The Middle Years Of Schooling Focuses On Young Adolescent Learners: Teaching Assignment, DU, Australia

University Deakin University
Subject Teaching


The middle year’s learner The middle years of schooling focuses on young adolescent learners from approximately 10 – 15 years of age (Pendergast& Bahr, 2010). During these years, young adolescents experience major developmental changes as they transition from childhood to young adulthood. Indeed, this stage of development is only second to infancy in terms of rapidity of change (Bahr &Pendergast, 2007; Cumming, 1998).

Although all young adolescents experience physical, 2 social, emotional, and intellectual change, the onset and rapidity of change in each of these areas differ from person to person causing diversity to be greatest among young adolescents. At the same time, these early adolescents are also experiencing a rapidly changing world that is vastly different from that of their parents.

The Department of Education and Training, Northern Territory (Cobbold, 2005) reported two main factors which were causing major differences in the world that today’s young adolescents are experiencing and must be considered. First is the increased instability in the economic and social contexts in which these young people are growing up.

Economic instability has implications for the types of employment and the future employment prospects for young people. Social instability is a result of changes in family structures, increasing cultural and language diversity due to an increasingly mobile global population creating the potential for many young adolescents to be ‘at at risk’ due to language barriers and the family’s socio-economic status.

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The second-factor results from other societal changes that were highlighted by Luke et al. (2003) in their major study of literacy and numeracy in the middle years in Australia. In their report, Luke et al. (2003) noted that “childhood and adolescence have become the sites for large scale engagement with multinational consumer culture … [and] are the direct target market of advertising and mass media.” In today’s society, we see young adolescence as a target market of consumers …. These are not temporary shifts” (p. 14, 15).

For education, these changes have significant implications on the fundamentals of schooling, namely, curriculum, pedagogy, and the organization of schools. At all levels of education, the historical paradigms of teaching and learning are being challenged. Prensky (2001) argued that there is a large discontinuity between today’s students and the incremental differences such as clothing or styles of music or entertainment of generations in the past.

Today’s students are digital natives who have been immersed from birth in the digital age. Computers and video games, iPods, iPads, eReaders, video cams, mobile phones, and a range of other tools and toys of the digital age are part of their world within and outside of the home. Collectively, these changes mean that young adolescents are experiencing diverse cultures and rapidly changing technologies in a far more complex and uncertain world (Luke et al., 2003).

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