Friday, April 13, 2007

Robert Epstein's Book

In September 2003, I posted about Robert Epstein's then-forthcoming book, tentatively titled "Adolescence Abolished."

As Glenn Reynolds points out, that book is finally here: The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen. Glenn and Helen Reynolds interview Dr. Epstein about his book here. I very much look forward to reading it.

And here's a provocative and recent article by Epstein in Education Week:
Let's Abolish High School
By Robert Epstein

Well, not quite. But while writing a new book called The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, I explored some ideas that go almost that far.

I’m a father of four children, and about 10 years ago I noticed—I couldn’t help but notice—that my 15-year-old son was remarkably mature. He balanced work and play far better than I did, and he seemed quite ready to live on his own. Why, I wondered, was he not allowed to drive or vote, and why did he have so few options? Simply because of his age, he couldn’t own property or do any interesting or fulfilling work, and he had no choice but to attend high school for several more years before getting on with his “real” life.

As a longtime professor and researcher, I got curious. Were our young people always required to attend school, and were their work opportunities always limited to babysitting, yard work, and cleaning the floors at fast-food joints? Were they always subject to so many restrictions? Are teenagers necessarily incompetent and irresponsible, as the media tell us? Is there really an immature “teenage brain” that holds them back? After all, past puberty, technically speaking we’re not really children anymore, and presumably through most of human history we bore our young when we were quite young ourselves. It occurred to me that young people must be capable of functioning as competent adults, or the human race quite probably would not exist.

Over time, through interviews, surveys, and scholarly research, I began to investigate these matters in depth. What I learned amazed me — even shocked me.


Blogger said...

That was quite a remarkable comment you posted back in 2003! It has certainly been difficult getting this book to see the light of day. You'd be amazed at the resistance I found among publishers - but, then again, perhaps you would have predicted that resistance. For more information about the book, see

2:18 AM  

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