I felt compelled to write something on the urgent need tohelp young people understand and manage the big life transition moments, therites-of-passage experiences that shape who we are and what we believe aboutourselves and others.
There are many transitionary moments in a young person’slife, and all can be fences that can unsaddle and bring them tumblingdown.
These rites of passage moments were described to me by afriend as water obstacles, which we need to cross or navigate, if we are tohave a successful life – we start with puddles, then becks, then streams, ponds, thenrivers, then estuaries, lakes, seas and then finally the mighty oceans, and eachone of these water barriers are linked to an age for instance 3, 5, 7, 11, 16,18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, then retirement and finally death.
These key transitions for young people might be:
- First day at nursery (away from mum)
- First day at infant school
- First day at junior school
- First day at secondary school
- First kiss
- First fight
- First date
- First boy/girl friend
- First day at college
- First time you have sex
- First heartbreak/rejection/disappointment
- First time you get drunk
- First death
- First day of apprenticeship, University, work
- First day you move out of home
- First pay check
- Engagement, marriage
- First child
And so the circle of life begins again.
At Arrival Education we are constantly supporting and handholding young people through these tricky but essential moments, as they shapeour understanding of life.
We certainly don’t want to avoid them, as they form much ofour experience of the journey of life.
However, without the right guidance and framework, many are deeplywounded or hurt through the confusion and disruption that failed attempts tounderstand what these experiences might mean to them. Many become psychologicallystuck in that moment, frozen in time, due to the experience and the decisionsthat were made at that point in time. This internalising process leads to keydecisions about who we are, what we think about life and what we choose todo with it.
These rites-of-passage moments are central to how we learnand develop, each are stepping stones that ultimately take us into adulthood, into healthy (none destructive nurturing) partner relationships, parents and into positive role models andcitizens.
Each transition point needs understanding and attention, aswell as some sort of experiential framework to help them cognitively understandand process it, so they can make sense and internalise it for themselves. Whatwe believe is our reality after all.
What if these transition experiences, these landmark moments, were part of our educational curriculum?It would help young people make sense and calm a great manyfears, soothing anxieties and giving them a language for these sometime overwhelmingexperiences.
As decisions will be made by all on how these experiencesare played out. It will colour much of how life occurs, as well as the decisionsthey make in the future, how and what they learn and who they taketheir signals from.
What if these transition moments were more important thanbooks, classroom learning, exams and school? What if we learnt the school oflife in school?