COULD WE DO WITHOUT ADOLESCENCE?
Adolescence is a recent developmental stage. Some societal changes and influences
have lengthened this time period. Adolescence emerged as a result of the industrial
revolution and the resulting need to limit the number of people in the work force.
It is reported that the requirement of more education is the surface manifestation of the underlying need to delay entry into the work force. With increased longevity, mandatory retirement is the corresponding effect on the other end of the life span. So, could we do
On the other hand, we live in a privileged society - one of the few that allow teens to
have more free time and the luxury of an extended period called adolescence.
Consider other not-so-contemporary quotes describing the characteristics of
adolescents in earlier times:
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth
of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words....When I was young, we were
taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise
and impatient of restraint.” —Hesiod, 800 B.C.
“The children now low luxury; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of
exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. Thy no longer
rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company
and tyrranize their teachers”.–Socrates, 470-399 B.C.
“The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age; They are impatient of all restraint; They talk as if they alone know everything and what passes for wisdom in us is foolishness in them. As for girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior and dress.” –Peter the Hermit, A.D. 1083
What is your opinion about this? Do we need adolescence? How would society
need to change if there was no period of adolescence? What would happen to
our society and to the group of people we call adolescents?
Compare and contrast these views with a discussion, description and characteristics
of adolescents today. What’s the same and what’s different? Are the issues different
today? Why, in your opinion? What societal factors or changes contribute to the
differences in issues today and the past? Describe what is it like to be a teen today
in the 21st Century.
Are there cultural variations and differences between teens? What are they?
Poll members of your group that may be from different cultures and ask them to
provide an overview of their teen culture from their ethnic perspective. What are
the differences in cultures? What are the similarities?
Should we continue this developmental period? Why?
Speculate about how our society would change is teenagers were allowed to compete
for jobs with adults on an equal basis. What would be the resulting effects?
Related Learning Link
Beloved scholar and educator Dr. Howard R. Bernstein died on Jan. 15, 2007. This is an excerpt from one of his final interviews. This is an early edit of a documentary about Dr. Bernstein's life, his academic career, and the lives he has touched in the classroom. Interviews with several generations of students in an attempt to explain Dr. Bernstein's uncommonly sucessful teaching methodology. Dr. Bernstein is battling terminal cancer. Directed by Eric Byler, former student of Dr. Bernstein's at Wesleyan University.
Newt Gingrich describes how the 19th century concept of adolescence fails young adults by robbing them of engagement in the adult world.