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Document Type

Praxis

Abstract

In addition to the many social and physiological changes occurring during adolescence and young adulthood, young people also experience rapid neurological development between the age of 12 years old and the early 20s.1 In particular, the prefrontal cortex becomes increasingly efficient, “enabling adolescents to plan their lives, to analyze possibilities, and to pursue goals.”2 These particular cognitive abilities (executive functions) are necessary for successful transitions to adulthood3 and are highly influenced by experience. Unfortunately, many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are often at-risk for delayed or ineffective development of the skills needed to succeed in high school and post-secondary education. As high schools and colleges across the United States continue to improve programming for underserved populations, Jesuit institutions stand in a prime position to support such students’ development, both from mission and pedagogical standpoints. In reviewing a simulation-based training program at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver, Colorado, I explore how the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP) and neuroscience research complement one another. Specifically, I consider the implications that the IPP and the development of executive functions have for Jesuit institutions serving students from disadvantaged backgrounds as these students encounter transitional experiences.

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