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The Federalist Diaries
I Don’t Want to Grow Up, Part 3
solution to adult problems tomorrow depends on large
Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist, 1901-1978
In part 1 we looked at how the use of the word “kid” could affect our expectation and treatment of youth. There is the belief that youth have potential to help adults meet the great challenges of our times, but because we treat youth as “kids”, we fail to tap that potential. In part 2 we considered the possibility of implementing a serious, yet entertaining game, in order to persuade adults to refrain from using “kid” to refer to youth, as the first step toward changing the expectation and treatment of youth. We left off wondering whether youth would support a campaign to elevate their status.
Knowing that in Latin culture we have the quinciñera and the “sweet sixteen” party in English culture, I ask whether we could have a somewhat formal, somewhat enjoyable program to indicate maturity, regardless of the age of the youth? I would favor supporting service clubs like Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Optimist, and Soroptimist, as well as others, if they offered a program and evaluation leading to recognition of maturity, not too different from the process used by Boy Scouts of America to evaluate a candidate for the rank of Eagle. The difference would be that, while Scouts offered an outstanding hands-on program, the maturity program would ask more of youth with regard to self-reliance, selflessness, and sustainable solutions, in accordance with their potential. Also, more youth would be involved. (In other words, more “required merit badges” which would turn youth into knowledgeable leaders who could work alongside adults for the community.) And it would be appropriate that, having been recognized for maturity, a youth would receive appropriate privileges in his or her community.
Of course, this leads to questions. Which youth have the time away from studies and school activities to pursue a program of maturity? Which adults have the time to mentor the youth in such a program, more so if we wish to give the opportunity to a very large number of youth? And what privileges could be accorded which would be meaningful, without creating costs and without being vulnerable to crippling abuse?
The answer to these questions might lie in reverse order. First, if we had a set of inexpensive, if not cost-free, privileges for youth and accorded those privileges based on their exhibition of maturity, we would expect to attract a large number of youth. If the youth were evaluated on their exhibition of maturity, then they would strive to exhibit maturity, which means that they would not be “high maintenance”, that is, they would not take excessively of the time of adult mentors. So we would have adult mentors. Also, if the privileges were very desirable, the youth would reprioritize studies and school activities.
Presently, youth do community service through school clubs and receive recognition and rewards. The aforementioned privileges would be different, if not more attractive, so that youth would do community service and more. These privileges might be legislated, granted by resolution or simply stipulated by a group of adults. For a glimpse of what the privileges might encompass, see the text at www.mymontebello.com/textbook_en_c17.html .
The best vehicle for a program of maturity might be through existing school clubs. We would ask more of youth and give them more in return. Hopefully, the clubs would grow in size and the level of maturity exhibited would be such that adult mentoring, as by a teacher-adviser, would need to be only nominal.
I would ask that, for a program of maturity, our service organizations work together, to maximize the scarce resources of time and money.
December 21, 2007
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