Educational Scenarios

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Educational Scenario 1: Identity Formation in Adolescents

Adolescence is one of the most confusing phases in a child’s life – it is s phase marked by the beginning of puberty and start of young adulthood (Klimstra & Doeselaar, 2017). Many changes occur during this time, which the child finds overwhelming and sometimes even difficult to handle. Adolescents undergo physical, emotional and cognitive changes all at the same time – their bodies grow fast, they reach puberty, their sexual organs become fully functional (menarche in girls and with sperm ejaculation in boys), they become extremely self-conscious and a process of identity development sets in (Özdemir, Utkualp & Palloş, 2016).Erikson (1950, 1968) explained adolescent identity formation as a process of accepting the newfound changes in the body, while also achieving social continuity in order to escape confusion of roles in social functions. Therefore, the girl who used to run around the school playground with her mates before reaching puberty is now quite quiet and composed during lunchtimes. Ella does not run around anymore with boys and girls of her age, lest her physical changes become obvious. Being extremely conscious of herself and her bodily changes (including menarche), combined with the fact that she still has to wear her old dress to school exposing her legs more than she wants, her natural defence is less movement and covering her body with a coat all the time. She has withdrawn into a shell, upon reaching adolescence, while struggling to find a place for her new self in the society. However, Thomas’ response upon reaching adolescence is quite the opposite. Unlike Ella, he doesn’t withdraw; instead, he becomes more assertive in figuring out his new identity. He reconciles with his physical and mental changes by deciding to get noticed more. He achieves being popular among his peers, his small frame notwithstanding, by turning himself “a loudmouth and a joker”. This is his identity formation, his “way to compensate” for growing differently in adolescence. Therefore, it is typical for 10-12 year olds to have experiences as Ella and Thomas, and each child forms his/her own identity in her own ways as adolescent identity formation and development trends vary from one individual to another (Luyckx, et al., 2013).

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