Workshop on Adolescence for Middle School students by School Counsellor

Posted by on Mar 24, 2023 in School News | Comments Off

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin

School Counsellor, Ms Meghna Joshi, held a workshop named, ‘Mapping Transitions: Cruising through Adolescence’, on 22 March 2023 for the middle school students. The session aimed at facilitating the students in adapting to the physical and emotional challenges brought forth by this developmental period. Power point presentations on GIFS (moving images) and memes were used since the students belong to a generation which predominantly communicates through these visuals.

The session commenced with the facilitator asking the students to reflect on two terms – ‘cruising’ and ‘transition’. Adolescence was decoded as a confusing period of ‘in-betweenness’, where the young person is not as dependent as a child, yet without the autonomy of an adult. A pandemic meant that a lot of students entered puberty at a time when they were cut off from the rest of the world and experienced these changes in the absence of a collective dialogue around them. It was explained to them that these ordinary yet confusing transitory states call for a conversation on what they can expect as adolescents, what are the developmental milestones, the psychological relevance of this period and the possible points of crisis.

The children were asked to share their associations on marauders map, a map notably seen in the Harry Potter series. They correctly guessed that it was a map used by the movie characters to navigate the confusing structure of Hogwarts. The students were asked to utilise the contents of the workshop to create their own marauders map that would help them map their journey. The physical changes that take place in their bodies were briefly discussed in order to normalise these changes for them. The distinctions in the bodies of girls and boys were also talked about. After a brief conversation on the physical changes, the focus shifted to the psychological relevance of this period.

Using Erikson’s framework, they were educated on the relevance of the sense of ‘I’ (Who am I? What do I like? What do I dislike?). In a round of activity, they were asked to actively reflect on their heroes, the characters they adore, the stories and songs that express their feelings the best. Some of their responses brought out names of characters that spoke to their inner selves. For example, a student spoke about how a stoic and silent character from Star Wars addressed his inner world more than his peers. Other examples of questions from the students included their dilemma on how to navigate the space between what they want and what their families want, how to recognise unhealthy friendships and coping mechanisms.

These questions were addressed through Marcia’s theory on identity development. The children were again invited to share their understanding of what they understand by identity. It was collectively understood by them as a sense of their ‘Pehchaan’, their unique sense of ‘I’. Terms liken psycho-social moratorium (a necessary period of self-exploration and reflection within a supportive environment which is encouraging and tolerant of failure) and identity achievement (a consolidated sense of who are we) were discussed.

Possible points of crisis such as peer pressure, difficulties around body image, the toxic influence of social media and unhealthy friendships were also explored. Marcia’s theory and these points of crisis were woven together to encourage the students to participate proactively for their own well-being. Fostering curiosity and actively exploring their own possibilities as well as limits was reinforced. They were encouraged to choose friendships wisely whilst also striving to be better friends. Furthermore, they were advised to develop a healthy body image which is rooted in reality. Failure and crisis were normalised for them, enabling them to strive for success without falling apart in times of crisis.

Overall, it was a great learning experience for the middle schoolers with many takeaways.

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