Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teen Culture

I gotta be honest. After my experience today I couldn't help but have my doubts in the human species. I admit that I faltered and temporarily lost my faith in Robert Epstein's work: The Case Against Adolescence. Waiting for the bus (that came late) I was engulfed by the most disgusting presentation of maleness egged on by the worst kind of female stupidity. The young males of our kind cleared their throats loudly and spat on the ground continuously in between crude language and cussing, 'talking' about the worst kind of rubbish, the giddy females giggling and encouraging them.

"Epstein's cracked!" I said to myself. How can we treat these people like they're adults? Kids handling responsibility? Not likely.

But this is exactly Epstein's point: kids live up to our (adults) expectations. If we expect shitty behaviour then that is what we get! If our expectations are high the results will correspond. But we need to give them the opportunities first. So yes, yes, yes. Expect more. Give more responsibility and trust.

Here's a question to Epstein and his reply found on p202 of his book:
Q:Isn't it true that the brains of teens aren't fully developed? Isn't that why they behave so poorly? Doesn't current brain research refute your theory?
A: No brain is fully developed. Brains change throughout
the life span. Teen brains aren't all that different from adult brains, but where there are some differences, those differences don't explain their misbehavior or distress. Brains are reflections of our behavioral, cognitive, and emotional states:they don't cause the states...

In summary, is there a teen brain? Epstein's reply is, "Only in the trivial sense that unique behavioural characteristics that some teens might have-anger, impulsivity, depression-must be encoded in their brains...it's the genes and experiences of angry people that made them angry and gave them angry brains;their brains aren't the cause of their anger... The teen brain is by necessity every bit as much of a cultural creation as adolescence itself."

3 comments:

Scott said...

I think to "expect more" I would also add "put effort into cultivating critical consciousness around gender stuff" to the list of lessons to be gained from the experience... :)

Scott said...

With our kids, that is...

Hamilton Climate Challenge said...

"Put effort into cultivating critical consciousness around gender stuff," says Scott. Absolutely right. There is an overwhelming need to have young people (all people actually) examine, question continuously what society and culture says about gender and gender roles.
It's scary because there seems to be a revival of 'feminine' vs 'masculine' and how that plays out. Noticed all the cleavage and the posturing?

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