Tabor professor seeks to fathom the teenage mind
Teacher enters their world to understand the changing face of adolescenceBy Sara Cook Tabor College
These groups of friends — which Loewen describes as small and tribal-like — are referred to as clusters.
“No one penetrates the cluster,” said Loewen, who also claims that, as a result, family loyalty then becomes secondary.
“It’s been interesting in youth ministry to see how teens band themselves together,” he said. “For the longest time, we’ve called them cliques. Well, cliques are generally activity-centered, they’re larger.”
Unlike their clique counterparts, clusters are about surviving life.
In the past, the adolescent world harbored an “in” group.
“Everyone else gauged where they were in proximity to that group, and we all wanted to be like them,” said Loewen.
That “in” group is still there, he said, but it’s not at the center of the culture anymore. Instead, there is a network of clusters where “no one holds the power to the adolescent culture,” Loewen said. “They’re trying to find people they trust and help feel safe, because they sense that the adult world is hostile.”
The critical issue of autonomy is what Loewen finds most interesting, and disturbing.
“Beneath the surface there’s an adolescent underworld that goes on, and adults are not invited,” he said. “Adults are not knowledgeable of what’s going on.”
Draw a line. Below it is adolescence, and above it is what Loewen and others call adult systems, organizations that are “for and about the adults in charge,” he said. An example is Little League.
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