August 8, 2019
The draft copy of the new National Education Policy is available for all of us online. One among the many changes it proposes in our education system is to consider the grade nine to grade twelve as one block of learning process, called “ High or Secondary Grade”. There may be more than one reason for this proposal, but I think the consideration of adolescent stage of human development could be the primary reason, which covers the age period of 14 to 18 of a growing personality. A smooth sailing of this period demands a steady atmosphere and a break in the school atmosphere after tenth can set hurdles to a growing person, as the change of school imposes greater strains to adjust to the new environment, new friends, new classmates, new teachers and new curricula. A familiar environment throughout this period can promote faster and steady growth of personality.
What is adolescence? Why adolescence is so significant to a growing person? Why it is labelled as a problematic stage of development? It is a transitional period of growth between puberty/late childhood and adult stage of a human personality, the former as we know, is characterised by parental protection, care and dependence, while the latter is more an autonomous stage of self-determination and life achievements. The stage in between is in some sense precarious as it can lead many astray if certain precautions are not taken. The significance of this stage for all boys and girls is that during this stage they learn to affirm themselves, their freedom, their opinions, their capacities, their creative thinking and most important their own future.
This is a stage to wean away from parental protection and move towards socialization, peer group formation, independent locomotion by taking up programmes and projects that highlight their creativities which should manifest their potentialities, whether through success or failures. This is a stage of planning their future, learning to choose among innumerable options available to build up the future, thus giving a definite orientation towards their future career.
Recent psychological research has highlighted this stage as 'formative period of life', during which noteworthy changes take place in the parts of brain that deal with social situations both structurally and functionally, which manifests in the behaviour of adolescents in a myriad ways. Secondly, they affirm that adolescence is a stage of developing identities through new awareness of self-consciousness of how they should appear before others. This can become a paramount factor for them. Hence comparison with others regarding performance, attire, looks, and bodily features become matters of special attention. All this is a process of exploration and expression among the adolescents.
Vicissitudes of Adolescence
Generally, parents can be assured of a smooth sailing during adolescence if proper environment is created for their life activities. If the peer group with whom they react is well mannered, if the school ambience is excellent, and if there is peace and mutual understanding in the domestic life and abode. Given these safeguards, why the parents should be insecure regarding the growth of their teenager? If one of the factors above provide vicious ambience, there is every reason for the adolescent to go astray. Depending on the circumstances the teenage can get into extreme bad habits like addiction to drugs, smoking alcohol and pornography. Besides, there could be minor turmoil for a teenager like emotional imbalance, occasional depression and a gap between his own self-consciousness and self-control – all these can lead them to behavioural imbalances like anger, arrogance, violent outbursts and the like.
The Parental Support
The parents should deal with their teenagers wisely, knowing well that they are undergoing physical, psychological and social transitions. They should desist from taking a judgemental attitude but be with them to support them in their struggle. They should keep an eye on their friendship circle and provide space to interact with them. The best way they can guide them is not by intervening in their day to day programmes and activities, but cooperate with them to plan their schedule in the school, in the Church and holiday programmes like vacation camps, as these are organised under proper supervision and planning by higher ups.
Parents should maintain distance from their teenagers so that they can experience freedom and they should never preach doctrines of good conduct and exhortations. Rather, dialogue with them, get their feed back of activities and programmes now and then and encourage them by arranging some common programmes like family picnic or be punctually present whenever your child has a role in any activity.
The Role of the Counsellor
Does the counsellor have any role to play during the adolescence? Without any ambiguity we can say that he is indispensable whenever a teenager gets into any addiction. ‘Stich in time saves nine’. Immediate intervention of a counsellor in such cases is a must to save the future of the adolescent. In the School, regular periodic counselling can immensely guide the growth and development of the adolescent in the proper path.
But one special point we can highlight. This is the period of making choices for the future; every adolescent is faced with his own future and the choice of a career is a big question mark to all who wish to become achievers. Sometime they may dream of sublime professional vocations but they may fail to analyse their own capacities and make a wrong choice with long term or lifelong negative repercussions. So I can recommend an aptitude test to all our adolescents during this stage as an indispensable tool of right choice of a career. The psychologists have developed very meticulous aptitude tests which give excellent results exactly pointing the career a person can and should opt. The parents can approach me for more information on this point. The test can be done during any time in the tenth standard, which can convince them to make a right choice for PUC. Even during PUC the test is advisable again, to further specify the future course of action.
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