We don’t expect enough from our teens. And it’s hurting us as a society, says Newt Gingrich in last week’s Business Week.
“At age 13, [Benjamin] Franklin finished school in Boston, was apprenticed to his brother, a printer and publisher, and moved immediately into adulthood.
“John Quincy Adams attended Leiden University in Holland at 13 and at 14 was employed as secretary and interpreter by the American Ambassador to Russia. At 16 he was secretary to the U.S. delegation during the negotiations with Britain that ended the Revolution.
“Daniel Boone got his first rifle at 12, was an expert hunter at 13, and at 15 made a yearlong trek through the wilderness to begin his career as America’s most famous explorer. The list goes on and on.”
That was then and this is now? Times change? Well, he makes some pretty good points and maybe it’s time to change back to a model where we expect our kids to be more productive. Not back to sweatshops, but how about letting them do things that they love and letting them make money doing it? Our laws actually prevent able-bodied and willing kids from working part-time outside of lemonade stands, baby sitting, or newspaper delivery.
We’ve created adolescence to keep kids out of sweatshops but we’re past that now. We keep inner-city kids trapped in a lousy educational system and this contributes to gangs, drug problems, and irresponsible sexual activity. Even middle-class and wealthy kids have a lot more to contribute to society, but that resource goes untapped. Haven’t we noticed a shift with adolescence being pushed into mid-twenties and beyond?
What does this have to do with the Internet though? Let me hand it back over to Newt:
“Fortunately, innovations in technology and in financial incentives to learn offer hope.
“The Information Age makes it possible for young people to learn much faster than our current failed bureaucracies and obsolete curriculums permit. New systems such as Curriki, founded by Sun Microsystems and now an independent nonprofit, allow a community of teachers and learners to collaborate via the Internet to create quality educational materials for free—giving every American access to learning 24 hours a day.”
Makes it possible, yes, but only if somebody takes advantage of the opportunities will it make a difference.
What an inspiring story of Ashley Qualls, who started with $8 from her mom to start a website at age 14, and by the time she was 17 had a million-dollar business.
Most stories about teens and the Internet revolve around wasted endless hours, aimless social networking, instant messaging addiction. But Ashley decided to do something else. With a strong work ethic, she applied herself and lifted herself and her family from living in a one-bedroom apartment and insecurity into a $250,000 house and no more worries.
What are your kids squandering their time doing? Is technology controlling your kids’ time, or are your kids using technology to control their future, because the opportunities are there, and they appear to be endless.
[Hat tip to my friend Gary for pointing out the Gingrich article in Business Week. You should read the whole thing.]