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MrsSmith

Myth of Adolescence

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Google this phrase for several interesting articles discussing this theory. The gist is that the stage of development called "adolescence" was unknown until the 20th century; actually 1904. For thousands of years of human history, when a young person reached age 12 or 13, they "put away" childhood and became young adults with adult responsibilities. Compulsory education and child labor laws which made young people unproductive burdens on the poor and middle class required social re-engineering and, hence, the invention of adolescence. The experiment of age-segregation in school (as opposed to the one room school house of the 19th century) and Darwinism (micro-evolution) were touted as proof of the need for this interim phase of personal development. Organizations sprang up to keep idle adolescents busy. Voila: Boy Scouts.

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I am not so sure, but then I may not undestand the premise either. Post Industrial revolution life has placed many more demands on the populace than Pre Industrial Revolution life. One does indeed have to read and write, basic skills go on beyond put the seed in the ground, cultivate and reap what comes up. As western civilization becomes more complicated, more preparation is required, hence adolescence, at least, thats my idea, I could be wrong

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Interesting observation. But I note that, like the gay leader thing, our failure to identify something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. I add that as we make more careful observations, neurobiology has shown stages of brain development that extend well into the age we associate with 'young adults'. I suspect this has always been the case.

I'm not so sure, OGE, that the old days were as simplistic as you seem to portray them.

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Maybe the old days werent as simplistic as I portrayed them, but they werent near as wound up as life today is neither

 

and I do like your post, it said a lot of things I thought but couldnt put into words(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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Romeo and Juliet were not "star crossed lovers" of age 20 and 21. As recent as my mother's generation (b. 1925) females went from little girls to ladies.

 

Yes there was always a transition time. But now, what responsibilites do we give to 13 - 17 year olds? (I'm generalizing here so bear with me.) We don't expect them to be having sex, much less children or become married. We don't expect them to work full time. To young for the military or to vote. They live at home. For most, they are expected to "get educated" in a formal fashion (i.e. go to school!) and not much else.

 

The beauty of Scouting is it provides and opportunity in a controlled safe environment to learn teamwork, leadership, citizenship, character, etc. for this age group. I firmly believe if we expect more out of our youth, they can and usually do, deliver.

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No I won't go back and quote from "Hard Times" again.

I question if organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Boys Brigade sprung up to keep idle adolescents busy.

Looking at the very early days of Scouting in London. I see that the boys formed patrols and tried to organize themselves long before there was any real organization. They were captivated by the books that Baden Powell had written and were looking for adventure. If we look back over history we see a lot of Lads around this age have answered the same call.

Eamonn.

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Back in olden days there weren't adults running around finding things for kids to do. Kid's built rafts; went fishing, swimming, biking; they build secret clubhouses in the woods; etc.

 

Back in the day we'd play pick-up games of baseball, basketball, football. Sometimes, we'd schedule games with boys from other neighborhoods. We'd refight world war II or re-settle the west.

 

Back in days gone by, we'd spend summer evenings playing tag, tickle-monster, or release.

 

Two things were very remarkable about these times and the activities. One was that kids of all ages would play together. The big high school kids would be the pitchers or the quarterbacks. Special rules would be made for the little guys who couldn't hit. The other remarkable thing was that parents were rarely involved. Disputes were settled without adult intervention. Rules were made without adults. Games were organized without adults getting involved. Adults were around, my mother would often pop out of the kitchen door with a big batch of bug juice.

 

Now, we've taken all initiative away from kids of all ages. Little kids have "play dates" where two mom's have decided that Jimmy and Johnny should play together from 2 PM to 3:45 PM at which time Jimmy must go play with Fred and Johnny is expecting Bobby to show up. Games are all organized with excessive amounts of adult intervention.

 

My kids are in a summer swim team program. It takes about 40 (yes, forty) adults to run an event and that doesn't include the concession stand. Look at the adults that it takes to "run" a Scout troop.

 

Every now and then, one of the local churches will try to have a "pick-up" basketball time. The kid's don't show up because they don't know how to play without adult intervention.

 

Okay, where was I going with this? I don't know any more.

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To elaborate a little more on Eamonn's post in reply to Mrs. Smith, children, both sexes, bought BP's book. They read it and acted it out. There was a war and he was their hero.

 

When he returned from the war, he felt compelled to do something with what he saw. The children responded for many reasons. It did not happen overnight and he did not think it out quickly. There was an industrial revolution that changed things and there was war that changed things, as it always does. There was an economy in transition. Education was being changed as well as science and math. There was a vast upheaval and then after a few short years it was back to a world war.

 

Children wanted and needed security and Scouting could give it to them. Scouting has always struggled between the military and Outdoors. Seton was cast out because of that very issue. Dan Beard was kept because of it.

 

Was there adolescence before the 20th century? If there was, it was not what we know as adolescence. It may have been more subdued or done in such a way that sublimation was the correct term to explain what was happening.

 

We do know that people have been the same or similar in many respects over the centuries. We also know that there are many cultures and many ways of bringing a youth into adulthood. How do we compare 16th century adolescence to 18th century adolescence? I guess it depends on the nation and all of the aspects of that culture to develop a baseline of comparison.

 

We try simplifying it so that we can bring it into focus and understand it but I am not sure that we will. It is like trying to understand that there was a Rome that was vast, wealthy, and strong militarily. It had an educational system and religions and law. It stood for centuries yet, somehow it disappeared.

 

We try to grasp with straws the complexities of the universe for the shear fun of it not to find the truth.

 

FB

 

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