Teenagers and the Education Apocalypse

Friday, January 6th, 2017

While discussing The Education Apocalypse, Glenn Harlan Reynolds talks a bit about teenagers

It’s very interesting because if you look at history, we tended to treat adolescents as sort of junior adults and we didn’t — teenagerdom is a fairly recent invention and in fact we didn’t really start talking about teenagers until we had kids in school and we took kids who used to hang out with adults in adult settings, doing adult tasks where if you wanted to be respected, which everybody does, you are going to be respected by adults for being good at doing adult things.

Then we took all those kids and instead we segregated them into schools where they were around a bunch of other teenagers and you still want to be respected by the crowd you’re part of, but now your crowd is all people your own age. So you do the stuff that impresses people your own age and the problem with that is teenagers are idiots.

So the stuff that impresses teenagers is usually idiotic. So instead of being really good at bailing hay or fixing a plough or something like that that you might have done a hundred years before, you want to be good at drinking or dating or playing football or other things that are fundamentally more trivial but that appeal to your peer group.

I recommend reading the whole conversation transcript, but I’ll excerpt one more point that I’ve noticed, too:

If you have the experience as I’ve had of just driving through town driving past schools and then driving past prisons, they really often look a lot alike.


  1. Alrenous says:

    John Taylor Gatto is a rhetorician and thus an unreliable narrator, so it’s very helpful to have what appears to be an independent corroboration of his major points. Thank you.

  2. Isegoria says:

    I share your concerns about Gatto’s work, but I’m not sure how independent this corroboration really is.

  3. Lucklucky says:

    Journalists never ask why schools are one of the places that more “indiscriminate” shootings occur. Not gun clubs…

  4. Candide III says:

    He’s too glib by half talking about replacing “bad teachers” with “good teachers”. Where’s he going to get a million good teachers? Pfui. Also, networking does create wealth. Also, my impression is that the most popular reason for people to pull their children from public schools is too many unruly minorities, not bad academics per se.

  5. Jon says:

    I think you can get more than a million good teachers very easily — just permit/promote the hiring of educated people without teaching degrees. Many erudite retired people would welcome an opportunity to teach full- or part-time to keep in touch with society.

    That’s what many elite private schools do.

    Most smart people tend to be averse to investing time and money in an education degree that is basically just designed to restrict entry into the teaching profession.

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