Aim: to construct a working definition of adolescence
1. Compile your own working definition of adolescence. Write no less than half a page, more if you feel you need to
2. Treat the term as something unfamiliar, as a strange object you have never met before. How would you describe the experience of adolescence to someone from another world, or a place where the teenager did not exist? Write no less than one page.
1. Adolescence – a time of significant physical, intellectual and emotional change and growth, culminating in the commencement of adulthood, transforming individuals from complete dependence and helplessness as infants, to the independence and physical, emotional and social maturity of adulthood.
During adolescence individuals become sexually mature in a process driven by hormones, becoming physically able to produce children of their own. Hormones also drive the appearance, growth and maturation of gender specific features such as facial and pubic hair, breasts and adam’s apples. Adolescents experience new physical growth, with hips and/or shoulders broadening, and the reaching of their adult height, vocal tenor and shoe size. Brains too are maturing and thought processes developing and refining, with adolescents liable to impulsive and risky behaviours based on their ill-founded confidence in their own youth.
Adolescents are hungry for information during this developmental phase, looking for an understanding of their world and their place in it, testing physical, societal and moral boundaries and exploring their own wants, needs and desires. Adolescence is also a time of emotional instability and especially in view of the rate of sexual maturation and refining of emotional intelligence, teens often struggle to control their feelings and find the right emotion for the moment.
2. All humans start off very small, born live and usually screaming and fairly grubby looking.
Beginner humans are helpless and completely dependent on others to have all their needs met. However they don’t stay this way. They expand and become less helpless learning how to feed, clothe and get themselves around. They can now talk, and like to hang out with others of a similar size at shops that sell lollies and hot chips. They decorate their bedroom floors with their clothes and spend most time at home avoiding tasks set by their parents. After ten or twelve human years their basic training in being a human is finished and they begin a new phase called adolescence. This is a dangerous time, not for them but for any other people in their vicinity. Adolescents are mostly confused: about who they are, how they feel, the opposite sex and why is there hair and body lumps where there never used to be hair or body lumps before. They often appear to grow overnight with small weak boys going to bed for the night and emerging the next morning taller than their parents. This quick growth often results in significant levels of awkwardness and/or clumsiness.
Adolescence is the time when humans grow their sex organs. Now they can make new humans of their own and much time is spent selecting and attracting a mate. It appears, especially for some humans, that many mates must be tested before the right one is found. Although adolescent humans can make a new baby most have not left their own nests and made one of their own. Even so prospective mates are sometimes test driven and new humans are made.
Although many adolescents have bigger better working brains than beginner humans or children they often forget this and do silly things, often with the assistance of chemical substances. Adolescents have little interest in any other phase of human development and tend to keep themselves separate from older and younger humans. This way it is easier to ignore the requests and demands of others. However they are still disappointed if older humans cannot read their minds, and refuse to believe that older humans might know anything about them or their feelings. This is often stated as “no you don’t know how I feel and you can’t possibly understand what I am going through.” Speaking these words is a time honoured tradition uttered by countless generations of adolescents. Conversations with an adolescent are usually conducted via arguments or grunts. Adolescents also smell different, usually of pits, tic tacs or week old socks. Adolescents talk, cry and scream a lot, often accompanied by music. They often like to live, and socialise in dark places. When adolescents finally finish this phase, having completed their growth in all dimensions, they become adults and seem to block out all memories of the adolescent phase so they in their turn can misunderstand the next group of adolescents.