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June 28, 2006

Kids Forever

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Steve notices an article about a study concluding that immaturity is on the rise. A long-ago posting of mine entitled "Adolescent Nation" might be of interest to those who suspect (as I do) that there's something to the claim.



posted by Michael at June 28, 2006


The idea that adolescence has become prolonged is nothing new, so I'm a bit surprised that the guy's speculations got so much press.

The blame is generally placed on the extended amount of time spent being "educated." My grandfather left school after 8th grade at, say, age 14. I completed coursework (PhD-level) at age 29, with three years off for military service. I took four years to earn my BA, my son took six.

And nowadays a much larger share of high school grads go on to college of some sort than did 40 or 80 years ago. So of course an increasing share of the population doesn't cope with adult realities until well into their twenties. (Yes, I know many people work to pay their way through college. But plenty don't, or don't work much, and this number has risen over time.)

Perhaps the biggest adolescents of all (rant alert) are college teachers, a large share of whom never are far from a classroom from Kindergarten till retirement.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on June 28, 2006 12:08 PM

We also have a popular culture which endlessly presents the pleasures of adult life with none of the concomitant reponsibilities. If you don't believe that, look at MTV. Where's the talk about abortion, STD's, unwed prgnancy, drug addiction, etc?

Also, where are the shows that promote public participation in elections, or any civic responsiblities at all? Nowhere.

Posted by: s on June 28, 2006 8:09 PM

Let alone the shows or articles or stories that promote the idea that there's such a thing as adult pleasures, or some advantages to being an adult. As far as I can tell, we're surrounded by messages suggesting that after the age of 19 it's all downhill.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 29, 2006 3:23 AM

Having lunch with a colleague a few days ago, she noted that there are stages of adult intellectual development, just as there are stages of childhood intellectual development. I told her I felt as if my thinking processes, all those loopy connections in my brain (and they are loopy), what interests me and what excites me intellectually, have undergone a subtle but real shift in the past few years. It's not just that there are adult pleasures, it's that my brain needs to be stimulated in a completely different way these days. Has anyone else had that experience?

Emotionally, I'm the same histrionic-stoic I've always been...... :) Okay, to be honest, nix the stoic part. Well, so? I'm a girl.......

Posted by: MD on June 30, 2006 7:45 AM

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