What is identity formation for homeschool teens? Here are some thoughts:
Identity Formation for Homeschool Teens
I’d had the blessing of serving as homeschool mom of 5 teens (4 are now beyond teen years), academic advisor to homeschool high school upperclassmen, and licensed professional counselor. One of my favorite things to do is help teens enjoy the years of discovery and wrestling as they struggle to figure out:
“Who on earth am I?”
This is VERY VERY important: identity formation for homeschool teens. Their brains are developing metacognition (the ability to think about who and what they are, their callings, and even what they’re thinking about). They NEED to explore, wrestle, discovery their identities
That is one reason why Career Exploration is such an important credit in homeschool high school. A solid Career Exploration program is full of self-discovery and learning to seek God about His will and callings. This is part of identity formation for homeschool teens.
Part of gaining metacognition for homeschool high schoolers is the ability to think and philosophize. So, please share this next section with your teen. It is excerpted from a classic post on 7Sisters by Dr. Micah Tillman (who authored Philosophy in 4 Questions, a FREE online self-paced Logic course, co-author of History and Philosophy of the Western World, and the delightful podcast: Top 40 Philosophy).
Identity Formation for Homeschool Teens:
One of Paul’s central concerns in the Epistle to the Romans is to help his Jewish and Gentile brothers and sisters in Rome get along with each other. Evidently they had been living as if they belonged to two different families — as if they had two different identities.
Paul wants them to see that if the Gospel is true, then they all have a new identity as part of the same family.
This got me thinking about what people do to establish their identities. How many ways are there of declaring who and what you are?
- Some people identify themselves using their clothes. (Maybe everyone does, actually.) They implicitly or explicitly announce their opinions about music, business, politics, religion, art, society, and life in general by dressing in certain ways. They tell you who they are and what they value by what they decide to put on, how they decide to put it on, and/or what they decide to leave off.
- Other people identify themselves using their bodies. (Maybe everyone does, actually.) They cut their hair a certain way — or don’t cut it at all. They tattoo themselves so that their identity as a fan of this or that, or as loving someone or other is permanently clear to everyone. They work out, or don’t, to show the world who they are, what they stand for, what they value.
- Other people identify themselves through the activities they participate in. They attend certain meetings regularly. They go on certain trips regularly. They eat certain foods or drink certain beverages regularly. They frequent certain stores and restaurants, they read certain books, they watch certain television shows.
Each activity helps them identify themselves as belonging to the group of people who participate in the same activity — and each activity is, in part, their way of announcing to the world that they are the kind of person who participates in that activity.
Identity-establishing, identity-reinforcing, and identity-announcing things are important for us as humans.
If you’re a human, Heidegger said, then you’re the kind of being whose being is an issue for itself. In other words, to be human is to be the kind of thing that wonders and worries and makes decisions about what kind of thing it is.
That means we have to know who we are — each of us has to understand her or his own identity.
But the philosopher Heidegger also said that to be a human means to be with other humans — even when those other humans aren’t actually present.
“Dasein,” he said, is “Mitsein.” “Being-there” is “Being-with,” even when there’s no one else there to be with.
When there’s no one else there, we feel it; when we are alone, we are being-with no one.
This means it is important that we be able to identify ourselves to and for each other. It’s not enough that we understand our own identities. We also need other people to be able to identify us too — and to identify us accurately.
There’s nothing worse than being misidentified — than being taken for something or someone you’re not.
So here’s some questions that help form identity for homeschool high schoolers:
- What forms your identity?
- What do you need to do in order to identify yourself (to yourself and to others) as a homeschooler?
- What, in fact, do other homeschoolers do in order to establish, reinforce, or announce their identities as homeschoolers?
- What parts of what homeschoolers do to establish, reinforce, or announce their identities as homeschoolers are helpful and healthy?
- And are there any parts of what homeschoolers do to establish, reinforce, or announce their identities as homeschoolers that are either superfluous or detrimental?
- Finally, what, if anything, should homeschoolers do to help non-homeschoolers understand what it means to be a homeschooler, so that non-homeschoolers don’t misidentify homeschoolers?
- These are good discussion questions, essay prompts, and journal prompts. They help identity formation for homeschool teens.