In this day and age of social media and other significant influences on young people, it is easier than ever for teachers, parents and the media to problematise adolescence. Parents may hear stories from other parents or from the media and wait with dread for their own children to enter the 'unmanageable' teen years. Even in universities, pre-service teachers who aspire to teach adolescents are sometimes considered 'game' and a little naive!
In reality it is not all doom and gloom for adolescents and well known academic, Nan Bahr, believes it is unfair to paint adolescents in this way.She makes the point that adolescents are at an exciting point in their maturation and that they are generally thoughtful, caring and responsible people
This is certainly our experience of our young people at Trinity. Parents and teachers appreciate that when we are young it is normal to make mistakes, make poor choices and to sometimes even be caught up in risky behaviours, but the important thing is that we learn from those mistakes, poor choices and behaviours and are mindful of the harm that our actions and words can do to others. The majority of young people try not to make the same mistake twice!
Our Trinity adolescents have the capacity to make very valuable contributions to their school environment, their home life, church, sporting, cultural and social situations and they are regularly recognised for their ability to be discerning, reflective, passionate and energetic. Excellent attributes to have at any age.
As well as the academic development of their students, teachers focus on the social, emotional and moral development of students in their care. This teaching and learning occurs across the curriculum, in specific subject and pastoral care lessons, assemblies, incursions and excursions, chapel services, sports teams, music ensembles, on camp, etc. The emotional learning is vitally important because emotions are central to our growth and maturation. Young people often need to be taught to understand their own emotions as they become more independent and engage more with peers and adults.
Emotions influence and are affected by everything we do and think, and they are subject to the same developmental framework as our physical development. In adolescence young people experience far more complexity in their feelings and in the way they interact with others and not surprisingly, this all happens at the same time that 'the equipment we use to rationalise, control and coordinate our emotional states - the brain- is undergoing significant reform!' (Nan Bahr)
The following extract from, 'Fitting In,' a Year 8 student's account of life as an adolescent in 2005, reminds the reader of just how vulnerable a young person can feel and how important it is for teachers and parents to provide the necessary social and emotional learning, support, encouragement and affirmation. Often, the ability to express one's emotions in writing can be all that a student needs to recognise their own inner strength and then start to flourish.
'Me, a lonely life teenager trying to find herself and a place to fit into in this world. Every day is the same; wake up, have a shower, get dressed, put on the hide and heal makeup over nasty red pimples I attacked last night. Pack my bag, go to school, walk past the popular girls and guys groups. Get to my locker, find my books for the first lesson, wonder if I should just ring my mum and pull a sicky so I don't have to go through another day of torture. I mean, no one would even notice I wasn't at school.'
Thank you to all parents and care givers for supporting your children and their teachers during Semester 1. Reports will be available on the Parent Portal next week and I wish all students and their families a relaxing, safe and refreshing holiday break.
Ref: The Millennial Adolescent, Nan Bahr & Donna Pendergast 2007
Mrs Carrie Allwood
Head of Campus, Middle & Senior Years