Tag Archives: respect for youth

Looking Back on My Youth

I’ve been focused lately on education issues in my blogging, but I feel like giving it a rest and getting back to the main thrust of my passion and advocacy. That thrust is encouraging human development, and particularly the “rules of engagement” in that regard between adults and youth.

I say “youth” rather than “children”, because I think the “C-word” has become a derogatory term in our culture, implying either complete dependence or inability as in “you’re behaving like children!” In my opinion it is that inquisitiveness of a young person and willingness to ignore conventional wisdom that has empowered adults like Steve Jobs and earlier Bill Gates to revolutionize our use of information technology.

Given that prevailing connotation of the C-word, I can barely recall a time in my own remembrance of my youngest years when I felt either dependent or unable, except perhaps at times when I got caught up in the machinations of the schools I attended and the adults in those institutions that I ceded my native self-direction to. It seems like most of the memories from my thousands of hours sitting behind a school desk have faded due to the irrelevance to who I really was then and am today.

Instead I recall the times from age five on as I mostly directed my own life, including…

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Moving Beyond “Adultism” & Disrespect of Youth

It is stunning to me the “adultism” demonstrated by the disrespectful ways many adults still treat children and youth, particularly their own kids. I think it is one of the last vestiges in our society of pure patriarchal “power-over” protocol that is still considered acceptable by many adults in dealing with their children and youth. That protocol involves the assumption that the “superior” adult/parent has the absolute command and control over the “inferior” young person/child, such that any inappropriate behavior by the “inferior” reflects on and is highly disrespectful to the reputation of their “superior” and must be forcibly modified to save face.

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Power (Over) Corrupts

Power CorruptsThe pedophile priest scandal in the Catholic Church over the past 25 years is just one more example of the societal axiom that “power corrupts”. The phrase is actually a bit too simplistic, not all forms of power necessarily corrupt. I would say more specifically that power exercised from the top down (what some delineate as “power-over”) inevitably leads to some form of corruption if the people subjected to this form of leadership are not involved in the governance process and/or do not have comparable power of their own to check the actions of their leaders. This was a key factor motivating the American Revolution (e.g. “taxation without representation”), the French Revolution and many other similar insurrections… part of a larger trend in the world to move from authoritarian toward more egalitarian models of governance. This other idea of power flowing from empowered consent of the group is what is delineated as “power-with”. Continue reading →

Crying at the Curb

Eric's Middle School

Eric's Middle School

My mom had always said that, “Kids will tell you what they need”. That was her way of saying she respected a young person’s ability to know what was best for them. But when our pre-teen son started telling us with his behavior that his middle school was not what he needed, we were not listening, and that failure led to what I recall as the darkest period of my parenting experience. Continue reading →