Kolderie op-ed on “adolescence” runs in the Star Tribune

October 14, 2013 • Ted Kolderie

It’s time to start reconsidering the old institution of ‘adolescence’.

Have a look at this Commentary that ran in the StarTribune in Minnesota, October 13, 2013. It was intended to provoke a discussion about that curious, and particularly American, notion: the “artificial prolongation of childhood past puberty”.

That was done, 100 years ago, with good intentions; in the interest of ‘child welfare’. But the question today is whether adolescence has now become harmful — to young people and to our society.

Clearly, in the past and today, we see some young people doing remarkably adult and impressive things at a surprisingly early age. So that capacity to achieve is there. But: Are we developing those talents, accomplishments, as far as we could be? Why do we continue this inter-generational conflict: adults trying to suppress the teens behaviors they don’t like; teenagers in response not-liking adults?

Is it possible that young people have today become the most systematically discriminated-against class of people in our society?

Why, for heaven’s sake, does the whole effort to improve student learning go on with nobody even questioning what psychologist Robert Epstein calls the ‘infantalizing’ effect of adolescence?

Think about it, will you? Let’s see if we can start a productive discussion about this country getting so much more from its young people. We’d very much like to know what you think — and what you suggest.