Monthly Archives: October 2014

The fallacy of teenage rebellion

Growing up as a teenager I was told by friends, teachers, my parents (among others) that my teenage years were the time for rebellion. It was assumed that a child between the ages of 14 and 18 would by definition lash out against adult figures, authority, the system in order to move through some innate urge triggered by hormones, peer pressure and social anxiety.  Then, once we graduate from high school, turn 19 and go to college a magical transition happens and we are told the time for rebellion is over- the focus shifts to choosing a major, finding a career, getting married, etc.

To be honest, I did feel a need to rebel, yet I was and am still not convinced teenage rebellion is given a proper voice in our society. Perhaps the act of rebellion, rather than a phase that one must go through that represents hormonal shifts and labeled as “teenage angst”, is actually a cry for a shift in the way our culture deals with education (more like ‘instruction’), and the destruction of our true selves in order to fit into a societal mold.

Before going off the deep end into philosophical quagmire, let us imagine a world where teenagers are NOT rebelling against authority. Picture a classroom where every child 14-18 is obediently absorbing every thought, belief and byte handed to them. In this world, where is the innovation? Where is the challenge of the current paradigm in order to make way for the future? The teenage act of rebellion is not merely a hormonal shift (although one might say the hormones enable the rebellion to exist), but rather a precursor vision that something being taken for ‘normal’ and ‘necessary’ needs to change. Rebellion, when given proper context and a voice, helps the world shed its old skin and step into a new, necessary way of being.

And what happens when rebellion is not given a place, or is merely stereotyped, told to go in a corner, and count to 10? Google search ‘teenage violence’, ‘suicide rates’, ‘youth drug use’, ‘bullying’, ‘sexting’, ‘depression’, etc. etc. and you will have your answer. The world as we know it is screaming that there is something wrong with youth, yet rather than look at the distress signals as a sign to create a system that can listen to the message, we place a label on teenagers to isolate them and continue with business as usual.

My thoughts on rebellion, especially when looking at specific cases of youth who are ‘acting out’ is that teenagers are using rebellious behavior to tell us they are looking for more responsibility, more personal meaning in the world, and a place in which to share their feelings. All we need to do is open up the space to listen.

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The Importance of Student-Teacher Relationships

An often overlooked aspect of an educational system based on grades / test scores / aptitude tests is the interpersonal relationships between teachers and students. According to an article in The Atlantic magazine titled Kids Get Better Grades When They Share Similarities With Teachers, facilitating an awareness of connections between teacher and student can have a positive effect on grades.

Taking this a step further, my feeling is creating a healthy relationship between teacher and pupil would have the most positive impact on the educational system as a whole. In order for youth to learn from someone, it makes sense they would need to listen and have respect towards that person. Perhaps most importantly would be to create an understanding of shared connections between educator and learner- a process which would ultimately lead to empathy.

And once you have empathy? That is another story for another time…

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Service Learning Methodology

Adobe Photoshop PDF

A framework for building resiliency education in the public school system.

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Modern Myth-Making

I recently came across a video promoting a book called “Story Wars” dealing with the importance of empowered marketing that can help give consumers the tools and knowledge they need to make informed and socially responsible decisions.

The video is brilliant in making the case to learn more about the book (I am almost tempted to order), yet the glaring message I took from the story in the video is that we as a culture are not connected to a meaningful myth that is self-sustaining. In other words, the myths we have attached to are mainly consumer based or based on a system that has nothing to do with the laws of the natural world.

There are few, if any, current myths having to do with what Climate Change, the ever-present war on terror,  or the continuous stream of media really means to us as individuals and a connected global society. Not only that, the stories we do have also fall short on the universally important themes of sustainability, self-reflection, empathy and creative individualism. Are we unable to tell our own stories, and therefore have to hire marketers to do it for us? Or are we just telling ourselves the WRONG stories: stories that are fear-based, lack the total imaginative potential of humanity, or will fit into 6 second bytes of time that we spend between 2 meaningless acts as we go about our day?

My thought is we have to re-learn how to interpret the events in our lives, as individuals and communities, to be able to tell and share the stories that truly signify what we are going through. When we can do this collective re-interpretation, we can approach the problems and trials of each day with a wisdom founded on understanding the context of our lives by having a deeper lens with which to view the world. This needs to start with kids as young as 5, before they are told their imaginations aren’t “real” and won’t matter in the world. I say we have “personal myth-making” class as a part of every student’s upbringing- start at elementary school and go until graduation. Then, hopefully, the stories we tell ourselves and others can be true reflections, not only of who we are, but of what we hope to be.


The Myth Gap

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