I’m excited to share with you the overview of the program I’m running for Youth Communication. I’ve put together a workbook for the participants, with activity sheets and space for notes and freewriting.




This sequence of discussions is designed for a group of young people (ages 15 to 20) attending Youth Communication’s 2012 Summer Writing Workshop. In line with this year’s theme of identity, this two-day program gives participants a rich and structured context in which to explore their own passages to adulthood.

The underlying premise is that becoming an adult is not something that happens overnight (on your 18th or 21st birthday), but rather something that takes place gradually and not without some amount of heartache and hardship.

Together we will discuss the concept of adulthood, beginning first with major institutional definitions coming from the legal and scientific fields, and moving through developmental psychology toward cultural definitions in the realms of sociology and anthropology.

The goal is for participants to use this knowledge as a framework for formulating personal definitions of adulthood that resonate in their own lives, and also for generating stories for YCTeen or Represent.


[DAY 1: Wednesday, July 11, 2012]

11:00a – 12:00p          Introduction: What is an adult and how do you become one?

We open with two main questions that will run through each unit of this program:

  1. What is an adult?
  2. How do you become an adult?

12:00p – 1:00p           Transitions to Adulthood 1: Legal Markers of Adulthood

The law gives us an initial way to tackle the topic of adulthood. We distinguish between the age of majority and the age of license (as well as the age of consent), and then consider different ages at which people can engage in certain activities.

1:00p – 2:00p             LUNCH BREAK

2:00p – 3:00p             Transitions to Adulthood 2: Scientific definitions of maturity

In this unit we consider the topic of maturity from medical and psychological perspectives. We will discuss puberty and adolescence, focusing on the latter as a challenging life stage that is also an opportunity for self-definition.

3:00p – 4:00p             Transitions to Adulthood 3: Transitional Adulthood

We attempt to get a better handle on what it means to be an adult by looking at what seems to be missing from the lives of what sociologists and other developmental experts call emerging adults, or what is more popularly known as the “boomerang generation.” We will also look at “fast starters” for a fuller understanding of what life is like today for Americans in their twenties and early thirties.

[DAY 2: Thursday, July 12, 2012]

11:00a – 11:30a           Review and writing

What was the most important lesson you remember from yesterday, and how does it relate to your current journey toward adulthood?

11:30a – 1:00p           Transitions to Adulthood 4: “Western” Coming of Age Rituals

“Rites of passage” and “coming of age” are the major topics of the day. We will begin by exploring the ways that youth in the United States celebrate their entrance to adulthood.

1:00p – 2:00p             LUNCH BREAK

2:00p – 3:30p              Transitions to Adulthood 5: Tribal Rites of Passage

Anthropological studies of tribal societies give us a final view of adulthood. We will look at videos of how tribes around the world actively usher their members into adult life with rites of initiation or transformation.

3:30p – 4:00p             Wrap-up


Dale Shuger · June 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Looks great, although I don’t envy you having to keep the attention of 15-20 yr olds for 4 hours… Are you not going to have them invent their own rites?

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