Telling teens they are stupid is, well, stupid. To be clear. We may not actually verbally tell teens they are stupid but we older folk have no qualms treating them like they are stupid … which … uhm … is actually telling them we think they are stupid.
One of the biggest problems adults have with regard to the generation gap is … well … themselves.
Teens are not the problem in the generation gap. Shit. Young people are not the problem with any generation gap.
I do not care if we are speaking about teens, or young people in the workplace, the problem remains the same … we older folk tend to treat young people like they are stupid <but go home each night easing our minds by saying to ourselves “but I never told them they were stupid”> .
We can be clever in how we do so and sometimes we can even be fairly good at masking it … but you know what?
Young people are pretty frickin’ smart and young people are pretty frickin’ insightful and young people are pretty frickin’ aware of what is going on around them … and they can tell we think they are stupid even if the words coming out of our mouths sound something like “good idea … something we should be thinking about” <thought bubble above older person saying it says “how naïve, that’s stupid, ok, act like you actually care so they don’t think you think they are stupid …“>.
I am a little unsure of why we older people treat teenagers like they are stupid.
Do we feel it is a rite of passage that they must go thru? <like joining a fraternity or sorority?>.
Is it for self-esteem? <the more stupid we make them feel the smarter that we feel?>.
Is it out of fear? <that we will look stupid to them … or they will be smarter than us?>
Is it simply the inability to let go of the past? <”if they could only learn how and what we learned … – insert a nostalgic ‘sigh’ here …”>
All I know is that teens are not stupid.
Far from it.
As I wrote in my Beautiful Brains article the teen brain is capable of the same smart decision making as an adult … yes, as smart, it is just that their brain lining has not completely formed and therefore there is some sensory overload they have to navigate that older brains do not.
This is not stupidity.
Here is what I know.
Tearing the young down serves no real purpose. In fact … I would like to point out that building up the young can serve a real purpose.
In 1968, psychologist Robert Rosenthal walked in to a primary school class and told the teacher that he would be conducting a Harvard aptitude test on all of the students to find out which ones were bloomers or spurters (anticipating that these students were brighter and showed more potential than the rest). By the end of the year, sure enough these students went on to have not only higher grades but also did better on their IQ tests, so what was the catch?
Rosenthal later revealed that the ‘Harvard’ tests conducted were completely bogus and the children dubbed bloomers and spurters were in fact chosen at random! Because the teachers had been given the notion that these children were brighter than the rest, they ended up engaging and challenging them more often seeing their mistakes as a learning experience and setting higher goals.
This confirmed the teachers suspicion that they were in fact much brighter than the rest.
When adults expect the young to do well and show intellectual growth, inevitably young people deliver the goods. On the other hand … when adults lower expectations it inevitably provides suitable excuses for ‘less than performance and growth’ and may in fact actually discourage growth in a variety of ways. If we continue treating young people like they are stupid <which is NOT the same as telling them they are stupid> and feeding them propaganda about their stupidity and failings naturally they’re going to start believing all the crap and almost start expecting stupidity like traits.
Older people are not granted some magical power that makes them non-stupid simply because they have become older. They are not some special breed of human that has no failings and no desire to maintain some power & control.
I tell you where teens are truly not stupid.
They do not buy the whole ‘positive thinking’ being shoved down their throats. They see firsthand that positive thinking alone doesn’t get you shit and they give you shit if you try and tell them it does <and is the key to their future success>. Most teens see very quickly that positive thinking is fine in theory, but really only helpful to those with more wealth and access to a decent education. For everyone else it is empty platitudes. They don’t want platitudes they want wisdom that hlps them get where they want to go.
Teens are not stupid.
Not stupid intellectually & smarts-wise nor with regard to Life.
While we think they can only see what is in front of them in the moment they are watching the larger world swirling around them with eyes wide open. They may not be in a rush to get into this crazy looking adult world <would we adults if we looked around?> but they clearly, and smartly, are assessing the world in front of them and around them.
Let me end by saying treating teenagers like they are stupid is … well … stupid.