Tabor professor seeks to fathom the teenage mind
Teacher enters their world to understand the changing face of adolescenceBy Sara Cook Tabor College
“Is Little League really for the kids or for the adults?” Loewen said. “They want to be in their [youth] world, [but] they’ll do what they think adults want them to do in the adult world.”
They adopt different behavior for each world. They may do well and win awards from adults. But when parents hear about what their teenagers are posting on the Internet or find out what they are doing after sneaking out late at night, they’re left questioning how well they know their children.
Another case in point is how adolescents react to invitations to receive Christ at youth events.
“Everyone stands up instantly. And years ago, I thought, ‘Wow! God really works. This is amazing,’ ” he said. But he eventually came to the conclusion that the event was an adult system, and the youth were doing what was expected of them.
“So what do we do as adults?” Loewen said. “How do we deal with this kind of world?
“I think the big thing is understanding, and understanding what life is really like for them.”
In addition, there must be boundaries and guard rails put in place. What that means, he said, is that adults need to pay attention.
“What we’ve been doing is turning our backs on them and letting them kind of float by themselves,” he said.
Loewen attempts to reach college students where they are in life, communicating that he is an adult who can be trusted — because more and more he assumes that students, even at Tabor, see college as an adult system.
He attempts to listen to and understand them, even if it’s only done within a three-minute conversation outside the classroom.
Loewen seeks to make the atmosphere in the classroom both hospitable and charged.
“Hospitable in that it’s a place they can really raise honest questions and they can feel safe to explore the topic or the subject, themselves or God,” he said. “At the same time, I want the classroom to be charged. Maybe the content itself raises questions for them or it’s something worth exploring, but they’re safe to explore that.”
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