Clicking around the homeschool/gifted blogosphere I bumped into a mom homeschooling gifted middle schoolers — yikes! With an 8th birthday coming up soon, I guess we aren’t far from there. The Princess Mom at Growing Up Gifted (aka, Help! My Kids are Smarter than Me!).
I’m often thinking ahead to these years. I expect Violet to finish high school work at least as early as I did, if not earlier, so what will she be doing as a teenager, and what do I need to be doing to help her with that?
Growing up Gifted cites a survey in EdWeek saying that
college professors generally want incoming students to have a deeper understanding of a selected number of topics and skills, while high school teachers in all content areas tend to rate a far broader array of content and skills as ‘important’ or ‘very important.'”
In an earlier post she also cited a very interesting article by Robert Epstein, author of The Case Against Adolescence, former editor of Psychology Today, and a contributing editor for Scientific American. The conclusion of Epstein’s research: Let’s Abolish High School.
I’m a father of four children, and about 10 years ago I noticed—I couldn’t help but notice—that my 15-year-old son was remarkably mature. He balanced work and play far better than I did, and he seemed quite ready to live on his own. Why, I wondered, was he not allowed to drive or vote, and why did he have so few options? Simply because of his age, he couldn’t own property or do any interesting or fulfilling work, and he had no choice but to attend high school for several more years before getting on with his “real” life.
And then, after a very interesting discussion of child development and American historical trends, he contends:
A careful look at these issues yields startling conclusions: The social-emotional turmoil experienced by many young people in the United States is entirely a creation of modern culture. We produce such turmoil by infantilizing our young and isolating them from adults. Modern schooling and restrictions on youth labor are remnants of the Industrial Revolution that are no longer appropriate for today’s world; the exploitative factories are long gone, and we have the ability now to provide mass education on an individual basis.
Teenagers are inherently highly capable young adults; to undo the damage we have done, we need to establish competency-based systems that give these young people opportunities and incentives to join the adult world as rapidly as possible.
I could not help but think of friends who live this very dilemma and take a very sane and gentle approach to getting on with life rather than killing time until adult life can start.