Reflecting On Adolescence

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Sharing these intensely private excerpts provokes laughter and connection between the audience and reader. Mortified was launched in Los Angeles 14 years ago, and now 20 cities around the world host their own live shows. Some Mortified fans, Gootee included, have found another medium for these deeply personal stories: She began to use podcasts of Mortified shows with students as a way to offer them perspective on their own difficult lives.

In her sessions on mindfulness, she invites kids to bring their pillows and blankets into class and to spread out around and under the long conference table, while she tunes in to a Mortified podcast.


The first story students heard, told by an older woman about her quaint-seeming struggles with a long-ago high school boyfriend, enchanted the students. Frank Mathews, a veteran social studies teacher at Wilson High School in Portland, also includes Mortified in the classroom. Students pounced when he began to talk about his part-time work.

Mathews recently shared parts of 4 Jimmy: Both Mathews and Gootee also draw on Mortified to encourage journal-writing among their students. Having endured adolescence with the help of her private diary, Gootee teaches her students to write as an emotional outlet. Mathews, who laments his own failure to record his teenage worries, tells his students that keeping a journal will allow them to write their own history and document their life.

Plus, he says, in ten years they can do their own Mortified show. Sarabeth Leitch, a writing teacher in Portland, says that Mortified has inspired her to assign more personal writing with her freshmen and sophomores.

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The Mortified podcast 15 Tynan: Once relying just on literature as a writing prompt, she now assigns more personal narratives; for example, she asks students to write about their personal experiences as a way to clear their minds. At the end of the school year, Leitch will return the assignments so students can read their earlier writings and perhaps gain a little perspective. For college professor Alina Miller-Padilla, Mortified provides a wholly different learning opportunity. Miller-Padilla taught a class at Oregon State University on Writing for the Media Professional, and used the Mortified documentary and podcasts as illustrations of superior storytelling.

Many Mortified narratives dwell on provocative subjects that some schools and parents might consider indelicate for teenagers. Also challenging, and what keeps podcast enthusiast Michael Godsey from teaching with Mortified, is the fear that teenagers might interpret adults laughing at distant adolescent pain as trivializing. Padilla-Miller believes that even the more salacious Mortified stories can work with high school kids if teachers prepare their students ahead of time.

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Classes on cultural studies, social studies, media and culture are natural audiences for the stories. And screening what students hear, as Mathews does, sidesteps the problem. As well, the stories reinforce to young adults that revealing vulnerability is a mark of courage, not weakness. Mathews believes that exposure to Mortified, even in expurgated form, helps kids develop some perspective on their own outsized worries.

Rather than minimize teenage misery, Mortified reveals its universality—and survivability.

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Teachers who endeavor to use these podcasts in class learn a bit themselves. Just listening to Mortified helps ground teachers in the reality of teenage life.

Did things change or stay the same? Question - What influenced you? Think about family, culture, popular culture, peers, interests etc.

How did this impact on you? Question - What sorts of things worried you most? Question - What sorts of things did you most enjoy? Question - Who were the important people in your life?

Reflecting on Adolescence: How Stories Can Inspire Teen Empathy

Question - Who did you get support from when you needed it? Question - What factors led you to seek support from these people? Question - How did you communicate? Hopefully, this exercise has enabled you to reflect on some of the things that influenced you during your youth.

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The young people you have contact with are similarly affected by a range of systems and relationships. Top of page Young people and your workplace Workplace learning activity - writing exercise Interview a colleague and ask them to think about the young people with whom you come into contact in your workplace. Question - How do you view these young people?

Question - What is it like to work with them?

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Question - What barriers do you face when working with young people? Question - What kinds of issues are the most important for young people who use your service? Question - What do you think influences the young people who use your service?

Some reflections on the development of child and adolescent psychiatry

The young people who interact with your service Task - writing exercise Think about the young people with whom you come into contact. Question - What expectations and beliefs might they hold about you and your service? Approaches to working with young people 2. Communicating with young people 3. Worker skills and values 4. Understanding and managing difficult behaviours 5.

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