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standardized development. The adolescent identity must thus perceive its engagements as challenges and ruptures capable of changing the status quo. If holding certain beliefs or exhibiting certain behavioral patterns means espousing the dominating culture (and the perspective imposed by such a culture), adolescents are likely to have a negative reaction, as a sort of additional self-assertion mechanism. It is thus necessary to devise more attractive approaches which challenge and transform the contradictions of the culture of the establishment.

-In any event, we must distinguish between an identity that is built and ohne that is inherited. Often, adolescents need to feel that they themselves are defining their own identity (their identities), and they are not who they are simply because they were born in a specific place. This is absolutely fundamental in the cultural, political and religious sphere. It seems logical to respect this process, though it may involve erratic movements in the adults’ mentality. Adolescents should experiment with their own choices and take on the commitments deriving from them. This learning process is probably more important than the mere acceptance of the cultural models (including religious models) that as their parents or educators we seek to pass on to them.

The challenges in education. Recovering the past, promises, commitments

Italian Episcopal Conference, European Symposium, Roma 1-4 July 2004

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