Radio Free School recently put up a blog about changing the way we view teens. I spend most of my time with teenagers; I actually think they’re not much different from adults. I take that back: most of the time, they’re easier to get along with.
RFS quotes Robert Epstein’s The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen: “Our views can reasonably be conceived of as a kind of irrational prejudice programmed by our culture-almost precisely the kind that mainstream Americans bore towards women and blacks until very recent times,” says Epstein.
They then say: What we need then is more avenues, more opportunities for this to take place-for adults and kids to come face to face in meaningful ways. Take your kid to school day won’t cut it.
I want to hear your ideas and experiences on what can be done (what is being done) to restore the continuum. Please write in.
Some of the suggestions include getting rid of high school and put the kids into something more like apprenticeship work programmes. Not a bad idea. Why do we expect children to go to school until they’re about 23 years old, and then go into work? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I’d like to flip it around a bit, though. Rather than having the kids live our lives for a day, how about we live theirs? What if each teenager got to make an adult get up three hours earlier than they wanted to, hang around school for 7 or 8 hours, work a crappy job for a few hours, then do two or three hours of homework? They could also make the adults sit on the floor in a big, affectionate pile and talk about love, religion, politics, society, etc. They could make the adults listen to music which makes them feel extreme emotions. They could show the adults what it feels like to risk their health-and-well-being by leaping fences, BMXing, fleeing the schoolyard in a frenzy of parkour or crossing the road against the light. They could make the adults try something new or do something unpleasant just because it’s good for their character.
The teenagers didn’t choose this lifestyle for themselves: adults created it for them. We decided this was good for them, and then we complain because they don’t act like adults. I think we’re just ticked off with them because they still have youth and freedom and all those things we want to have but got rid of in favour of careers and money and material goods. I think if our society is to the point where someone has the audacity to write a book about why we don’t like a whole group of people, maybe the fault is really, really easy to pinpoint.