Thursday, February 01, 2007

Rethinking Belonging

As do we all, the students we work with possess a strong urge to belong. When they enter middle school, many adolescents feel lost almost isolated from all that is familiar. For good or ill, most will desperately seek out peer groups from which they can derive a sense of identity. Homer describes such a longing to discover one’s true identity in the person of Odysseus’s son, Telemachus.

Telemachus bore a heavy burden. His father was rumored to have been lost at sea following the war at Troy, and men from his own town had invaded his home, demanding the hand of his lonely mother in marriage. This young man was the son of a king—and not just any king, mind you, but the legendary Odysseus. Despite being raised as royalty, daily being hailed as “Prince Telemachus,” this young man felt powerless in the face of the older suitors who had aggressively pushed their way into his home. He desperately needed to know where he belonged.

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