Memories of Youth, & Taking Care of the Teenage Brain

Memories of Youth, & Taking Care of the Teenage Brain
Peter DuMont - Mon Dec 21, 2015 @ 05:38PM
Comments: 6

In the course of my experience as a specialty school teacher, one could say, for a number of years in the Oakland Public Schools [late 1990's & early 2000's, during which time I cut my teeth presenting lessons in The Vocabulary of Peace] I spoke one day to a very nice senior who had served for years in the Montclair schools as the visiting nurse.

Oh yes, middle schoolers! she said: One moment they'll act like mature adults, the next moment like little children — and you never know which!

It gave me a belly-laugh of recognition — both from observation of many of my students, and memories of my own 7th and 8th grade years...all that playful interaction with my buddies.

What wasn't so funny was remembering what it was like to start caring desperately about girls, nor hearing one day, at age 12 on the steps of the Multipurpose Room at Piedmont Junior High School: that President Kennedy had been shot, and just short years later, also Dr. Martin Luther King and Kennedy's younger brother, Robert. [RFK was running courageously for President to fill the vacuum.]

Thank goodness for NASA's Space Program and the triumphant moon landing of 1969 that added a tremendous counterpoint of positive energy and adventuresome spirit to the mix!

All this to introduce a post I made this morning to KQED-Forum (one of my main inspirations for public comment for many years): about the importance of caring for foster children and the teenage brain. As it grows by leaps and bounds, the young mind and brain are also naturally unstable and vulnerable to deep impressions.

I hope our legislators, agencies, and the public will take heed of the important opportunity I describe below, and realize that the investments we make in fragile youth will, in the long run, pay social and economic dividends many, many times over.


Comment posted 2015-12-21 at

1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE83 hours ago

Thanks for the focus of this show — taking care of foster kids and preparing them properly for emancipation is such an important public responsibility!

May I recommend making instruction in the Transcendental Meditation technique ( available to all foster children and their families — not to mention all teens, by the way. 

I was lucky to learn "TM" at age eighteen while a freshman at UC Berkeley in 1969 — a tumultuous year in our state and nation. Within weeks I was feeling strong benefits: including better clarity of thinking and extra emotional stability — particularly in the unstable social-political environment.

I remember feeling, along with my gratitude, a deep sense of regret that I hadn't had the wonderful, daily stabilizing influence of the TM technique years earlier — specifically at age 12 or 13! What a help it would have been during the vivid ups and downs of adolescence!

For those wanting more information: I was pleased to see just yesterday a discussion of this very issue by a Washington, DC clinical psychologist, Dr. William Stixrud, which has been posted on YouTube by the David Lynch Foundation. For the benefit of the children and their families, here's the link:

[Here's the link to the full KQED show, Aging Out of Foster Care:]

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Comments: 6


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