Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Robert Epstein:Taking Teens Seriously

I always have at least 30 books on the go at any given moment and one of the books that I'd like to suggest here is Robert Epstein's newest book Teen 2.0: Saving our children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence. The landmark Program for Awakening the Inner Adult in Every Teen (2010, Quill Driver Books).

The title is an eye full for sure- but reflects much of what you'll find within its pages.
Reinforcing the work in his first book,The Case Against Adolescence), the new book is about the urgent need to stop infantilizing teens and start treating them as we would adults.

It's obvious that teens today have more money then any other generation before them, are better dressed, have unlimited access to the Internet, seem to be born knowing how to work technology and are generally allowed to enjoy their youth to lengths of time reaching into their 20s and beyond.

But according to researchers like Epstein, teens today, treated like incompetent children in maturing bodies are more rebellious, angry and depressed then ever before.
The thing I find interesting is that even when our kids are unschooled, there are still not enough 'adult' opportunities (like work) out there to meet their growing needs.
And being respected, being taken seriously is far from automatic outside the context of 'unschooled' situations.

It's tough growing up in this culture. One of my daughters attends grade 9 at a local high school. She is a proficient writer (years of lying on the bed reading, reading and more reading) and in one of her classes (geography), she was given a writing assignment.

But when she completed the assignment the teacher called her up to question her about the work. It was so well written, he thought she had plagarized it and was very hesitant to give her a deserving mark. A few other classmates who are good writers also received similar treatment. They had to call on her enriched English teacher to have her convince the geography teacher!!!

This is just a minor example of the way teens are held in suspicion. Guilty until proven innocent. Worse, they are not valued as a necessary and contributing part of our daily landscape- to the detriment of society.

In fact,teens as a group have more restrictions that prisoners or the mentally sick according to Epstein's research.

It will be interesting to hear the views of unschooled teens/grown unschoolers;
how the adult world perceives/perceived them; how they've dealt with an in-grained hostility towards teens. How they have overcome this prejudice.

"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.

Definitely worth a read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've read his first book. Wow! What an eye opener. It really made me think about how I was treating my then 14 year old.
He was not a kid and yet I was thinking of him in that way still. I guess in this culture, we lack the rituals that back transitioning from one stage to another obvious to everyone. Anyway, I'm going to get the second one as well. Thanks for the post!

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