Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How "Adult" are You? The Test of Adultness

Dr. Robert Epstein is someone who "gets it". Formally the editor in chief of Psychology Today, he has now developed a test to determine how adult an individual is that "measures 14 different competencies that appear to define adult functioning in modern society." This test is revolutionary in that it is not just designed just for adults, but anyone competent enough to take it from the very young to the very old. His research, that is, from this test has blown away the myth that the adolescent brain is any way different than the adult brain in life competence.

You can take the Test for Adultness yourself for free at: Howadultareyou.com, and see how you score.

Some adults might be surprised how competent they really are at being an adult, as there is little difference between how the average 13 year old scores and how the average 30 or 40 year old scores. In fact, some 13 year olds are more competent, according to the test.

He argues that because of this "adults generally underestimate the abilities of our teens." This underestimation is manifested in how adults isolate, infantilize, and restrain "young people" from putting their natural abilities to use, particularly in a time period of life he describes as being the "peak" of creativity and productivity. And that because of this, so many teens are turning to recreational drugs, risky sexual behavior, and suicide as a means of coping with this social expectation.

What's more, his book, "The Case Against Adolescence," describes the importance of moving away from this social bigotry regarding age (ageism, pathologized childhood, adult-centrism, as well as the youth bias...etc) , to a society that recognizes an individual's competence, not their age. If we really want the best for young people, we can't treat them like infants, and this includes children as well. We have to treat them like human beings. "Adolescence" doesn't allow us to do that, so therefore it must be abolished.

There comes a time when the parental urge to "protect" has to be rendered silent by the human urge to set free. Now is the time.

Epstein is also a proponent of the apprentice/guild oriented society, and writes that "adolescence" is simply an invention of the industrial age, where the educational system of "12 year" schooling served a purpose that is no longer relevant in the modern information age. In this he believes any discipline, be it a trade or a professional field, should develop its own guild structure for instructing young people in the field, if high school is not serving their motivations and interests to the fullest. There are no doubt reams of statistics to show that, for the most part, it no longer does.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Future of Childhood

Recognize him? Of course not. He's the child of the future, stripped of his most identifying physical traits. He has no personality, no interests, no hobbies, and lives no where. In fact, despite the fact that he appears in this photograph, and is logged at the federal government, and has a birth certificate indicating "he" was born (whoever he is), "he" does not even exist.

He has no rights of his own. He is housed, schooled, and fed, and if these needs are not met he is placed in custody of the state, that is all. Despite the fact he does not have any rights of his own, he is responsible in many states for his actions, and can be tried as an adult in many jurisdictions if the judge deems it appropriate. He is therefore responsible for his actions when it is convenient, but deemed completely incapable when not convenient. Neither have anything to do with him and everything to do with who is judging him, because he has no legal discretion over himself, his future, or his own well-being. He is often held accountable but not accounted for.

He is alive, but not living. He is on four different adult medications for three disorders not clinically proven to exist within his age group. He has developed a tic disorder as a side effect, which will soon be remedied with further medication. There are two companies in the Pharmaceutical Industry that are making thousands of dollars a year off his existence. Despite this, he has no medical or behavioral complaints.

He is protected from utilizing rights as a human being, but allowed to be preyed on by marketing, in school solicitation, and brand placement. His eyes have been obscured but the corporate logos on his clothes are always visible. He does not exist, but he does leave a large footprint in the economy. Despite the fact that he can't utilize rights as a human being, he is often sloganized with uplifting but deceptive messages of personal empowerment meant only to incite his perpetual consumption.

He is criminalized for "horsing around," fined for sidewalk chalk drawing, and not allowed entrance into "child-free-zones." His playgrounds have been dismantled for fear of safety allegations, and he is taken into police custody if he discovered playing past local curfew. Every activity he is allowed to participate in comes with a membership fee. Every activity he is not allowed to participate in can have him fined. Participation in activities deemed dangerous or not advised can see him removed from his home and placed under state custody for his own protection.

He is not yet 18 years old. Therefore, his humanity has been taken away for his own protection.