Friday, February 11, 2011

Industry vs inferiority--Applying Erikson's theory in practice

By Brittany Greene
College of Education
Long Island University, C. W. Post
February, 2011

Today in class we discussed Erik Erikson’s identity developmental stages. Today I also had work; I coach a youth cheerleading team. These girls are between the ages of nine and eleven, which fall directly in the elementary period. I never thought of this group as “the elementary period,” but as the practice wore on I found myself observing them as kids in “the elementary period.” My findings were pretty much on target with Erikson’s explanation of this stage.

We break down practice in the following way: warm-up and stretch, jump, tumble, stunt and then work on the routine for competition. When we started to tumble, I decided to make stations with mats for the girls to work on specific tricks. When it was time to put the mats away, I started picking them up and all of a sudden I had about five of the girls ask me, “Can I help you?” and of course I’m not going to turn down help, so I said, “That’d be great, thank you!” So they partnered up to help each other pick up the mats and stack them. Then it occurred it me industry versus inferiority, these girls wanted to help, they wanted to work hard.

The next part of practice we stunted. For this part we need four girls in each stunt group: there’s a flyer, back and two bases. I had a few left over girls after putting the groups together so I told them, “Come stand by me and help me be a spotter.” Now don’t get me wrong spotters are always good, but we don’t technically need them. However, just by giving them a titled job, they felt needed and helpful, so it was great! I feel that this was what Dr. Boyanton was talking about with “manipulating” this age group; even though it’s not a super important job, they think it is because I made it sound like a big deal. The last part of the night that really tied this whole stage together was after the girls came back from a water break. One girl in particular came back from the waiting room (where her mother and sister were watching her stunt) she said, “I told my sister that I based a half and how I brought her down from there, she couldn’t believe that I did this my first time stunting. She said she didn’t even do this when she first started cheerleading.” When she told me this, she had the biggest smile on her face and was so excited about what her and her stunt group accomplished. This of course made me think of the example of loving to show off, ‘look at what I did!’ I definitely didn’t go into practice tonight thinking that I’m going to analyze these girls and see if they relate to Erikson’s elementary stage, however I really couldn’t help but notice it. It absolutely made an impression on me since I was able to see it first hand for myself.

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