Last week in my Year 12 English class, I was engaging the boys in class discussion when one of them offered a profound insight into his own growth and development.

It was this:

“My pre-frontal cortex was definitely under construction when I was in Year 9.”

Keeping a straight face, I acknowledged to the boy that this was the case for all of them: that during adolescence their brains undergo significant development that impacts their decision-making, problem-solving and impulse control. As an aside, I was seriously impressed with the boy’s ability to identify specific parts of the brain associated with his brain development.

Proudly, the same boy followed with: “I’m definitely way more mature now. I couldn’t control myself in Year 9.”

Interestingly, a number of other boys in the class nodded in solidarity. One even mumbled, “Same.”

This moment of self-reflection for the class was certainly a sign of the boys’ ability to self-reflect in an environment where they felt safe, included, and supported. It was also a sign of many brains that had undergone several stages of maturation.

At IGS, we utilise a variety of teaching methods that engage boys’ visual, auditory, and tactile senses to support their brain development so that they can be active participants with the curriculum. Our teaching methodologies allow our boys to become critical thinkers who regularly engage in self-reflection.

As their teacher, this insight was also a reminder of how important the brain is in every boy’s development. The brain is one of the most precious organs in the human body. Along with many other things, it is responsible for our thoughts, emotions, memories, and actions. And during adolescence, the brain undergoes significant ‘construction’ which can impact your son’s emotions, actions, and personality.

Perhaps this explains the boy’s comment regarding Year 9… at 14 years of age, some of the most critical brain networks are being formed and remodelling of the brain structures is occurring at a rapid rate that decision-making abilities may be impacted. [1,2]

As educators, it is vital we understand brain changes as it enables us to support our boys academically and pastorally inside and outside of the classroom. Each day our boys are taught to think critically, to problem-solve; they are guided to make good decisions in a structured learning environment that is both inclusive and supports their individual development. That is the IGS way.

And so, what may be considered an off-hand comment by a Year 12 boy, is actually an acknowledgement of the critical thinking that has been taught to him over several years which has enabled this moment of self-reflection. All the boys in Year 12 should be proud of their progress and I hope they realise they are only bound by the belief in their potential.

As end of term exams begin today, I wish all boys the very best for their upcoming assessment. May they be able to prepare for their exams well and effectively reflect on their progress to date.

Catherine Cuddihy
Dean of Academics

[1] Development Milestones for Your 14-Year-Old Child (

[2] Teen Brain Development: Timeline, Effects, Factors (