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View Diary: A Blue-Collar Girl in a White-Collar World (105 comments)

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  •  Critical thinking (2+ / 0-)
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    FloridaSNMOM, angelajean

    It strikes me that if 18 year olds, after having been through at least 13 years of formal education, are not able to think critically in a substantive way, then there is something seriously wrong with that education.  And if the implication is that those 13 years are devoted to fact acquiring and it is for college to teach how to make something useful of them, I have to ask, why wait until college.

    •  Its not the system . . . (0+ / 0-)

      it's 18 year olds.  Teenagers are generally kind of dumb, and it takes a while for the hormones to subside before they can really learn to think.

      The only rule of freedom is not to destroy freedom.

      by fuzzywolf on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 08:45:00 PM PDT

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      •  Wow...I'm shocked that you feel that way... (1+ / 0-)
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        about young people!  That has not been my experience at all, either when I was, or my own kids and their friends were teens.  Experimenting, some jagged edges... but not dumb.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles

        by leftyparent on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:03:04 PM PDT

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        •  perhaps dumb was the wrong word (0+ / 0-)

          Unformed and uninformed, perhaps.

          I see freshmen from all over the US and a dozen other countries, too.  95% of them have little to no critical reasoning skills.  This leads me to believe that it is teenagers in general, and not any one system, which is he problem.

          And yes, I count myself among them.  I'm not too old to remember that I did some genuinely stupid things at 18.

          The only rule of freedom is not to destroy freedom.

          by fuzzywolf on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 11:50:24 PM PDT

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          •  I would say a lot of that is their being... (1+ / 0-)
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            dumbed down by their schooling, taught to learn what the teacher tells them to learn and jump through the testing hoops when told.  They have turned off their inquisitive "thinking" minds long ago and maybe even allowed them to atrophy.

            Could that be what's going on?

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles

            by leftyparent on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:54:26 AM PDT

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            •  I would agree if I had observed . . . (0+ / 0-)

              that homeschooled children were immune to this effect.

              Honestly, though, we do not expect critical thinking of teenagers.  We might expect a child has read, say, Moby Dick or Romeo and Juliet by age 16, but do we expect they have much to say about it?  Do we expect them to understand the ridiculousness of how our culture models timeless love on a story about 13 year olds?  Do we expect them to relate the outrage of a Montague and a Capulet loving each other to other divides in our own culture that love isn't supposed to cross?

              No, we don't expect these things.  The human brain is not fully mature at age 16, no matter what upbringing that 16 year old might have had.

              The only rule of freedom is not to destroy freedom.

              by fuzzywolf on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 03:02:56 PM PDT

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              •  Many of us adults don't expect it... (0+ / 0-)

                and I think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I spent my teenage in a unique youth theater group led by one adult but mostly run by a bunch of teenagers.  It was amazing how capable and thoughtful we all were, though certainly we all had our bad moments.  But inspired by my peers in the group, at age 15 I even adapted a novel, Lord of the Flies, to the stage.


                Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                by leftyparent on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 06:43:54 PM PDT

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          •  Doing stupid things and being able to think (1+ / 0-)
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            critically about academic subjects are two very different things, don't you think?

            I was a smart teenager who made some poor choices as well but that doesn't mean all teens are bound to make poor choices. Yes, their brains are still in the process of being wired but they are completely capable of having complex discussions and well-thought out ideas.

            My son has asked me why so many adults don't like teenagers. I wish I had a good answer for him, but I don't.

            •  Capable, sure, but . . . (0+ / 0-)

              it may seem overly pessemistic to say that only 5% of teens practice critical thinking, but how many adults do?  I put that number right around 50%.  Around half our adult population has never come close to Descartes cogito ergo sum.

              The only rule of freedom is not to destroy freedom.

              by fuzzywolf on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 03:05:13 PM PDT

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      •  Not in my experience (3+ / 0-)
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        FloridaSNMOM, angelajean, leftyparent

        Is that how you were?  Kind of dumb as a teenager and not able to really learn to think until your hormones subsided?

        I don't experience young people between the ages of 13 and 18 that way at all.  If that is your view of them I wonder if they act that way around you because you expect it.

      •  This shocks me. (2+ / 0-)
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        leftyparent, reconnected

        Having two teen boys of my own, I haven't found that teens are dumb at all. They and their friends are a joy to talk to. Maybe it helps that I am an adult who is willing to listen to what they have to say.

      •  Having recently been a teenager... (2+ / 0-)
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        reconnected, leftyparent

        It was really the kids who were not raised in nurturing environments where they had unconditional love and support to foster their own development -- it was those kids who seemed "kind of dumb" or "overly hormonal". Kids that felt like they had to rebel against authority figures (often their parents) trying to micro-manage their lives or judge their progress as individuals based on an arbitrary set of standards. Kids who saw this same top-down control model echoed in their learning environments and were burnt out dealing with it in their home lives, who'd never really been encouraged to do any deep learning on topics of interest, but instead were expected to absorb information on someone else's timetable whether they wanted to or not. It was those kids, indeed, who seemed disconnected, disenchanted and even toxic. While I'm not trying to justify any bad or negligent behavior, it was kind of hard to blame kids caught up in downward spirals when I, too, was fighting my own battle with the system and trying to come to terms with leaving it and finding my own way, an option many of them just didn't have.

        It also feels a little unfair to judge teenagers so harshly when we haven't really witnessed an entire generation of youth outside of the traditional schooling system (in it's current iteration) for a good century. So much has changed in terms of how we view children/teens and their physical/emotional/intellectual development, and we've very slowly started to come to a place as a society where we're all on more equal footing in terms of opportunity (although I know it's still a long haul from here). I think it's an incredibly noble ambition that all kids should be allowed to become literate and be exposed to a common body of knowledge, but I feel like the set routes we've institutionalized when it comes to going about that ambition are not as effective or nurturing as they could be.

        As a result, we get a lot of burnt out kids and teens who spend their free time "goofing off", when really I feel like they're just detoxing from being expected to spend a large chunk of their lives in an artificial environment whose every aspect is controlled. I genuinely don't think that teenagers are hardwired to "goof off" or be uninterested in anything of value to them, I think that's a side effect of the current system, which, for the large part, remains authoritarian and unflinching when it comes to kids who don't "measure up" to its standards.

        Part of being a teenager is testing boundaries and learning what it means to create your own. When I was involved in YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists) I was able to have real ownership of my community, participating in week long camps and conferences that were entirely youth planned and led. At one point a close friend and I put together an entire week long camp, including creating the schedule, putting together the staff, deciding on a theme, enlisting guest speakers, choosing special nightly events, and learning how to facilitate effective meetings with that team on the regular to ensure that the event progressed smoothly. In addition to this I had to be on hand to tackle any problems that arose (and believe me, there were plenty, because you're right about one thing -- the onset of sexual maturity is a big part of being a teenager) and to ensure that not only were the problems resolved, that they didn't leave any lasting damage on the community.

        This really made me value and be more invested in my community than I would've otherwise, I think. It also really brought out an aptitude for leadership that I didn't even know I had. In addition to that I was a camp counselor for smaller children, and I learned just what it meant to start creating safe boundaries for other people, and I think that helped me to temper how I felt about my own.

        I really felt like those leadership skills came into play at the last two jobs I've held, and are a big part of the reason I was promoted in both cases.

        These were all experiences I had outside of (and largely after) school. Of course it helped that I was a part of this community and that I had been exposed to it, but life is all about exposure, and a big part of unschooling is ensuring that your kid is exposed to environments where there are opportunities for growth, whether that's traditional school or something else, depending on what works for them. This was definitely something that worked for me.

        And while being a teenager is certainly a very social time in one's life, where the opinions of peers mean more than they ever have (and probably ever will), that's developmental. Sure, I was hormonal and very conscious of how I fit in, but when it came to pursuing my interest -- creative writing -- my hormones never got in the way, and neither did anything else, for that matter. I did it because I wanted to do it, because I had had enough time to trust that that was what was right for me, and because I'd had that instinct nurtured in me from a young age. Many kids are not nearly so lucky, but I think part of the problem is that we then go onto assume they're "unformed and uninformed" as you say, without really deeply speculating on the causes.

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