This article throws light upon the top seven factors affecting period of Adolescence. The factors are: 1. Generation Gap 2. Emotional Instability 3. Career Consciousness 4. Treating the Adolescents 5. Good Literature 6. Socialisation 7. Proper Teaching Methods.
Period of Adolescence: Factor # 1.
It is the adolescent who happens to be the most affected because of generation gap. The adolescent lives in the peerage company, representing a changing society, a society in a state of flux. Those are the changes which the established society of the adults cannot accord recognition; it would, rather, be protesting against the emergence of such a society.
The adolescent is still not matured enough to have developed his own personality to assert his views or attitudes. The society of the adults has ever been ignoring the ideas and the views of the adolescents, entailing a constant struggle between an established society and the society labouring to be emerged.
And, the adolescent is the worst prey of this struggle. He or she will ever have to remain in a state of tension to have his or her own way in regard to the fashion of dress, the hair-style, the ways of talking and in behaving according to his or her own beliefs and convictions. The generation gap is apparently perceivable in the clash between the adolescents and the established society of the adults.
Stone et al, and Hopkins have shown how the adolescents gradually cease to be “parent-oriented” and shift into “peer-orientation”; and a clash ensues between the society of the adults and the society of the adolescents. The drifting away of the adolescents, in some cases, may make them drag- addicts and lax in character—so strong happens to be the impact of the peer-group.
Times are fast changing; explosion of knowledge, because of supercomputer era as at present, is so bewildering for the ageing generation that they cannot understand why the adolescents believe as they do, and, behave as they do.
Since authority is vested in the adult society, the adolescents have to struggle hard to establish their identity. In some cases, the knowledge and skills of the adult generation become obsolete for the adolescents, and the adults cannot earn what is so important a knowledge for the present age; nor, can they acquire skills in the use of new technologies.
Generation gap, because of this fact, also aggravates difficulty for the adolescents.
Period of Adolescence: Factor # 2.
The period of adolescence is a period of difficulty also because of emotional instability. As, during the period one moves fast towards the climax of development—physical, mental and emotional, one has to traverse through a period of fast changes also.
Fast physical changes, and fast growing mental abilities and self-consciousness, make one more jittery because of the difficulties in adjustment to so many changes, and because of consciousness to new problems, to new responsibilities which the adult generation wants him to shoulder, while at the same time, he or she is not considered matured enough to be entrusted with the same.
Because of excess of sex and some other hormones, the restraint over the flow and bursting of emotions, becomes very difficult.
The adolescent gets angry very easily; grows jittery because of physical changes, especially because of menstruation or ejaculation. Now, the boy or girl is cognitively very much developed; he or she can better understand his or her situations, is more conscious of problems ahead, and, is matured enough to think of his or her career also.
All this makes the adolescent prone to anxiety. In spite of the fact that the adolescence is a period of development in all fields, emotionally, he or she suffers the short-comings of being unstable, rash, and sometimes reckless.
An adolescent happens to be very emotional; very sensitive. Sometimes, he gets nervous through the ebbs and flows of emotions. He is having more of self-consciousness, and when he feels his self to have been hurt, he loses control over himself; he may either get very upset, or, may grow nervous when he finds the entire situation to be against him. The adolescent should be treated with sympathy, with sensitivity.
Of course, it is a period of extremity; in case of favourable situations, in case of successes and recognition of his work and worth, he feels highly exulted; but in case of reverses, he may feel very dejected. Lack of patience and tolerance is witnessed in his behaviour. Adolescent needs to be taught lesson into temperance, into moderation, the qualities which he or she, generally lacks.
A strict handling to crush the bursting of adolescent’s emotions, may distort the temperamental health of the adolescent. In many cases, too strict fathers, were found to be responsible for spoiling their children; the latter grow rebels on attaining adolescence or adulthood—due freedom of work and thinking ought to be allowed to the adolescent, lest his/her development should be thwarted.
Valentine studied 2,000 students, and found the girls to be, rather, more sensitive than boys.
Though, sometimes, both of them grow extremely nervous—it is the age when one may even attempt to commit suicide. Adolescents, generally, happen to be very ambitious, too— they dream of becoming great (often emulating their models); and when hurdles, one after the other, break their dreams, they get frustrated.
In his book, Valentine writes that the main reasons behind the mental trouble of his subjects were—too much self-consciousness, an uncommon state of inferiority complex, bitter relations with parents, sometimes a repulsive attitude towards religion, and growing repulsive to its tenets, getting apprehensive and harbouring a sense of hatred at the initial experience of sex… or the social evils which he or she still considers himself or herself quite unable to do anything about, until freedom of action is allowed.
An adolescent also gets uneasy when there are no occasions for self- expression, for which he or she happens to be so keen. Through the tools of a questionnaire and interview, Rutter et al. have tried to find out how far psychiatric disorder is a fact and a fiction as regards the adolescents.
Their findings are to the effect that only one-fifth of the adolescents reported on the questionnaire that they often felt miserable or depressed; but that nearly half of the subjects were suffering from miserable feelings—though in interviews, a much smaller number actually appeared sad. (Table 17.4). Severe clinical depression was rare to be found though inner turmoil to some degree was there.
Rutter et al., conclude—”adolescent turmoil is a fact, not a fiction, but its psychiatric importance has probably been over-estimated in the past.”
Period of Adolescence: Factor # 3.
During the latter years of adolescence, as one proceeds towards adulthood, one starts feeling concern about one’s career. The selection of courses and subjects is made with the targeted career in mind. The adolescent attains the adult level of cognitive development before he or she is actually adult.
Because of this development, an adolescent understands where lie the best chances for his bright career; and how he needs to prepare himself for such a career.
In some cases, the adolescent may not have attained that level of career- consciousness, and, the fact makes the parents jittery; they go on goading their children for working hard and regularly for the desired career.
The situation may cause tension for the adolescent. But a state of short-timed, unemployment does not leave a traumatic impression, it may make one apprehensive. Those who have to leave the school early because of economic pressure, or other reason in the family, would naturally be distressed if they fail to get a job.
Banks and Ullah have presented a psychological analysis of the personal consequences of youth unemployment. The studies aimed at gauging distress, anxiety, and so on of the unemployed youth; how far such a state was responsible for a feeling of dissatisfaction or unhappiness among the school leaving adolescents.
If youth have attained the age of employability, and do not get a job in spite of making all efforts, it lowers self-esteem and brings a kind of stigma to them.
The problem starts not only on attaining the age of employability but the adolescents start feeling concern for the problem even when they are still students—such acute is the problem of unemployment. Some unscrupulous people in our society may even think of swindling such youth through assuring them of good jobs.
Period of Adolescence: Factor # 4.
Treating the Adolescents:
Adolescence is a period of great importance as it is the period of fast and vast development in all fields—physical, mental and emotional. It is through adolescence that a child grows to full adulthood. Nevertheless, it is a period of storm and stress (G Stanley Hall)—as has already been described above. Hence, a very sensible and sensitive handling of the adolescent is required.
A rough handling, blind to the developmental nature of adolescence, and to the needs of the adolescent, may spoil this most creative period of the life of a person. Here, are given some suggestions as to what ought to be done in regard to an adolescent so that this period may actually prove to be a channel to lead a child through, to the stage of a wholesome adulthood.
There is spurt in physical growth. The adolescent would naturally be inclined to join a lot many physical activities. Depending upon the family environment and the peerage, he or she may join some gym, sports-club, or may like to play a game that is offered to him or her. In a good school, physical drills are conducted regularly for a proper physical build of the adolescents.
Games and physical activities should be in adequate variety looking to the age, physique and gender of the children. They should be such that the children may indulge into them with great interest and gusto. If a congenial environment in this respect is not provided to the adolescent, it will cause a life-long loss-physical, and indirectly mental and emotional also.
An adolescent happens to be full of energy, and a desire to do something of remark so that others may be attracted towards him, is natural. If no scope for proper activities is available to him, he may go astray, and turn a delinquent and a criminal also, if guardians do not care about the company that their ward is having.
Surging sexual urges may get a sublimating channelization in the form of physical activities, otherwise the innocent adolescent, under the onset of pubescence, may ruin himself or herself.
The importance of physical activities is two-folds; first, it is the most suitable period of life when, through appropriate physical exercise, a well-built muscular body may be developed; secondly, the brimming youthful energies may be creatively utilised for physical development.
If this period is suitably utilised, some may turn out into outstanding players, sportsmen, gymnasts, swimmers, shooters and others. Contrary to this, if this period is wasted with no physical efforts, later on, achievement cannot be of the desired level.
Outing, tracking, mountaineering, Yogasana (boy scouts and girl guides)—a lot of activities are there, the adolescent should be given a chance to try one or some out of these many, and, develop himself or herself enjoying the activity to the full. Such activities make the environment stimulating, sublimating and developing.
Adolescence is the period when emotions of happiness, of grief, of anxiety and frustration, of anger and love, have great force.
They are strong enough to do or undo. If the energy released by these emotions, is properly utilised constructively, the life will develop as desired, and if the emotions are let loose with no reins over them in an environment with no constructive programmes at all, they will prove to be forces which can undo life.
Music, drawing and painting; collecting rarities, reciting and composing poems or stories or expressing oneself in one or the other literary or artistic form, are the activities that an adolescent would like to be indulged into. These activities would provide a sublimating channel for the forceful emotions of the adolescents.
These are the activities which moderate the emotions, and channelize their force for the development of a better personality. None can morally be good whose emotions have not been sublimated through literary and artistic pursuits, or through some programme of social service. Games and sports help in emotional development, too.
Emotional training may be provided to students through their playing dramas where emotions are expressed with wholesome impact both upon the performers and the audience. Emotions prove good for development when the same are utilised for literary and artistic activities.
Parents should encourage their wards to pursue such activities. Suitable environment ought to be provided for the pursuance of the same. Schools should also provide motivation and guidance to their students in developing themselves in the fields of art and literature.
Let there be umpteen activities to be selected from, as hobbies for the adolescents. Let there be hobby clubs for photography or activities based on the use of a computer, and so on. The students will not only be earning skills in different fields but their emotions will also be getting sublimated along with.
Period of Adolescence: Factor # 5.
Interest in reading rapidly grows during adolescence. This interest should be further inculcated by the adults of the family, and teachers of the school. If during this period, one does not develop interest in reading, it would hinder one’s scholastic progress.
Only such students can grow into eminent scholars who are voracious readers. But equally important is the fact that the children should read only the good books, with contents which can instill wholesome and useful ideas and feelings into their fast growing and highly impressionable minds.
Especially, the period of pubescence is such when the children are likely to be inclined towards the reading of pornographic literature. It is the duty of parents at home and of teachers at school to see that the boys and girls of this age easily get to read interesting and useful literature befitting to their mental level.
These books may be of varied types—picture books, illustrated stories, biographies, books on travels and adventurous deeds— historical or fictional, poems, novels, dramas and so on. The curiosity of the children should be fully satisfied.
Books on geography, history, science and other subjects, should also be made available as per interest of the children. A good library, and a well-set and rich reading room—is an important need of every school.
Period of Adolescence: Factor # 6.
When we read Piaget for his theory of cognitive development, we feel that the process of development is concerned with the individual child, and is the result, mainly, of biological maturity—social perspective does not get its due importance in Piaget’s postulation.
Margaret Donaldson and her colleagues demonstrated how the child’s competence to take others’ perspectives into view, in regard to tasks which have social significance, increases with age. This shows the individual child’s social development which is important for cognitive development also. The importance of socialisation from this angle was never realised by Piaget.
According to Piaget, the years when one reaches to the apex level of cognitive development, are the years of adolescence; in achieving this stage, socialisation has its very important contribution to make.
Hence, it is for the parents and teachers to see that the growing child gets a very suitable social milieu where he can indulge himself into a variety of activities offering occasions for rich interactions. The cognitive and moral development has very positive correlation with the social milieu of an individual.
Adolescence is the period when one moves into a continuously widening circle of companions. First, his peerage was confined to a few of his class- fellows; by and by he crosses the boundary of his class, makes friendship with many of his school-mates.
Students come in contact with one another while indulging in curricular and co-curricular activities such as games, sports, scouting, outing, excursions or tours or picnic and so on. An adolescent becomes keenly interested in moving with his companions. Their number rapidly increases. An adolescent may like to join clubs of different types.
All this makes the adolescent very much social; and, the environments provided by these different social circles, help in his multi-faceted development. The parents and teachers should provide guidance to the adolescents in making suitable choice of social circles. If the urge for companionship makes one blind as to its nature, he or she may ruin his or her career. It is here that the parents’ and teachers’ role is called for.
The impact of teachers, and, of some other adults that the adolescent comes in contact with, also happens to be very important. But the greatest impact happens to be that of the peer-group. In some matters, the adolescent even may not listen to his parents neglecting his peers; the parents need not lose temper but should persuade their child to see the reason if peers’ effect is for a wrong choice.
When Vygotsky writes that human beings are subject to dialectical interplay between biological and cultural factors—he underlines the importance of cultural factors that is of the social environment; he thus challenges the Piagetian lopsided developmental psychology.
Period of Adolescence: Factor # 7.
Proper Teaching Methods:
The adolescent happens to be very creative, very active so the creative approach would suit him in the process of teaching-learning—a lot of activities should be introduced as means to learning and development.
This is the period of life where the child grows argumentative; he achieves adult level of development in reasoning, hence the approach and methods should be such which boost the natural process of cognitive development.
Instead of spoon-feeding the students with ready-made answers, they should be actively involved in the development of the lesson through Heuristic method, that is, question-answer method. Problems should be presented before the students to make them think; think seriously, think deeply to find out answers to the problems.
Such methods would greatly help in further sharpening their faculty of reasoning. Probing questions will very much enhance the faculty of thinking. Some practical problem, related to real life, may be presented, and through questions, such a matter may be elicited which alone can lead to the solution of the problem.
Question-answer method provides maximum occasions for interaction in the class. A state of suitable group-dynamism develops. Wright HF and his colleagues write that seventy per cent of the events that happen to a child in a school happen to be the result of interactions that take place in the school every day because of varied activities.
The teaching method should be such which gives maximum occasions for interactions; and which organises these interactions into very useful repertoires of experiences to fall back upon for learning new items.
Project-method is also a very suitable method for adolescent students. It would provide adequate occasions for creativity where the best learning, through doing, will take place and the students will be amply interacting to one another.
Discovery or inquiry method would suit to the inclination and needs of the adolescent. The problem should be distinct to him. The situation should be suitable for the student to conduct discovery freely and properly.
All the needful physical facilities ought to be available to the discoverer. The role of the teacher should be that of a facilitator; supporting the onward journey of the learner towards the target. The teacher should remain an alert observer to step in only when he feels that the taught is likely to go astray.
First hand information, through observation, happens to be more distinct, more enduring. And, an adolescent can like nothing more than learning through tours and excursions. The adolescents should be taken for outings to observe zoos, museums, exhibitions and others; and, to factories, bank and post-office to teach them their functions and so on.
Learning by doing is a very important maxim as given by John Dewey who favoured the empirical approach. For imparting education to the adolescents, this would prove to be a very effective guiding principle.
And, the most important thing that the school should do is to provide effective sources of inspiration to push on and to endeavour hard to emulate. The adolescent day dreams; generally, someone or the other would catch his imagination as a hero—hero-worship is an important characteristic of an adolescent.
It is for teachers to present such models before the students who can inspire them to develop themselves into the desirable form of personalities.
And, the last but not the least, that is required for the adolescent student, is an understanding teacher, a sensitive teacher who knows and can realise under what strain an adolescent is working—he and she are confused because of sudden spurt of physical changes, because of strong onset of sexual urges, and, of emotional disturbances, and so on.
The teacher should serve as a very trustworthy counselor for them. His behaviour should be sympathetic and encouraging. He should possess the qualities of an erudite teacher whose moral character is very high so that he may very well serve as a model for the students to emulate.
If the parents are authoritarian, and the teacher is insensible, the adolescent would either grow frustrated and neurotic, or may turn into a delinquent.