Imagine you are in a plane, flying to New York from Paris. You have been in the air for some hours when a voice comes on over the PA system. “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. I think we are getting pretty close to New York now, I’ve definitely seen clouds like this near New York before and that turbulence 5 minutes ago is to my mind pretty typical of flying over Long Island, so we’re going to lose some altitude, get beneath the clouds and see if we can see the Statue of Liberty. Please do tell your stewardess if you see anything you recognise…” Mass panic ensues.

Or maybe you are driving with a friend when you notice that they – the driver – have their eyes closed! You reach over to shake their arm and shout “wake up!” “Oh no”, they answer, “I’m not asleep. I just find it very distracting looking at where I am going, so I tend to navigate by the bumps in the road. I can usually tell if we have run off the road into someone’s garden…” “Let me out,” you say.

We expect the people in charge to know where we are going and exactly where we are, right now.

Except… isn’t that a little how we expect parents and teachers to navigate their responsibilities to teenagers? We say “Oh well, there’s no maps when you are dealing with teenagers (chortle chortle), just hang on in there and one day you will figure out what was going on…” So we carry on, doing our best and waiting for the next bump in the road or bit of turbulence and hoping we will be able to interpret it better than we did the last one.

So what if…

What if, as a parent, you could remind yourself (for example) that this teenage child needs lots of enthusiasm from you, while that one needs time to think before responding to situations? What if, as a teacher, you could look at your class and think “those three are going to need to have some interactive debate pretty soon, or I am going to lose them; but I had better do a quick reminder of what will happen in the rest of this class for those four, first. And if I send Will out to collect those books from the bookroom now, we might just get some attention span that will run until lunchtime…”

We have – unfortunately – made teenagers into more of a mystery than they need to be. Yes, there is stuff going on in the teenage brain that mirrors what happens during the ‘terrible twos and threes’. Yes, there is all kinds of emotional and physical development happening, with attendant heightened levels of hormones and who knows what else going on. As a result, yes, the average teenager may not be able to tell you what they want or what the problem is. But that is a long way from saying that teenagers are fundamentally unknowable. (Actually, most adults can’t tell you what they want or what the problem is, either; they just hide it better). There is information there, if only we know how to get at it.

What we have done with hoozyu is build a platform that will help the teenager understand themselves better while at the same time providing parents, teachers, mentors, youth workers – whoever – with objective data on the young people they are working with. Although there is a range of data in hoozyu, the two most powerful categories tell us a) what matters to this young person in terms of motivation and perspective; and b) what do they value most and need in their interactions with others (including their interactions with you)? All the data has a built in population reference point (this kid is way above the mean with regard to how much visual stuff matters to them, most people need more time to think than that young person does) and if you are looking at a group – a class or cohort – the data you have gives you a picture of all the members, both absolutely and in comparison to one another: “this half of the class needs more clarity and more to do, this half needs less direction and more suggestion”; “these kids love numerical analysis for its own sake, these ones need to see it more as a mechanical process they can master – and I might need to do some higher level stuff around the underlying ideas for these two…”

Not only does this approach equip the parent or teacher with objective insight and the ability to know what will work, but it also reinforces to the young person, far more than a report alone can do, who they are and what really works for them.

So if you currently feel like New York should be somewhere down there under the clouds, but are a bit nervous to look in case it it really an Icelandic volcano about to blow its top – perhaps it is time for a better navigation system.

Parents: You can buy hoozyu for your teenager(s) – and yourself! – at
Education: If you are a teacher or administrator in a secondary or tertiary institution, find out more about hoozyu:classroom for teachers and hoozyu:analytics for educational administrators by contacting