The adolescence stage (12-18 years) is a time in personal development when lots of social mechanisms start to shape. Relations with school environment, peers and family are all parts of preparation process that leads to adult life. The period of adolescence is a very important and difficult time – often a time of personal rebellion that young people go through. What happens at that time may be, and very often is, crucial to personal development.
The shaping of sexual roles is a very important process, as well as the acceptance of the physical changes that happen to the body, becoming the individual independent from the closest grown-ups circle and preparation to the economical independence. Adolescence is a time of the creation of systems of personal and ethical values. Ensuring that it runs as smooth as possible is one of the main task in the time of k12 education.
Mental and intellectual development
The way the brain works changes in the time of adolescence. Immature mental operations are replaced with logical and complex ones. More and more operations are conducted, with the use of logical patterns, on mathematical and geometrical symbols. Not only the observation of the real world brings the conclusions but also the abstract thinking. Imagination is no longer a tool used for playing but also for the creation of logical assumptions and conclusions. The sense of humour shapes in the mind of an adolescent, also the egocentric approach which is very important to the development process. Human beings feel the need to diverse themselves from the environment and other individuals.
Personality and social development
Social groups become extremely significant in the period of adolescence. Interpersonal relations with schoolmates and friends from the outside of the family circle become more intensive. Those social groups give the individual the sense of safety and provide behavioural models that help young people find their identity. The constitution of identity is one of the most important processes of that period. It is a procedure of clarifying and integrating the self consciousness. Sometimes it takes forms that seem to be difficult to accept for the grown-up part of the school environment. Young people form groups of a sub-cultural character and behave in ways that may seem to be strange. They tend to undermine the authority of parents and teachers at that time. Those processes specific to the adolescent phase of development are very often a cause of problems in the time of k12 education. From the perspective of the educators this is a time of challenge. The most important issue here is that adolescents should not be perceived as ‘enemies’ and their behaviour needs to be interpreted correctly in order to help them to go through that (very often difficult) time in their life. It is not easy to deal with that and succeed but it is the future of young people at stake. Those young people will become grown-ups, just like us, in no time. We were just as them not so long time ago. If k12 teachers keep that in mind it will be much easier for them to do their job and guide their students toward the bright future. Nowadays with a wealth of free resources for teachers, educators have instant access to powerful support which helps them greatly with that challenge.