THE BUILDING UP OF ONE’S IDENTITY
Prof. Miguel Angel Zabalza
Teacher of Paedagogy, University of Santiago de Compostela
It is an honor for me to share with my colleague Italo Fiorin this reflection on adolescence and the way in which adolescents develop their identity. Such a reflection must be conducted within the context of the personal and social development process which binds adolescents to their family, surrounding and school. On the other hand, since this symposium also focuses on the religious dimension, this reflection must necessarily include the issue of “religious identity”. I will discuss this theme from a psychological and educational approach, as a professor of pedagogy, and naturally, as a father and believer.
In my paper, I will try to focus on three aspects:
Identity and its dimensions in adolescence.
The building of personal identity (from an educational and school perspective).
I don’t think that it is possible to define adolescence according to age, because that approach ranks ages which are conditioned by different phenomena, including meteorology, nutrition, child rearing habits and the ways in which adolescents secure their independence from their family of origin. Puberty is the beginning, while youth (increasingly pushed back in time) is considered as the final stage.
A stage in which an individual builds his ego. Being characterized by major transformations in the biological, social, affective and psychological sphere, adolescence is a phase filled with contradictions. An individual experiences insecurity and strength at once, dependence and rebellion; he is self-centered and at the same time open to the world, intellectually distracted while seeking the logic of things. It is a phase greatly conditioned by the biological as well as the social factor (which converts the particular social status of the group to which the adolescent belongs into a factor determining the success or failure of his development). What tends to emerge in this phase is self-assertion as well as the discovery of the other, the quest for autonomy and need to participate. He seeks his parents’ support, but at the same time needs to stand up to them in order to explore new spaces of autonomy.
There are three basic functions around which development revolves during adolescence (they are aspects which greatly influence each adolescent’s particular development process):
The challenges in education. Recovering the past, promises, commitments
Italian Episcopal Conference, European Symposium, Roma 1-4 July 2004