Thursday, February 11, 2010

What A Difference A Year Makes!

Saturn, the time-keeping planet, is spending quality retrograde time in Libra, the planet of harmony and balance. This planet has a lot to do with maturity and lessons learned and in a social sign like Libra, one might see some growth with regard to relationships.

This is a perfect time to discuss the impact of time on the individual. I recently began a new job working with students at a high school level and I am constantly amazed by the differences between the students with regard to year. The freshman are much more immature than the sophomores who are less mature than the juniors who are, in turn (you guessed it, less mature than the seniors. Some people look at these groups and say, "Yes, well, it's the age." Well, naturally, it's the age, but to see how these things develop in packs, one must take a look at nurture (in this case, social aspects) versus the nature at work.

Children seem to learn things in groups. Of course they do; our society is built around this foundation. People do this as well, but it's not quite as formalized as when we are in school. There are milestones that we accomplish and it seems that the only instinctive knowledge handed to us is to learn from our own observations (especially of those around us). Sometimes, you get lucky and information is handed to you by a parent, a teacher, or (as is most common) a peer. For the most part, you learn the same things around the same time as your friends. After all, you're around the same age and usually you have the same interests, so it does seem fairly natural.

But what about maturity?

Are we learning to be more mature individuals by observing those around us? Is it something that people actually tell us? Or is it something subliminal; a signal that we pick up on when we develop the receptors for them? Young boys will often tease or hit girls they like. When they reach a certain age, they suddenly show their affections in other ways, although they're often just as clumsy at it. Sometimes, it's actually worded for us: "Stop being such a child!" Usually, this comes from an authority figure. Still, most people as teenagers are striving for the approval of their peers. They want to be socially accepted, so I can only infer that we pick up socially mature cues from our friends. Which means that SOMEONE in the group has to make the move first. Are they looking towards the people above them in the age bracket? Does it come from experience?

I remember coming home from my first year of college and heading back to my high school to say hi to friends and teachers (yes, I am that dork who was friends with teachers). I remember seeing the high school seniors and thinking, "Wow. They are so clueless and childish. They have no idea what's in for them." Did I gain this insight from my experience? From observing the other freshman at college? Where did I develop it? And looking back now, I can't even imagine the mindset that I had at 18 as I do now ten years later. The boy who lived then seems like an entirely different person. As does the same boy at age 8.

I am aware that there are a number of contributing factors to the development of the human being. As this is my first year at this school, I look forward to seeing how the current freshmen blossom into the mature seniors that I know they will be. I wonder what they will think when they look back and reflect on their freshman year in high school. Then again, one might say I'm in my freshman year as an educator. I wonder what I'll think four years from now. At least I have the comfort of knowing that I can't be called a senior for another 30-something years.

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