Adolescents naturally have very late-shifted chronotypes. I.e. compared to older adults they tend to wake late in the day and stay up late at night. Yet American high schools have ridiculously early start times. For example it's not unusual for schools to start at dawn. Which means students taking the bus may have to leave before dawn.
We have decades of research demonstrating the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive functioning, decision making judgement and emotional stability. It's little wonder that a segment of society that we're forcing into chronic sleep deprivation acts "immature".
We just don't recognize the problem because it's too easy for us old folks to write off the symptoms as the "foibles of youth". Yet it's us old folks pushing these torturous schedules onto teens, despite mountains of scientific evidence saying otherwise.
There's a reason our living conditions are significantly better today, and we didn't reach that state by repeating the same dumb mistakes every time.
Life was governed only by the sun, not artificial clocks.
The whole community was always at least partially awake.
It seems with evolution, there are always these "common sense" answers. Oh, no cows to milk! no need to get up early, hence, teens have a different clock? It just seems like handwavy nonsense that makes "common sense" to us and it's accepted.
School just sucks. It sucked when I was well rested and it sucked when I wasn't. Sleep deprivation may impact peformance. but I know one thing - the later I could wake up, the later I stayed up. Curious to see how these changes in California actually impact students.
Especially since there is bias added (they know of the existence of the scientist).
There is nothing about marriage or being sexual or able to provide offspring that implies the older and stronger individuals in your tribe will let you have full rights or do what you want. For all we know, you are still expected to do what they tell to you, except that you are pregnant as a bonus.
But we do. We don't know today's hunter-gatherers are identical to those of 10,000 years ago or more, but we've got them and there have been many studies of them.
These are the societies which set rites of passage into adulthood that coincide with puberty. Teens are then considered full fledged adults who can marry and are expected to work and participate in community decision-making.
In a hunter-gatherer society there’s not much need to wake up early. Everyone’s circadian rhythms tend to be set by the sun, with no artificial light apart from firelight. Since teens can marry, there’s nothing stopping them from staying up later to have sex. But other than that, they’ll wake up when the sun naturally wakes them up.
There is a reason electric lighting is associated with educational achievement in the third world.
We also don't recognize it because our salary literally depends on not recognizing it - when both parents work, school times have to match the typical workday, with an extra offset for commute.
But, AIUI you have the cause and effect the wrong way here - when many more people entered full-time work then wages have adjusted downwards. Society "chose" this situation; mind you I'm pretty sure we didn't accommodate teen brain in the past when that would have been possible (in middle class families, where a caregiver was home).
- sugar everywhere
- deficit in many important nutriments
- attention depleting tech and env
- boomer culture messages in a post 2000 economy and social climate
- low but continuous stressing life style
- micro doses of thousands of pollutants in food, air and water
I have seen first hand how working those improved my quality of life, and I have not even lived my all life on those conditions.
I find it amazing how resilient they are, considering.
And yes, that all translates to attitude.
Adults can't avoid seeing that teenage kids are tormented. So why don't they do something about it? Because they blame it on puberty. The reason kids are so unhappy, adults tell themselves, is that monstrous new chemicals, hormones, are now coursing through their bloodstream and messing up everything. There's nothing wrong with the system; it's just inevitable that kids will be miserable at that age.
I could not agree more. Adolescent education is completely and utterly broken in most developed societies and is causing pain and misery on a vast scale, but fixing it is a complete non-priority for those who could.
Greta, when you're done with climate change, can you fix schools please?
Observing my own children there has been a clear point where social/interpersonal interactions have become more fraught; and these "moody" periods are relatively arbitrary, not depending on tiredness AFAICT.
Now, that's not too say tiredness is not also a factor in mood, but denying the hormonal effect seems at odds with my personal observations, at least.
Why would the invalid hormoned as destiny expectations be assumed valid for youth as well? View as a possible obstacle to overcome rather than destiny.
My grandmother and grandfather maintained a farm while both worked in the mill. Mornings started at 4:30am six days a week.
Grandma had a picture with all of the young girls at the mill, and would always point out a couple of the unmarried girls who were 16 in the picture and say that they were old maids.
It is possible, maybe likely, that we have extended childhood too far, and I am sure that given the right upbringing, my 11-year-old daughter could function just as well as my grandmother, but I have not prepared my daughter for that type of life. My daughter has never been required to start the day with chores; she has never been responsible for others. If we are going to change how we treat teens, we need to start a lot younger and change how we raise children.
My wife currently nannies children and her "field notes" are just incredible. Children want to have responsibility. They want to have jobs. Not that I'm suggesting they go into factory work, but there's no reason a 12 year old can't learn to start perfecting something like a croissant.
Instead if young kids clamor for something to do, some parents do stuff like help them setup a lemonade stand. This is hardly DOING something, its mostly sitting there waiting for cars(???) to stop so they can sell sugar water. It is already below their skill level and a waste when they could be learning something more meaningful.
We have definitely extended childhood too far. We basically park child bodies into little feedlots called schools, which seems generally to only be because of a total lack of imagination on the part of adults. Children should be DOING things. https://twitter.com/simonsarris/status/1192477007986221057
This article made the rounds last year:
Families In A Maya Village In Mexico May Have The Secret To Getting Kids To Do Chores - NPR
Discussion here on HN, with 382 points and 202 comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17280710
(Disclaimer: Having read neither, I cannot vouch for their contents.)
Extending childhood is related to spending a lot of time
preparing children to do things other than what they grow up with. This is necessary for a resilient society that is something more than a collection of family farms and for social mobility.
This extended "training time" is less necessary if A) you live in a preindustrialized society where you aren't expected to spend a significant amount of your life working for an employer, and B) all you are going to do is what your parents are doing on the same property they live on.
Imagine a kid living in the suburbs that wants to do this sort of independent farmwork and self sustaining life from scratch without family support, vs a the child of a farmer.
"Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures. In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens, who are in turn highly influenced by certain aggressive industries. This makes no sense. Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become."
That's only true if the objective of learning is to maintain the status quo. Given the older generations prepensity for ignoring serious problems (climate, housing, etc) and their rampant materialism, I'm not sure teens should be learning from them.
Also, figuring things out from first principles without all the received wisdom of experience has value. You might make a bunch of mistakes and get things very wrong sometimes, but that's OK. You can find things people missed the first time around. That can be useful.
Is this really that bad? How well do you think teens understand the issue from both sides? It's easy to be against materialism when you yourself don't have to worry about bills and food. It's a lot harder when you have to make choices in what you can and can't get because of your lack of resources.
Perhaps if teens understood money better there wouldn't be such a huge problem with student loans. But there is, which indicates that they're not very good at managing money.
Edit: this applies to teenagers of today. Perhaps if they are handed more responsibility as they grew up they would be better at managing money?
“Materialism” (as a social issue rather than a philosophical worldview) is bad because it focuses on endless consumption of unnecessary things. Not food and shelter, but designer sunglasses and pre-ripped jeans.
As for the student debt problem in the US and the UK, that’s because education now costs as much as the deposit on a very nice house — never mind a starter home! — whereas in the UK a generation ago it was free and two generations ago the government paid you to attend. This education has been sold as “getting you a good job” but then it turned out to be necessary for even for jobs that, a generation ago, didn't need a degree. So we have young people starting the same jobs three years later and in massive debt despite having followed the advice of their elders which everyone concerned was expecting to give them a career boost.
I got lucky. I picked software engineering because it seemed fun, but it turned out to be the quickest route to one of the highest income professions. If I’d been on a “normal” salary while burdened with the £36k of tuition fees my niece can expect to pay, there’s a very real chance I would reach retirement age without clearing that loan, and no amount of playing games with myself about spending £0.50 a day on food or looking for the lowest rent room and putting up with rats eating my bedsheets (real examples from university life) would fix that.
Students are going to take out student loans for as long as every adult they talk to before then extolls to them the limitless value of a college education.
That’s the next sentence, which makes the preceding sentiment seem even worse. Is the teen world the “world of Britney Spears”? That’s a ridiculous thing to think. Are teens talking to each other often talking about pop celebrities? No, saying so would be a cringe inducing generalisation.
Often they seem to be talking about celebrities, media is really celebrity focused.
Every teen/pre-teen can do Fortnite dances because pop culture is such a massive force in youth culture.
The people they are about to become.
"Learning from something" includes "Learning from mistakes", and seeing those mistakes helps learning.
> The factory system doesn't work in the modern world, because two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date. We need education spread over a lifetime, not jammed into the early years—except for such basics as reading, writing, and perhaps citizenship. Past puberty, education needs to be combined in interesting and creative ways with work. The factory school system no longer makes sense.
This also does not make sense to me. I can't think about anything I learned in college (mechanical engineering) in mid 90s that is obsolete today. For example, we used to do engineering drawings by hand. It's an amazing skill - kind of like learning how to program in assembly. It's an enlightening experience - once you mastered it, learning tools like SolidWorks (or Python for programming) is a breeze. Similarly, nothing you learned in college as a CS major 30 years ago would be obsolete today. Most algorithms and data structures already existed and haven't changed much. Programming in C is still (arguably) the best way to learn how program a computer if you want to understand what's going on under the hood. If you learn about OSes, databases, networking, compilers, computer architecture etc by studying specific examples from 1989 you would learn 90% of what you need to succeed as a software engineer today.
Both your education and mine (electrical engineering) focused on the means of acquiring and communicating knowledge (reading comprehension, critical thinking, technical writing), not on rote memorization. That basis sets you up for a lifetime of adaptability through discovery and learning. If you're never learned how to assimilate new knowledge, you're going to have a hard time staying relevant in a rapidly-changing society.
There is some inherent in a "research what you need for your occupation" but it is specialized and divergent over time. So while plumbers may learn to work with sonar robodrones once they come out and become the norm or doctors with nanoprobes if things advance the foundation often atrophies to not in fact being smarter than a 5th Grader.
I am not sure how well it can be combined with work given that it is extrinsic to its many varied purposes that are already an incentives and strategic mess.
The "best" way to enforce learning when it is fundamentally misalligned would involve a bueracratic gatekeeping hell sure to spark rebellion both overt and covert. Good luck in China let alone a liberal democracy.
A less foregone dystopian way would be to subsidize general learning but even that would have opportunity and systemic costs that would limit uptake without obvious payback.
This makes no sense to me. Are they saying 15th century kids only interacted with other kids 4 hours a week?
I'm not saying adolescents should not be educated (in fact, I think there is lots of unrealized opportunity for society in public education), just that this is a tasty quasi-political power that's hard to give up and tempting to expand.
I think it's very telling the intention behind the institution when you see this.
The school system felt utterly farcical. Like being trapped in a cage with a bunch of idiots.
In adult life you can quit a job, leave a town, change yourself. As a teenager your most expressive period is robbed from you.
Only if you've got the wealth. Most adults are wage slaves chained to grinding, unfulfilling jobs just to pay the bills and feed their families. Childhood might not seem so bad to them.
That an adult might find it difficult, or potentially end up in a worse situation, is besides the point.
And obviously I'm not talking about running away from a family.
The only thing I can suggest is the idea of picking up your own cross and bearing it. Kid/job/mortgage has a lot of uncertainty built into it at the moment.
Whether they are more competent than we assume is an interesting angle, but I look back at my teens and feel like I was both competent enough for most work but also utterly useless compared to what I am now.
Edit: I'd reform school to add in lots of responsibility for older kids to teach and care for younger kids. Also perhaps get them helping with food production in gardens, farms, grocers, restaurants. What other meaningful work could we find for teens?
Your teen can probably balance a checkbook and pay bills. Teens also eventually come to a point where they're really interested in driving and, in America, you can use that to make them run errands, take younger siblings to school, and so on. Even a scooter works fine for a lot of that.
Also, to use an example from my real life, as a teen I just... stayed with the other women and talked about their lives and offered emotional support, helped smooth over relationships, that sort of thing. Yeah I wouldn't have been able to negotiate someone's salary or something but most teens can tell Aunt Marie that Aunt Alice wants her coffee machine back while eliding the "and thinks you're ungrateful and live in a hovel" part. And I helped them with math too.
Responsibility forced upon without the perks is just another burden. They miss the important aspect of it long term - agency and power in decision making. I know many forever turned off from volunteering as they view community service a punishment they were unjustly assigned.
The correct answer is to support them in something they are interested in.
I guess it depends on the kids whether more directly aiding through work is a greater benefit than preparing for later work.
Agree. Although it probably should come gradually, a 15 y.o. probably shouldn't be judged as hard as 25 y.o. or a 55 y.o.
I've read before that a theory is that choosing 18 years (or 21 or whatever it is where you live) as the age of adulthood was done in a time when people were actually held responsible for their actions after they were 15.
I also think I read that certain parts of the brain didn't develop until a person start being held accountable for their actions.
I cannot find it at the moment so for what I and you know this is pure speculation (unless anyone remember it or care to find it) but to me it doesn't sound to unreasonable
Interestingly enough, people are legally held criminally responsible at ages of 14-16 in quite a few countries. But even in those countries they're often treated as just kids with no say.
What does this even mean? I don't feel as though "restrictions" are countable, fungible things.
To hold an avarage job and participate in society as an informed citizen you seem to need at least ~20 years of education in western economies.
We can't just go around by our instincts like animals any more without getting in trouble, I think that is what caused the extension of childhood.
When teens reach their adolescence, the functioning of the frontal lobe in the brain is tuned down. The frontal lobe is what gives people self control; tune it down and you become more impulsive, emotional and risk seeking. The frontal lobe only returns to its normal mode when people reach their early twenties.
Source: e.g https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?Con...
"Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet."
What got me is "30 is the new 20". That may be mostly economic, driven by student loans keeping twentysomethings broke and the decline of middle class job openings.
I'm more concerned for my little sister who's accumulating student loans.
> American teens are subjected to more than 10 times as many restrictions as mainstream adults, twice as many restrictions as active-duty U.S. Marines, and even twice as many as incarcerated felons.
> It's hard to keep a marriage together when there is constant conflict with teens.
Are conflicts with teens really cause of that many divorces?
> The factory system doesn't work in the modern world, because two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date.
That is highly exaggerated statement. I am pretty sure 2 years after you are just find.
> Unfortunately, most people learn in those classrooms to hate education for the rest of their lives.
Is this actually true that over 50% of people hate school in America?
> young people are integrated into adult society as soon as they are capable, and there is no sign of teen turmoil
Is this result of actual study of teens in those societies? Or just reflection of assumptions? Because from what I read about history, in European societies
where young people worked in the past, young people were still quick to join revolutionary movements or just get drunk and fight it out in streets. Plus,
they often lived and work with families for economic reasons.
> Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures.
Were they really "in touch" with siblings and cousins only for 4 hours a week?
Plus, the reason teens are not considered adults is not that their IQ would be low. The reason is impulsivity and similar considerations.
Maybe what we call "impulsivity" is just an healthy reaction against absurd constraints and monotony? We forget very easily that we are animals, and the way we have been living for the last few centuries is radically different from the way we were evolved to live.
Perhaps factory-like schooling is inherently painful, and what we call "adulthood" is just learned helplessness...
2.) Before factory like schooling, I guess we mean feudalism and traditional farm households, teenagers were not free at all by any meaningful definition of that word. No one was.
3.) How far exactly in history do you want to go? Because you really have to go so far that we dont really know how people lived. But, it might involve getting pregnant at 14 by a strong dude who decides restrictions placed on you due to being stronger.
You still need to sew cloth, create shoes, create candles, feather-bed and what not.
It is monotonous long before then. It becomes routine and monotony right after birth, when they are babies and toddlers.
The birthday parties are step out of monotony already and are extra-curricular activities - which they quite often transport themselves from and to and by which time you are already returning to normal life.
> People where much freer in many senses, for example most of their time was not dictated by someone else.
Young people were expected to listen to parents and live with them. You had to care about about animals if you had them, siblings, own children, craft needed stuff and generally work a lot.
You would not be able to wake up whenever you wanted.
* Teenage life is a constant struggle against rules laid down by adults. They have money, legal power, and cultural experience. To be fair, teens are brats.
* Between me and my three siblings, only one of us did not cause the parents to consider divorce. Two siblings did cause divorces.
* The factory system really doesn't work. I recall ranting in debate class about how there isn't a single industry whose entry-level workflows are taught in school and yet high-schoolers are expected to be qualified to enter the workforce after graduation.
* 50% sounds quite low. Almost everybody hated school. In order to not hate school, one would have to be liked by teachers, high-performing both academically and in clubs, not mind hours of studying and cramming, and be at the top of the social hierarchy. I can think of maybe two people from my graduating class who definitely did not hate school, one of whom was valedictorian.
* Social networks are essential. Even as the weird geeky kid, people still constantly sent me instant messages and chats. Cell phones weren't yet common; I can only imagine that teens are even more gregarious now.
And sure, kids shouldn't marry young. I only saw one pair of teens doing that in my graduating class, but it does happen occasionally.
The article author advocates for early marriage. I am not saying that it is good idea nor how often it happened. I am reacting to article author claiming it would be a good idea to marry them teenagers.
And the generation before that often started work at 14, I recall chatting with a retired guy who had started work at the GPO as a telegram messenger boy at 14
And in more rural areas of the US they would have worked on the farm from a young age.
I don't get this point? Does algebra get outdated in two years? History? Grammar? Big O notation? Design Patterns? Concrete pouring techniques? Basic chemistry?
So you end up with someone who "knows" Big O because they memorized the current algorithm and and what works best in each situation but if you present them with a new algorithm, they will not be able to tell you if it is better or not because they can't do the analysis.
There are alot of people who just want what is required to do their job now, are not interested in how the tools they use work and resent it if you change the tool or make it work differently.
I got to hear how communists are bad mkay and weed is very dangerous. Today I expect they spend a bunch of time hearing how cross dressing is perfectly natural and anyone thinking differently is bad mkay. (just to be clear, not passing judgement on the truth of any of the above just noting a large portion of public "education" is ill informed opinion and attempted indoctrination).
Growing up in a very religious household did some damage to me. But thankfully the schools taught us to break out of group think, the scientific method, and exposed us to a lot more viewpoints.
Though I doubt letting younger teens enter into long term contacts. Teens can be impulsive and lack the experience to comprehend the consequences.
For whatever reasons, no real english language Wiki entry (this is all there is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupp#Alfred_Krupp), but there are multiple books on his incredibly productive life. Makes any modern entrepreneur look like a wantrepreneur. He did it as a teenager.
I don't think the PT article is exactly right, but history teaches us it is obviously true that teenagers are capable of much more than we ask of them now. Alexander won his first battles at 16. Augustus was active in politics as a teenager. Keeping kids cooped up playing video games and skateboarding is just keeping competition caged in, rather than unleashing human fire on the world.
There are twofold issues with it - one is the level of career education for the demands and the lack of true entry level ladders - most jobs skilled up and automated and two that existing areas which need labor aren't funded as much as they should nor alternatives chosen.
Your objection is out of place considering there’s been no discussion of details; certainly those need to be hammered out. Unfortunately, your comment is baselessly dismissive and unhelpful.
One of the most popular misunderstandings of neuroscience going around recently is the "brain isn't fully developed until age 25" idea. This is often parroted and repeated, often by otherwise quite knowledgeable people, without any understanding of what brain development is, or how it occurs. The idea is used to support notions of restriction and sheltering, which is totally at odds with every understanding of how brain development actually occurs. The brain develops in response to novel experience, and solely in response to novel experience. Lack of novel experiences leads to lack of brain development. When an infants visual cortex is immature and incapable of stereoscopic vision, the exactly wrong course of action would be to cover one eye. Doing so would prevent the brain from developing the ability to integrate vision from both eyes into a coherent single image. The issue is even more problematic when you look at what criteria is used to judge the brains "immaturity" in the material supporting the "immature until 25" claim. What they examine is neuroplasticity. They observe that neuroplasticity reduces substantially after age 25. They interpret that as a sign that the brain is 'done' with it's primary development, but that's a bit of an arguable point. It is just as likely, in my opinion, that neuroplasticity in a high state is the desirable condition and that its reduction is a consequence of the end of introduction of large quantities of new experiences due to most people entering the working world and settling into a 'routine' life.
On a lighter note, just imagine if this perspective were to change, socially. If in 10 or 20 years time prejudice against teens were viewed with as much disgust as racism and sexism are now. Old tweets griping about teens being surfaced and people being 'cancelled' over them, etc. It would be quite different. But, there would probably be markedly less school shootings.
No, it isn't neuroplasticity, it's capacity for executive function, which reaches a basic level in early adolescence, but continues to develop through adolescence and early adulthood, is at its peak from about the mid-20s to early-30s, and regresses slightly thereafter back to a level similar to the late teens by about the 70s.
Neuroplasticity is usually what people point to when claiming the young have an advantage in learning or adapting to new environments, but not when talking about teens not being ready to be trusted with the full responsibilities of adults.
The ones getting shat on for taking student loans are long term thinkers relatively speaking - and also illustrate that it doesn't always work out.