Posted By Jennie Chancey on August 14, 2010
Thank you to Ann over at Holy Experience for recommending this piece:
Here’s a Twilight Zone-type premise for you. What if surgeons never got to work on humans, they were instead just endlessly in training, cutting up cadavers? What if the same went for all adults – we only got to practice at simulated versions of our jobs? Lawyers only got to argue mock cases, for years and years. Plumbers only got to fix fake leaks in classrooms. Teachers only got to teach to videocameras, endlessly rehearsing for some far off future. Book writers like me never saw our work put out to the public – our novels sat in drawers. Scientists never got to do original experiments; they only got to recreate scientific experiments of yesteryear. And so on.
Rather quickly, all meaning would vanish from our work. Even if we enjoyed the activity of our job, intrinsically, it would rapidly lose depth and relevance. It’d lose purpose. We’d become bored, lethargic, and disengaged.
In other words, we’d turn into teenagers.
This is the metaphorical vision of adolescent life Dr. Joe Allen paints in his insightful new book, Escaping the Endless Adolescence, coauthored with his wife, Dr. Claudia Worrell Allen.
Allen has concluded that our urge to protect teenagers from real life – because we don’t think they’re ready yet – has tragically backfired. By insulating them from adult-like work, adult social relationships, and adult consequences, we have only delayed their development. We have made it harder for them to grow up. Maybe even made it impossible to grow up on time.
Basically, we long ago decided that teens ought to be in school, not in the labor force. Education was their future. But the structure of schools is endlessly repetitive. “From a Martian’s perspective, high schools look virtually the same as sixth grade,” said Allen. “There’s no recognition, in the structure of school, that these are very different people with different capabilities.” Strapped to desks for 13+ years, school becomes both incredibly montonous, artificial, and cookie-cutter.
Click here to continue reading. The conclusions are interesting and illustrate why we take issue with the factory schooling model. John Taylor Gatto has written about this extensively for years, and homeschoolers already know how capable their teens are of stepping into adulthood and maturity early on when freed from the 8-hour classroom model. I found the remark about “the hovering control of their parents” an odd one, since the teens mentioned in this piece don’t seem to have a lot of parental oversight or interaction (thus the rampant drug and alcohol abuse). Reading books like Unhooked, Unprotected, and Hooked, it seems teens actually crave more parental boundaries rather than fewer. The road to adulthood is a journey best navigated with the helpful counsel and practical advice of successful, mature adults. And the road wouldn’t be such a long one if we would simply invest the time in our teens, providing them with ample opportunities to work, serve others, and “do hard things.” Much food for thought!
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