If we want to know why young people today are drowning emotionally, when young people in earlier generations were not, we might start by asking what’s different. It isn’t economic privation. Previous generations of young people lived through World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. Immigrants arrived here with nothing. There have always been those in dire economic circumstances.But perhaps there are no responsible adults any more. The column notes, intriguingly, that students spend more time in class in the United States than they do in those supposedly sensible European and Asian countries with school all year around.
[T]he sit-at-your-desk-all-day method of schooling is detrimental to learning and overall brain health, as is the elimination of recess, gym and other “non-academic” outlets during the school day. After-school time is filled with structured activities. Parents worry -- with good reason -- that their children are “overscheduled.” Why are we insisting that children do so much? Because of our expectations for them? Because there is no one at home to take care of them?Between increased labor force participation by women and no-fault divorce, the answer to that final question might be straightforward. But the overscheduled kids, and the positional expectations of parents, whether in traditional families or living alternative lifestyles? How much of that shall we lay off on the U.S. News problem, and the kids stressed to get into the universities that haven't fully deteriorated into access-assessment-remediation-retention or the subprime party school? And recess eliminated because too many playgrounds are close enough to gangland that fifteen minutes of kickball can mean collateral damage? (Thus, if recess is unsafe at some schools, all schools within the district lose recess.)
Then there's the conflict between celebrating transgressivity and lifting the lid on the id.
If we wonder why we have a “culture of sexual assault” on college campuses, maybe it is because we don’t speak up when everything in our culture treats sex like recreation, or a spectator sport. And we would certainly never say, “Well, kids are going to smoke anyway, so let’s give them filtered cigarettes,” or “They’re going to drink and drive, so let’s just put roll bars on the car.”Quite.
Why are we putting our children through this -- any of it? We’ve been doing whatever we like and telling ourselves for several decades now that “the kids are all right.” Clearly, many of them are not all right.” And it’s time we stopped denying our role in it.