They were once considered our inferior, brutish relatives, but now researchers are using the story behind early humans to help teenagers understand their emotions.
A new web resource, developed by researchers at the University of York, is providing schools with the tools to allow young people to see what challenges the earliest human ancestors, or later relatives like the Neanderthals, would have faced in keeping their community healthy and fully functioning.
Dr - Penny - Spikins - University - York
Dr. Penny Spikins, from the University of York's Department of Archaeology, said: "The web resource challenges our perceptions of the past as competitive, populated only by the strong and invulnerable, towards a more realistic version of prehistory in which individuals genuinely cared for each other, and where the support of differences and vulnerabilities made humans successful.
"The website includes an animated film which shows the distant past as imagined by a teenager living today, and then their journey to a real past, prompting them to think about the assumptions they make about what it is to be human.
Access - Series - Plans - Schools
"It also provides access to a series of teaching plans designed to be used or adapted in schools."
Rates of depression and self-harm in adolescents are at a global high. In the UK the proportion of 15/16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years.
Research - Years - Life - Capacities - Capacities
Research has shown that it is in the adolescent years of life that complex emotional capacities and capacities for complex moral judgements develop. Experiencing gratitude, for example, is dependent on a complex system of mental abilities, and doesn't develop until around 11 years old, whilst self-control continues to develop into early adulthood.
Archaeologists at York investigated whether understanding these complex emotions could be better understood if schools could help young people explore where some of our emotional processes came from.
Dr - Spikins - Research
Dr. Spikins said: "Our research...
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