DENISE has chosen the International Primary and Middle Years Curriculum (IPC and IMYC) because theu are specifically designed around the needs of the developing brain to improve the way students learn. It addresses the following five key needs, which are based on recent and consistently proven research:
1) The need to connect learning. Research tells us that the brain learns in an associative way – i.e. connecting new learning to previous learning and adapting previously learned concepts to incorporate new learning. Making connections between the learning of different subjects is just as important as making connections within subjects.
2) The need to make meaning of learning. Because the adolescent brain is at a stage of specialising and pruning connections in a 'use it or lose it' fashion, it is crucial for students to make meaning of their learning to help strengthen the new connections and to ensure that the existing knowledge or skills connections are not lost or pruned.
3) The need to take risks. Teenagers also don't view risk in the same way that adults do. As teachers, we need to create opportunities for teenagers to be active, practise their decision-making skills and to be given the opportunity to take risks during their learning, but to do so in a safe environment.
4) The need for peer validation. Peers play an increasingly important role in validation for teenagers as they move from childhood towards adulthood.
5) The need for structure and discipline. Adolescents' prefrontal cortex is in flux during the teenage years; specialising and maturing. As a result, teenagers need extra support with behaviours affected by the executive function such as self-organisation, decision-making and self-control.