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June 07, 2007

Do We Make Too Much of Adolescence?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I blogged long ago about how completely the U.S. has given itself over to adolescent values. Stuart Buck points out a very rewarding interview with Robert Epstein in which Epstein argues that we too often isolate our adolescents from adults. Nice quote:

We have completely isolated young people from adults and created a peer culture. We stick them in school and keep them from working in any meaningful way, and if they do something wrong we put them in a pen with other "children." In most nonindustrialized societies, young people are integrated into adult society as soon as they are capable, and there is no sign of teen turmoil. Many cultures do not even have a term for adolescence. But we not only created this stage of life: We declared it inevitable.

And another one:

Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures. In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens, who are in turn highly influenced by certain aggressive industries. This makes no sense. Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become. When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world, which is not the world of Britney Spears, they have no idea what's going on and have to spend considerable time figuring it out.

Stuart reports that he enjoyed Epstein's current book. I wrote about Young Adult fiction (in other words, novels for teens) here.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at June 7, 2007




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