Classroom Interpreters - Interpreters and Children - Cognitive/Social Development and Educational Interpreting
Middle School and High School Years - Adolescence
During the adolescent years, relationships with peers become even more critical to cognitive and social development. Adolescents typically spend more time with peers than with their families, although immediate family remains important throughout adolescence.
Friendships During Adolescence
While even young children have friends, friendships become much more important during adolescence and the nature of friendships changes as children enter the teen years. During this stage of development, adolescents define friendships in terms of the emotional support they receive and shared attitudes with their friends. Adolescents report that friends are loyal and try to help solve problems.
Friendships provide models for adult relationships, in terms of intimacy and loyalty as well as providing experience in managing interpersonal and psychological challenges. From about age 12 onward, friendships are thought about in terms of opportunities for sharing feelings, exchanging secrets, and identity formation.
Peer Culture and Cliques
Adolescence also is a time when peer groups become organized around cliques or small social groups. Cliques typically are based on shared attitudes and values as well as interests. Cliques can be positive social influences in that they can help adolescents develop social skills, collaboration, and leadership. Cliques can also be a negative influence in that some groups may identify with antisocial and deviant behaviors and values.
Cliques can also reject or neglect specific students in the classroom. During adolescence there is increased conformity to peer pressure, which may lead to some students being left out.
Adolescence also is a time of identity formation in which an individual commits to a self-chosen set of values and goals. Quite literally, adolescents are trying to find out “who they are.” Identity formation is an important step in psychological health. Young people who are actively exploring their self-identity often have a higher sense of self-esteem, are more likely to engage in abstract and critical thinking, and are more advanced in moral reasoning.
Adolescents can get stuck at this stage resulting in a less mature identity. Individuals can commit to values and goals without exploring alternatives. Rather, they accept a ready-made identity that authority figures – usually parents but sometimes teachers, religious leaders, or romantic partners – have chosen for them. Adolescents can also fail to develop a mature identity, where they are not committed to values and goals. They may never have explored their identity or they may have found the task too threatening or overwhelming.
Ethnic Development During Adolescence
During adolescence, issues of ethnic and cultural identity assume a greater importance. Ethnic identity emerges as a more complex concept than the color of skin or the geographical origin of family. Along with the development of an identity that incorporates ethnicity, adolescents may actively search to understand the attitudes, political beliefs and history that accompany that ethnic identity.
Interpreted Education and Adolescence
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing vary widely in how much they can access peer interaction without the services of an interpreter. Many students can access some peer interaction, especially if it is in a quiet environment with a small number of speakers. For a student who accesses interaction solely through interpreting, it is essential to provide access to peer interaction. The interpreter should understand the importance of supporting peer culture, with its own special slang and ways of communicating. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing need to be able to communicate with peers in order to develop the social abilities that will serve them as an adult in a job and in relationships.
If the student does not have friendships and peer interactions, it is important to seek out relationships with other deaf and hard of hearing peers.
Identify Formation and Deafness
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing of all ages need the resources that the deaf and hard of hearing adults can provide. Even when students have very good spoken communication skills, it is important that they have opportunities to meet adults who have “walked the walk.” Many adults who are deaf or hard of hearing report how profound it was to meet someone who was “like them” and how that event had significant impact on their identity formation. It is clear that many deaf and hard of hearing individuals function in both the hearing and deaf communities. Most adults who are deaf or hard of hearing have a lifetime of experiences in managing a hearing loss in a hearing world. These adults can serve as an excellent resource and role model for students of all ages.