)

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    3. Clare, I actually told the audience about that! (Without mentioning your name.) An audience of a THOUSAND people!!

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  2. Hmmm...we still have an untidy house - does that mean the Senior Cat and I have not yet moved past adolescence? :-)

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    1. No. I never said adults don't have untidy rooms, though teenagers have more excuse...

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  3. I was hoping to be at that conference (as I'm training to be a youth worker when not writing my novel) but, alas, it was not to be. I did get terribly excited when I heard you were going, I must admit. This post has got me thinking once again about my aspirations to be both a youth worker and a novelist... do you think, assuming the latter works out, that I (or anyone) would be able to manage both careers - at the same time I mean? (sorry that this question is rather irrelevant to the blog but I thought that you, in all your wisdom, might have some you could share... ?)

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    1. Ellie, since hardly any novelists earn a living from their writing (I certainly don't) you'll need both careers!

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  4. I'm just impressed by the stylist managing to get that dried-on ketchup on to the stack of plates.

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  5. Huh, the only science behind teenage bedrooms is chaos theory. Take it from me.

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  6. Will you be posting a link to the show? Please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

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    1. Hmm, I don't think so. It was hugely stressful - 1000 people in the audience. And I was somewhat stressed.

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  7. Oh please, yes, some more on here about your theory. I have one with a very very tidy room and one who files everything on the floor. (The one with the tidy room has read your Teenage Brain book - is there a connection here ...)

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  8. Here, belatedly, is a link to the talk: https://player.vimeo.com/video/49638693

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