You can add Frances Jensen’s “The teenage brain” to your Christmas gifts list. It is a useful and accessible read for anybody working with adolescents, including at home. She digests the latest neuroscience findings on brain development to show that adolescence is a critical window of vulnerabilities and opportunities. As connectivity of the brain matures from back to front lobes through childhood, 20% remains unwired when kids enter their teens. She shows the effects of stress, substance abuse, and physical shocks on the adolescent brain development and discusses implications for education and justice systems inter alia. This is mind-blowing stuff that Jensen thinks should be made widely available to practioners, parents and adolescents themselves. So we invited her to our Conversation with Thought Leaders series, see here.
Some of you asked me what I read about ISIS. Like many of you, probably too much. But here are some of the (non-book) write-ups that helped me think and take a long view. On the origins of ISIS, I found Tim Urban’s “From Muhammad to ISIS: Iraq’s full story” clear and useful. On what ISIS is, I was interested in Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS really wants” because of the debate it triggered around the role of religion vs other pull factors attracting recruits. Lydia Wilson’s “What I discovered from interviewing imprisoned ISIS fighters”, for instance, points to “humiliated and enraged young men [seeking] a way out of their insecure and undignified lives; the promise of living in pride as Iraqi Sunni Arabs, which is not just a religious identity but cultural, tribal, and land-based, too.” For the Francophones, I would add Olivier Roy’s “Le djihadisme est une révolte générationnelle et nihiliste” because of his thought-provoking thesis, based on the study of recruits’ profiles, that we are witnessing the Islamization of (youth) radicalism rather than the radicalization of Islam [English speakers can read his Quartz interview here]. And Alain Bertho’s “Il faut être clair un monde a pris fin et il n’y aura pas de retour en arrière” which contrasts ISIS with the 1970ies political terrorism and post-communist social rebellions, and looks at the ideological vacuum they fill for destabilized young people. But I would like to hear which readings you found useful.
I found myself glued to the Bloomberg Carbon Clock, a real-time estimate of the global atmospheric CO2 level. Not very constructive. So my visual this week is from ITU’s “Measuring the information society report 2015”. The good news: 3.2 billion people are online, and 95% of the global population are covered by mobile-cellular networks. The interesting trend: Over the past year, mobile broadband subscriptions (47.2%) overtook households with internet access (46.4%). The bad news: multiple digital divides persist between and within countries; between rural and urban areas; between men and women; between rich and poor; between the more and less educated; and between social groups. The projections: by 2020 53% of people will be online globally; 45% in developing countries; but only 11% in LDCs.
My quote this week is from Nesta CEO Geoff Mulgan in “Meaningful meetings: How can meetings can be made better?”: “Some of the best meetings don’t happen.”