The term adolescence is derived from the Latin word Adolescence, which means to grow to maturity. It is a critical stage of development which lies between later childhood and maturity, emerging from childhood and merging into adulthood.
During this period of development great physical and mental changes occur. Therefore, the stage of development is a period of uncertainly when everything is in ferment. Stanley Hall defined adolescence as “a period of great strain, stress and storm and strife”.
Adolescence in not a sudden spurt of growth the new traits and tendencies do not appear suddenly. No individual sleeps at night as a child to get up as an adolescent in the morning. Growth comes in continuity.
There is a continuity of development from infancy to early childhood, from early childhood to later childhood and then to adolescence. No two stages in the development are clearly marked off.
Even the adolescent himself does not feel any sudden change. Endocrine glands were already working but they are more active now. However, sex glands now are active. This is a significant change in this stage and it affects the whole organism.
Time at the Advent of Adolescence and Duration
The physical signs of adolescence occur between the ages of 12 and 18 in India. But there are differences due to sex, climate, race and individual constitution. Generally boys grow to be adolescent in their thirteenth year while the girls in their twelfth year. The individual differences are always there. The duration of adolescence ranges between five and eight years.
Physical Characteristics of the Stage
1. Rapid growth.
2. Growth not uniform and proportionate.
3. Different rate of growth of boys and girls.
4. Increase in modern activities.
5. Sense of clumsiness.
6. More significant growth of reproductive organs.
Mental, Moral and Emotional Characteristics
3. Imaginative Activity.
4. Development of Special Intellectual Interests.
5. Contrasting Mental Moods.
6. Revolt to Authority.
7. Moral Awakening-No Acceptance of Sermons without critical evaluation.
Problems of the stage of adolescent
The adolescent is a problem-individual. There are many problems around him and he needs help and guidance for their solution at every step. The following problems are the most significant in this stage.
1. Excessive Energy:
Adolescence is the stage of excessive energy. In-take of food is increased in this stage and general health is also improved. The result is excessive energy. The adolescent needs more activity for catharsis of excessive energy.
Our traditional schools do not provide such physical activity. Consequently, the adolescent is restless. Various activities act as sublimation for the adolescents and they feel relieved.
2. Misunderstandings Concerning Sex
With the advent of adolescence the gonads come into activity for the first time. The appearance of secondary sexual characteristics is due to the same. They produce emotional upheaval in the adolescent.
The first appearance of menstrual course or nocturnal emission bewilders and shocks the adolescent who is quite ignorant about it. The school should supply right kind of information regarding sex at this stage. Due to ignorance about sex, many promising personalities are doomed.
3. Aggressiveness or Withdrawal
When an adolescent cannot adjust himself with the world, he grows to be aggressive or withdraws from the field and his personality is arrested. If the conflict is too serious, he regresses.
The school should provide ample opportunities to the children to express themselves properly. Co curricular activities, scouting student self-government and changed methods of instruction can go a long way in enabling the adolescent to adjust him with the world.
4. Rebellious Attitude
The adolescents are no more children. They should be recognized as young men and women in the school as well as in the home. Their craving for independence should be satisfied to some extent. They should be given some responsibility.
They turn to be very obedient if they are trusted. But things do not work so smoothly in ordinary schools and homes. Their sense of independence and responsibility is seldom recognised. The result is rebellion against authority.
5. Physical Awkwardness
Most of the adolescents have the feeling of physical clumsiness. Consequently their movements stand to be awkward and unbalanced. They may be corrected in the playground and on the stage. Games and dancing will give them harmonious and balanced movements. Social service at the occasion of festivals etc. and practical work can help the children in this respect.
6. Excessive Day-Dreaming
Day-dreaming is normal at this stage but when it grows to excessive it may be injurious as far as development of personality is concerned. The teacher should note that the adolescents are active and busy in their studies and other aspects of school life. The children indulging in excessive daydreaming should be encouraged to be constructive and creative.
Role of the teacher in solving problems and proper physical, mental, emotional and social development of the adolescent:
1. Proper Physical Development
The teacher should plan for this aspect in the following manner :
(a) By organizing various types of physical exercises, sports and games,
(b) By imparting a proper knowledge about physical and health education.
(c) By organizing various types of extracurricular activities.
2. Proper Mental Development
The mental development of the adolescent should be according to the following lines:
(a) It should be according to the ability and aptitude of the pupils.
(b) They should study both arts and science subjects.
(c) Excursions to various places may be organized.
(d) Modern methods of teaching should be used to teach various subjects.
(e) All the school teachers should try to impart him necessary guidance as and when required.
(f) They should be entrusted with responsibility so as to develop a feeling of responsibility in them.
(g) The teacher should keep in view that there are individual differences among students. Every child should be able to find out subjects of his choice.
3. Proper Emotional Development
The emotional development of the adolescent should be as follows:
(a) The teacher should try to sublimate the lower emotions of the child.
(b) A healthy emotional atmosphere should be maintained in the school.
(c) The teacher should try to avoid frustration among the adolescents.
(d) The teacher should pay due regard to the personality of every child.
(e) The adolescent should be imparted proper knowledge about sex. If this aspect is properly attended to it would lead to a better emotional development.
4. Proper Social Development
The social development of the adolescent may be as follows:
(a) He should have knowledge about social relations and he should know the art of group-living. Various group activities may be organized.
(b) A right and rational attitude towards democracy should be developed in the school atmosphere. This would enable the child to develop his own philosophy of life.
(c) The Kothari Commission has emphasized the instruction of moral and spiritual values. We should try to impart a right and rational knowledge of various religions to the adolescent.