The English Language Arts in the Secondary School

By National Council of Teachers of English | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 2
The Adolescent the Teacher Faces

No SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHER and his students need to meet as strangers on the first day of the school year. It is inconceivable that any teacher can be completely unaware of what adolescents are like. Such a wealth of material is available on adolescents that even the inexperienced teacher knows, theoretically at least, the characteristics of twelve- to eighteenyear-olds. Headlines in newspapers, feature articles in popular magazines, serious studies in the general magazines, and scientific reports in educational periodicals, pamphlets, and books--all these are reminders to teachers that adolescence is a period of storm and stress, of conflict of loyalties, and of eagerness for security, for recognition, and for an opportunity to become increasingly independent of adult direction and supervision.

A knowledge of adolescents as a total group is important as a backdrop against which the teacher views his own adolescents in action. Unless the teacher is informed concerning the physical, mental, and emotional characteristics of twelveto eighteen-year-olds and the language characteristics which become evident during these years, he may be alarmed or disappointed by his day-to-day experiences with individual members of his classes.

The secondary school teacher need not meet a specific group of adolescents as strangers if he has had access, before the opening day of school, to the cumulative records of the individuals whom he is to teach. These records usually include the individual's health history, family data, mental test

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