Sep 10, 2007

treating teens like adults

Just over three years ago, I wrote, "Teach students to empower themselves... and they'll do it." I've always thought that teenagers are more capable and more mature than adults will grant. Now, research shows I'm right.
Epstein is careful to avoid the “correlation entails causation” fallacy, but he does cite his own research, which finds strong correlation between teenage infantilization and psychopathology. In other words, the less autonomy we give teenagers, the more problems they have. Give teenagers—even troubled teenagers—more responsibility for their own lives, and almost universally they respond.

The hypothesis is provocative and Epstein goes to great lengths to demonstrate not only that teenagers are troubled, but that they are capable of acting like adults. They are capable thinkers, capable of forming deep, loving connections (i.e. marrying), capable of enduring adversity, of being creative, of taking responsibility, etc. Anything adults can do, teenagers can do too.
(Conversely, adults are just as immature as teenagers--sit in any staff meeting and watch for twenty minutes for absolute proof.)

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