Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Changing the Way we think about Teens

I'm at the end of my series on adolescence, the book by Robert Epstein called The Case Against Adolescence:Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen. I know, it wasn't all one smooth series but so much else is going on so apologies!
The last idea Epstein leaves us with is the idea that we can change our perspective on how we view the teen-age years- a period of growth that was largely set in motion during the period of massive population growth in the Industrial Revolution.

Epstein explains throughout his book that our views today on teens are determined by messages the media sources and thought leaders serve us daily. You know, the 'reckless, 'lazy', 'violent teen' messages.
"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.
We can change this backward way of thinking. We are nothing if not creatures of change.
"Adolescence as we know it in the US should be abolished, and we should stop exporting this dysfunctional period of life to other countries," Epstein continues.

In my opinion, the best place to start would be to abolish compulsory schooling- an outmoded strategy of education. Get the kids in with the adults; let them talk to adults, hang out with them,learn along side them and take their cues from them rather than from their peers.

"The time has come to end the isolation {from adults}. Young and old, we will all benefit by restoring the child-adult continuum that existed through most of human history in industrialized nations and that still exists in preindustrial societies today. The teen years need to be what they used to be: a time not just of learning, but of learning to be responsible adults," concludes Epstein.

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.

5 comments:

Netzi said...

Wow! I should get my hands on this book. I have proof of the "adolescent" import every time I watch French and British news. It's sad.

My first step to abolish adolescence was for me to questions views on youth. I'm eighteen, and I've heard claims saying "teenagers'" impulse and immaturity was due to an undeveloped frontal lobe. Funny thing is I was never an impulsive person. Too add to modern neurology's ridiculousness, youth in other times and cultures act more mature. So the claim goes right out the window.

Now I'm starting to empower myself, acknowledging my human rights. Once I get over society's damage, I hope to empower other interested youth.

I think the best reform should be gradual and devoting, not forced lobbying (a common approach). You then know whether or not people are really into change, because the latter could bring angry citizens.

rfs said...

Where do we start? The sight of kids out and about during school hours is a shock to most of the population. "Field trip?" is the question you're asked. Kids need to be seen in the community during the working/schooling hours.
Thanks for posting!

drrobertepstein.com said...

Thanks for your kind words about my book. I just wanted to alert you that an updated, expanded version of the book will be released this spring, entitled TEEN 2.0. It will come out on April 14, which will also be the first annual National Youth Rights Day. See: http://Teen20.com and http://NationalYouthRightsDay.org . Cordially, /Dr. Robert Epstein

rfs said...

Thanks Doc. We will be sure to feature the new book.
It would be great if we could start a dialogue on how to bridge the gap between adults and teens-how to strengthen the child-adult continuum.

clementine said...

Businesses and public institutions could have a 'take you kid to work' once a week instead of once a year.

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