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BusinessWeek has an interesting post on how adolescence could be a failed social experiment and we should let 13-yo kids take adult-level responsibilities.
While the idea is good, I still find it troublesome in a society that works more than ever and has less spare time even when technology should provide abundance of resources otherwise.
The idea of rushing kids into adulthood does sound a bit like getting them to be productive as soon as possible. What happens then with those years where you experiment and test new things? While they may appreciate the new-found responsibility at first, long-term consequences of this decision are unpredictable. Will we have less creative people? I for one didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at 13. If adolescence was a social experiment that enabled upper-class to take their kids out of sweat shops, then removing adolescence will land them into a new "intellectual sweat shop" environment. Take China for example. Kids (only kids!) are under a lot of pressure to be the very best at some specialized domain from very early in life. I would be surprised if this has no consequences. As Cal Newport wrote, there’s a general obsession with productivity that seems to be preying on our youngest. And then, the feared academic crisis.
So we translation from physical sweat shops to intellectual ones. How is this better? We seem to bring our children into a world where most of us are time-poor, even though there is a (theoretical) abundance of resources since the industrial revolution.
Most people accept laughable payment for their time (that includes academics). So time is the scarce resource. During adolescence, we are granted an oasis of time -that in retrospective, may feel wasted-. Do we want to rush teenagers out of it?