Trashing Teens

This interesting Psychology Today interview was forwarded to one of my homeschool lists. In it, psychologist Robert Epstein talks about his new book The Case Against Adolescence. He has some interesting things to say about why many teens have the problems that they do. And about the role that schools/our society play in these problems. Many of these arguments are not new to homeschoolers:

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. In 1904, American psychologist G. Stanley Hall said it was programmed by evolution. He was wrong.

I can’t say that I agree with everything that he has to say. He believes that teens should be allowed to take “competency tests” to allow them to have additional rights (just like you have to take a driver’s test to be able to drive a car). His idea is to have a variety of tests that would allow a minor to become emancipated without a court action. My problem with that is that I think that he puts too much faith in the ability to develop a test or tests that can accurately judge this type of thing. Not to mention what about the poor kids who just don’t test well? An interesting idea in theory, but I have my doubts about the practicality of it.

Anyways, an interesting article from a non-homeschooling source that makes many of the same arguments that many homeschoolers do…many kids (especially teens) would fare better by experiencing the real world doing real work with adults rather than by being in an artificial environment surrounded by their peers.

About throwingmarshmallows

I am a homeschooling mom to two sweet, energetic boys although I am probably not exactly what you would expect (definitely NOT your stereotypical homeschooler, if there is really such a thing). I support progressive political causes (yes, liberals can and do homeschool!) and I have found a spiritual home in the Unitarian Universalist Church. I have no real idea of how I want to use this blog, but will probably focus on homeschooling, things that I am learning from my boys, personal thoughts and opinions and maybe some liberal politics thrown in, who knows!
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3 Responses to Trashing Teens

  1. Ron says:

    Sadly, if you took an average age of 13 where people could start doing meaningful work part time working up to full time, it would create a significant unemployment problem in our economy. I suspect that ‘education’ has been gradually extended primarily as a means of addressing youth unemployment.

  2. A lot of food for thought here.

  3. Karen Davis says:

    This reminded me of an essay that was posted on my homeschool list this week called Why Nerds are Unpopular:

    http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

    I do believe that much teenage angst is caused by too many restrictions coupled with not enough reality.