Practical Life for the Adolescent
In the third plane of development (ages 12-18), the role of Practical Life is integrally tied to preparation for adult life. Our practical life work is integrated through the disciplines and guides the adolescent to accepting more responsibility and developing social and economic independence.
Managerial positions provide opportunities for the adolescent to step into a leadership role. With regard to social independence, the adolescent has plenty of authentic opportunity to practice social conventions like grace and courtesy, and develop real problem-solving skills.
Grace and courtesy is focused on the interaction between individuals, and the adolescent experiences the impact of his actions on the community and of other community member’s actions on himself. They also quickly learn to solve problems that arise amongst themselves because, in living and working together, they realize that it is not worth the time or energy to hold grudges or have enemies. Practicing grace a courtesy allows the adolescent to see that grace and courtesy are a part of the society they are preparing to enter.
When entering the Adolescent Community, each adolescent is paired with a guide who acts as an adviser during the three year period. The adviser's role varies from helping students get acclimated to the community, to discussing conflicts and resolution, to working on time management. During this time, the adolescent is also working towards economic independence. Through this work, the adolescent practices financial literacy, marketing, data analysis, and adult interactions.
Through the AC Market, the adolescents practice requesting reimbursements, writing checks, budgeting, and pricing products based on the cost to produce them. The bank and market managers have to work closely with one another, and with other managers like the chicken, bee, and soap managers, to ensure that the market runs smoothly, that they have products to sell, and that they are not losing money. They analyze what products sell well, what products make money, and see that those two don’t always match up. They look for trends and have to decide if a product is worth producing. The market creates a sense of solidarity, while also providing the adolescent community with the opportunity to earn its own money. Additionally, it provides the adolescents with the opportunity to gain additional practical life experiences.
Practical life activities also help the adolescent feel welcome in their environment through having a role in maintaining it, and by having a voice in designing it. These activities aid the development of the will, self-discipline, and the development of the mind by encouraging decision-making and demonstrating that activities have a logical sequence.
As the adolescents move into high school, the students bring all these experiences with them. The high school students continue working with mentors, but are seen as collaborators. They learn driving skills to aid in independence, which allows them to continuing immersing themselves in the society they are so close to entering. Here, practical life is truly fully integrated in their work.
Through practical life work, the individual realizes that no matter their skill is, they can be useful; furthermore, they are able to experience responsibility in a real way. Valorization comes when an individual makes a meaningful contribution to his community, and through valorization, the individual feels capable of succeeding through his own efforts and becomes aware that all work is noble.