Teaching psychology in high school has many benefits. I would prefer to say it should be a compulsory course.
As reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health, mental health statistics related to anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among teens continue to deteriorate. Studying psychology helps develop many social and emotional learning (SEL) skills that are critical to students’ academic success and mental health.
We can help students apply the research they learn in the classroom to their own lives to develop a more sophisticated metacognitive approach to their own identities, development, relationships, and decision-making.
My Class Structure
For many years, I taught psychology to our high school students. One semester I focus on Personal Psychology and the next I focus on Social Psychology. Students are eager to know themselves. Tired of being seen as a “problem,” they are keen to delve into human thought and behavior to better understand how people – including themselves – think, make decisions and behave like them.
The personal psychology period begins with the development of the child. Studying the development of infants, toddlers and children provide many educational moments. The overarching theme of “Nature and Nurture” encourages students to engage with complex genetics and environments, shifting them from rigid, black-and-white ways of thinking to darker, more flexible perspectives. It also enables them to see the control they may have over their development.
They introduce a course on research methods to investigate their family members about their childhood development so that they can analyze themselves according to the various theorists we learn from – Freud, Erickson, Piaget, etc. The result is an autobiography—in various creative forms—that combines her findings with her analysis of different psychological approaches. Encouraging students to engage with their families in this way also provides a unique opportunity for dialogue, connection, and remembrance at a time when many teens are turning their parents away.
Next is a unit on youth. After exploring hormones, personalization, and identity development, we begin to gain a deeper understanding of the brain. Neuroscience research is an effective way to discuss differences in executive function development, substance abuse, and learning because it teaches less about preaching and more about empowering adolescents to apply science and research to their preferences, actions, and decisions.
My students are beginning to realize why they hesitate, lose things, make impulsive decisions, and often let emotions guide them. Despite their best efforts to justify drug use, they eventually conceded that it was better to wait until after age 25 when their brains were more fully formed and they learned there were ways to improve their performance Skills – These skills are not set in stone.
The Department of Social Psychology might be more interesting. Adolescents are socially driven but rarely aware of dynamics such as groupthink, bystander effect, herd and mob mentality, and individual behaviors with social consequences, such as delayed gratification and attachment.
Topics in social psychology invite in-depth discussion, application, and speculation. We examine verbal and nonverbal communication, gender construction, oppression and power dynamics, and romantic relationships, as well as the impact of risk-taking and peers on decision-making.
Students design, conduct, and report on a social experiment that is ethical while limiting bias—a fantastic experience for students to navigate these gray areas and apply objective standards of the scientific method on highly subjective issues.
We have researched individual differences and abnormal psychology. Seeing how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has changed over time has given many students an understanding of the subjective and culturally influenced nature of diagnostic and treatment approaches. Students explore what is normal or abnormal about themselves, and a final project illuminates their strengths and challenges in a way that encourages creativity, innovation, and confidence in self-acceptance.
Advantages of Studying Psychology
Psychology is a complex field of study, so it is imperative to highlight the evolving nature of human development research, present multiple perspectives, and acknowledge moral and ethical gray areas. When students feel that you are not imposing their views, they engage in the debate wholeheartedly and develop valuable critical thinking skills.
In my opinion, this field of study is as important as mathematics, science, English, and social studies.
Studying psychology helps our students become cooperative, empathetic citizens. Students want to understand themselves and others, and we as educators have the opportunity to help them gain self-awareness and insight, learn social and emotional skills such as collaboration and communication, and master academic skills such as scientific research. We can help them develop flexible, creative ways of thinking based on multiple perspectives.
About the article
Psychology is a complex field of study, so it is imperative to highlight the evolving nature of human development research, present multiple perspectives, and acknowledge moral and ethical gray areas. Teaching psychology in high school has many benefits. In this article, we’ve discussed The Benefits of a High School Psychology Class.
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