The Fervent Fourteens

Photograph by Jeff Woodward.
Fourteen-year-olds seem to have mostly gotten used to the idea of being teenagers. Their moods are not as mercurial as at thirteen. They are somewhat more comfortable in their own skin and changing bodies. They seem to communicate more easily with each other.

Fourteens’ significant positive attribute is a growing ability to self-evaluate, to be more aware of their own gifts and challenges. They now think and reason more abstractly, showing more adult-like understanding of right and wrong. They express this often by taking sides, being righteous about issues of social justice and fairness at school and in society. Many thrive in classrooms where debate and discussion among students is encouraged, where cooperative projects are graded by student-created rubrics, where mock trials and academic games abound.

At fourteen, the hardest thing to do is to sit and listen to any adult for extended periods of time. Fourteens are convinced that they know what to do or what is expected as soon as an adult begins to speak. They are not, therefore, always good at following directions, but they are great at inventing new ones.

Fourteen-year-olds love their peer cultures. Bonding with a small social group or clique, often to the exclusion of others, is how they get their first apprenticeship experience with the adult values of loyalty and fidelity. Loyalty to the band, a sports team, a service club, or even to a beloved family member usually can provide the kind of positive modeling that helps to build the capacity for fidelity and commitment in later life. The opportunity to practice this positive attribute is key at this age.


In this series based on Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4–14, Chip Wood focuses on the positive developmental attributes generally present in children at different ages.

Tags: 8th Grade, Adolescent Development, Yardsticks Series

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