Final Lecture for Adolescence in the Family Context

I. Recapitulation

In this course, we have attempted to cover the biology, sociology, psychology, and cognitive development of children as they move through the period known as adolescence.

The course had a decidedly American cultural view, although it is my guess that parents worldwide sit and wonder where the craziness in their children came from.

In 1948, the term "teenager" first appeared in life magazine. After World War II teenagers became a bonified social grouping, with their own values, attitudes, and social behaviors. Since that time, we've seen the Grateful Dead come and go, gasoline went from a nickle a gallon to over a dollar, crack cocaine was invented, and the family television set evolved from a fuzzy ten inch picture to wide screen, cable ready, home entertainment center. By the way, have you heard Bob Dylan's kid's band, the Wallflowers?

Millions of high school seniors enjoyed their last year as top hands before entering either work or college. Millions of confessions of love were made, and an equal number of hearts were broken.

Early in the century G. Stanley Hall introduced the debatable, but highly intuitive notion of adolescence as a period of storm and stress (Sturm und Drang) where thoughts and feelings and actions oscillate between conceit and humility, goodness and temptation, happiness and sadness, kindness and cruelty. G. Stanley might have been wrong about a lot of issues, but he was definitely reading my mail. So, G. Stanley, the question I have for you is "when do the inconsistencies end?"

II. The Nature of Development Revisited

There is so much we could do to change the environment in which children develop for the better. The phyisical world is a mess and could use a good cleaning, so think green!

We are just beginning to understand the difference between which gender differences deserve celebrity and which ones have been myths all along. Truth is, of all the things a penis is good for, a criterion for job placement isn't one of them.

And cultural differences? Hispanic culture is more than graffitti art and tejano music. Each of our subcultures is the result of thousands of years of wisdom and should be celebrated! Let's put an end to talk (and making policy based on hate) about those people. We already know this is a good idea from the movies (Gentlemen's Agreement, Zorba the Greek, Sounder).

The issue underlying racism is really poverty and competition for a bigger slice of the pie.

III. The Future is Now

There are many forces competiting for our attention, and most of them don't amount to a hill of beans.

Did O.J. get away with murder, or was he a victim of prejudice?

My guess is this is the wrong kind question to ask. The right one might be along the lines of ...

What's this got to do with anything important.

If we don't ask this question often, things won't change for the better.
You know what the right answers are, so get busy..


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