Or: Why Johnny Won't Grow Up. It's because no one really wants him to. Start with the school system, which discourages the short route to self-reliance no matter how ill-suited it may be for the particular student. John Derbyshire on a plain truth the educational establishment will never acknowledge:
The problem is, Danny hates school. Though he is bright and surprisingly well-informed, the business of sitting in a desk being taught stuff is almost physically painful to him. This is constitutional and hereditary: My Dad was the same, so was my brother, and I was not much of a student myself. Incredible as it may be to our over-educated, credentialed-up-the-Wazoo ruling elites, quite a lot of people, including many smart people, have no interest in book learning and are miserable in a classroom. Yet these people are citizens too, with the unalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence. This is baffling and mightily inconvenient to the educrats, I know, but there you are.Danny's feelings about school are as normal and common as can be, and we all know it. The idea that every child should go to college, or even traditional high school (trade schools, anyone?) is pure stupidity, way behind the curve. No wonder Barack Obama loves it. And who can blame him? Empty credentials from the right places worked for him like a charm. Mark Steyn:
The “education” system is one of the biggest structural deformities in America today. It leads to later workforce participation and later family formation, both of which factor into our existentially catastrophic entitlement liabilities. And yet Obama wants every American child to go to college. What sort of “education” do you think they’ll be getting once that happens? And what value do you think that sheepskin will hold in the wider world?Read the rest. That sheepskin is already of very questionable value, considering what it gets you and what it costs. What also should be viewed with skepticism is the product being served up by our K-12 state-run schools. At best, sentencing a child to 180 days a year of it will likely deaden his initiative and curiosity, weaken the family, and teach him things parents would not have him learn. And if you have the misfortune to live in Atlanta, where erasers have taken the place of teaching, the whole thing is a fraud and an abuse from top to bottom.
The justification for this absurd prolongation of adolescence is that it opens up opportunities for the disadvantaged. But credential-fetishization has the opposite effect. Remember Ronald Reagan, alumnus of Eureka College, Illinois? Since then, for the first time in its history, America has lived under continuous rule by Ivy League — Yale (Bush I), Yale Law (Clinton), Harvard Business (Bush II), Harvard Law (Obama). In 2009, over a quarter of Obama’s political appointees had ties to Harvard; over 90 percent had “advanced degrees.” How’s that working out for you?
Then there's Washington DC public schools, perhaps the biggest educational sinkhole in the country:
For decades, D.C. public schools have been the worst in the nation. The system ranks 51st in the nation, and is plagued by school violence. Only 14% of eighth-graders are proficient in reading. Just 55% of the students in D.C. public schools graduate. During the 2007-08 school year, 3,500 calls were placed from D.C. public schools to the Metropolitan Police Department. More than 900 of those calls were to report school violence such as assault.Some DC teachers have itchy eraser-fingers, too, though you get the feeling no one really wants to turn that rock over:
By contrast [to Atlanta], the District’s inquiry has been much smaller in scope. Burke would not disclose how many investigators are assigned, but he said the office has conducted 10 interviews, with at least eight more scheduled. He added that investigators have been slowed because of the summer break.Steyn's allusion to "later workforce participation and later family formation" brings to mind this article, passed on to me by friend AS who keeps his eye on the British press: America's Lost Boys: Why ARE so many young men failing to grow up?
“Our disadvantage was that it was the end of the school year when this came up,” Burke said.
Burke said that while the office does have administrative subpoena power, it has not been used in the five years he has worked for the agency.
They've become the subject of dozens of films - the lazy twenty-something men who spend most of their time playing video games and refuse to get a job.It's perplexing, perhaps, given that the entire point of being a parent, in human life as in all of the natural world, is the eventual emergence of another mature, independent creature. One of the reasons for male arrested development cited in the article is the mismatch, mentioned above, between boys and the sit-still-and-be-quiet classroom. But the schools are just part of the problem. How many parents today actually want their sons to become full-fledged adults at age 21 or 22, working full-time, getting married and starting families? Not many, I'll wager. But it was different forty years ago:
But although the likes of Seth Rogen's layabout character in Knocked Up are funny to watch on screen, for psychologists - and parents - they are part of a disturbing trend.
According to new research, America is producing a generation of 'lost boys' who lack the drive to start their careers and instead drop out of college and end up languishing in their parents' basements surfing the internet.
Last year Vanessa Wight, of Columbia University, used data from the U.S. Current Population Survey to show how young people are increasingly delaying marriage.It was the cultural norm back then, but now a young couple who marries at the median ages of 1970 raises eyebrows among the older generation. These same adults wouldn't bat an eye upon hearing that the "kids" have decided to move in together but are taken aback at the mention of wedding bells. They may be vaguely uncomfortable with the video-game-addicted, do-nothing, go-slowly-with-the-flow "coffee culture" (described here by Mark Steyn), but it doesn't scare them nearly as much as the idea of their sons and daughters taking on the responsibilities of marriage and family before they're "ready."
In 1970, the median age for a first marriage was 20.8 for women and 23.2 for men. It is now 25.9 for women and 28.1 for men.
She said: 'Some research suggests that the notion of adulthood is changing and that marriage and parenthood, once the hallmarks of adult status, are no longer as important to defining a successful transition to adulthood.'
Values play a role in this, of course. Kids raised with post-sexual-revolution values won't see much point in getting married. Serial relationships, co-habitation, and contraceptives are the norm for them. Marriage is a quaint custom if you like that sort of thing but it's no longer a prerequisite for sharing one's life with another or even for bringing new lives into the world. The key to the whole "Why Johnny Won't Grow Up" puzzle may be this: the permanent commitment of traditional marriage isn't only irrelevant to most young adults; it's not embraced by their parents, either.
When the institution of marriage was strong and vital, perhaps it was a force which propelled young men into adulthood. Now that marriage is largely superfluous, it follows that adulthood is, too.
Linked at The Other McCain -- thanks!
Most recent posts here. Twitter feed here. Amazon store here.