It is almost as bad as being a nudist! They also feel that “it is none of your business”. This attitude, in itself, reveals something about the individual. A wise and sympathetic counsellor or teacher, who has not forgotten his own youth, can look behind this bravado and learn much about the student. Difficulty in Understanding another Person: It is difficult for adults to understand the behaviour of adolescents; we so easily forget what we thought and did when we were “young and gay”. A common danger is that we may read our own present motives, feelings, and aspirations into the expressions and activities of the student.
Another serious difficulty is that, although we can secure some information about the individual, what we get sometimes interferes with our understanding of him. “We cannot see the forest for the trees”. Real understanding of another person involves an unusual ability to put oneself sympathetically and intelligently in his place. At the same time one must stand apart and be impersonal. The privacy of the individual must be respected; we must not be in a hurry see what the student is not ready to disclose. Individuals Change: One difficulty in dealing with the adolescent is that he is constantly changing, even from day-to-day.
As a consequence, by the time data are obtained and recorded, he has changed, and the data are important only as they show a developmental picture of the student. Such a picture is important, but it does not tell us what he is now. A current picture is very difficult to attain. Cumulative records have great value in showing the development of the individual from year to year—his scholastic record, his changing interests, his attitudes toward teachers and fellow students, the changes in his personality patterns. But more important is a truly understanding teacher or counsellor who can interpret the conflicting behaviour of the developing adolescent.
Such understanding is absolutely essential. The past must not be confused with the present. Records tell us what was; only the individual himself can tell us what is.