New research published yesterday indicates that peer pressure is more insidious than originally thought; apparently, it actually changes our brain (see full bad news here).
This could actually be good news for parents and teachers, though. If peer pressure can change our brains negatively, then it must also be able to change your brains positively; if we can change the climate of a school dramatically, making it "cool" to be interested in academics or to be motivated and high-achieving, then everyone's brains will change to follow along.
Huh. That simple, eh?
Well, actually it is pretty simple in theory and should be simple in practice, but it requires a shift in thinking. Everyone in the building needs to believe that everyone in the building is capable of great things. Even the kid in the back who never says anything, and the one in the front who won't stop saying things (often off topic or inappropriate). It means believing that your late reader at home, or the kid who is unschooled and just wants to play videogames, is going to figure it out and take off, and if it takes a little while longer, so what?
Attitude is everything when it comes to education and learning. We all have bad days, the ones where we drag ourselves out of bed and wonder if we can get away with showing a movie all day, or the days when we wander into the kitchen to a pile of something the dog threw up and realize the kid who is still sleeping used the last of the paper towels late the night before when they spilled water all over their bookshelf right before bed. That's okay. We can still be human and have bad days and still, overall, be positive and work our magic. Instead of fighting the inevitable, or laying down and letting it run us over, I propose we harness peer pressure for good, not evil.