Archive for the ‘Introduction’ Category

Tidal Change

I’m playing with the title of my blog. Just as I grow and evolve, so does this blog. I began it almost two years ago and what I know now is that social emotional learning is for all people, all ages, in all settings. And that’s interesting to me. And maybe social emotional learning should have a different name, living a life, a life of learning or no name at all, no neat packaging.

I want this blog to embody the creativity and freedom of growing and learning in a world that can feel constrictive, over-defined and destination bound. We never stop creating ourselves through experience, thought and feeling and our relationship with our world and the people in our lives. I want to write about that.

So I’m reactivating this blog and like me, you will see changes, a new morphing look, a movable title, writing that will include all sorts of themes and subjects. But mostly, it will be honest, curious, and creative. The ingredients, I think, to living a good life.

Thank you for being loyal readers and supporters as I continue to explore what I believe are important themes in this life we live together.


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Adolescence is a new birth, for the higher and more completely human traits are now born. . . . [new]qualities of body and soul now emerge . . . suggestive of some ancient period of storm and stress when old moorings were broken and a higher level attained . . . Passions and desires spring into vigorous life, but with them normally comes the evolution of higher powers of control and inhibition. —G. Stanley Hall 1904

This purpose of this blog is to consider adolescence as the ultimate creative act or how understanding creativity can help us (parents, educators, community) understand the nature of adolescent identity formation. The emphasis will be on the relationship between adolescence and creativity, the definition of creativity and creative process, and what happens during adolescence neurologically, psychosocially, physically, and spiritually. And finally how creativity underpins positive and negative transformation during adolescence.

The subject of creativity and adolescent development has held my interest for many years. It literally re-directed my life after two adolescent boys, sons of friends, murdered two Dartmouth professors on January 27, 2001. At the time, I was the drama teacher at a small public K-12 school in Chelsea, Vt. and my One-Act class was a week or so away from performing Juvie, a play about troubled youth in juvenile detention.

Many of the students in the play knew Robert Tulloch and Jimmy Parker well but all were profoundly affected by their arrest and the frightening charges against them. By the following week, the school board shut down the play because they felt the subject was too close to real life at a time when Chelsea was reeling in disbelief and media hawks were descending. The student actors emotionally advocated for performing the play, even under such dire circumstances, insisting that it was what  “we need to do this, especially now.”
What struck me at the time was how theatre offered a safe, creative and constructive venue for processing real life.

I came away from this period of my life wanting to understand the true nature of the adolescent mind. I wanted to answer this question  – Why do seemingly “normal” adolescents choose destruction? Also, I saw a link between creative expression and processing and healthy social emotional expression. I had begun a new course of learning. Almost 8 years later, I am ready to offer some answers.

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This blog is my effort to bring order to my thinking about how creativtity is inextricably linked to adolescent development. I will focus on the need for mandatory creative social emotional learning programs in all schools. My writing will explore the real lives of adolescents today. As an emerging Expressive Arts therapist, I believe that the arts are the ideal venue for constructive expression as well as providing the Time, Space, and Materials for adolescents to do the work of adolescence, crafting an identity that will sustain them throughout their lives.

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Thesis proposal

Adolescence is the definition of creativity. There is nothing more creative than giving form and meaning to one’s self. When children enter puberty, they leave the protective cloak of family identity to seek their own identity. They also leave the sureness of childhood bodies and the richness of unbridled imaginary play. It is true that for the rest of one’s life the search for self never ceases but it is only during adolescence when the unknown is so profoundly and dangerously felt and experienced.

Adolescents ask one question – “Who am I?” – when standing alone at a blank easel that is their future self. “Who am I?” fuels the long journey of their self-discovery.

Each stage of development presents a crisis which must be resolved before moving fully to the next stage. Erik Erikson identified the psychosocial work of adolescence as Role Confusion and Identity Formation. The work of adolescence is to trial test new selves while negotiating a rapidly expanding inner world. If adolescents resolve the “crisis” of identity, they develop fidelity, the ability to attach themselves faithfully through intimacy and connection to self and other. If unable to successfully do the work of adolescence, they feel and become diffused, scattered and ungrounded.

The work of adolescence is social and emotional work.

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