World news and the everyday teenager

There wasn’t any conversation to speak of on the drive to school today, so I turned on the news. From the back a teen immediately interjected “Is that completely necessary?”

I muted the sound and turned around, completely incredulous. “What?”

“Is that completely necessary?” she repeated without a hint of what I hoped to have been mischievous insolence.

“Not really.” Is all I could muster as I turned the volume back up and refocused my attention. I can’t say that listening to corporate propaganda is necessary, or even a good idea. But I am at an equal loss for how else to stay tuned to what’s happening around us. It’s a good thing my honest ambivalence tripped up the teaching moment I might have offered.

There are probably far too many ways to get entangled in current affairs, but for children with school, sports, video games, television, play, music and the odd meal, there is no break for non-academic reality. One might argue that kids could be spared the complications of the world outside. I can hardly see the merit to that school of unthought. Especially as domestic politics have certainly invaded their education, the piss-poor vocational experience few are willing to admit that American schools have become.

This drive-time comment came after an evening spent not being forced to attend a journalist’s lecture last night. It was off-putting enough to have to wait in the atrium apparently. Although, as dense as the economic principles might have been, I sorely regretted that all of the kids, especially the girls, had not witnessed Naomi Klein, about as apt a role model as any young woman could dream.

So what if much would be above their head? Won’t they grow into it? Are there realities too shocking for children? Shouldn’t our challenge be to address those horrors, sooner than shield ourselves by pretending they do not exist? What a luxury that our children have even the choice to know how they are impacted.

It’s one thing to expose kids to pictures of highway accidents, or television programs about serial killers, quite another in my opinion to complicate their understanding of societal malevolence. Can they not gleam from parental example that such obstacles do not render life hopeless? We cope. We blot out certain realities to pamper our own delusions. Is that a difficulty level beyond young people?

There’s no doubt a fine line about forcing experiences on children, the morning news for example, but isn’t that to pretend that almost all their indoctrination isn’t involuntary? Can you think of any accomplished person who wasn’t pushed?

We can be thankful our children aren’t experiencing household raids, aerial bombings, and marketplace bombers which take the lives of their friends and relatives. How sheltered do children need to be? Even if their Social Studies will eventually teach them Zinn or Chomsky, aren’t the lessons sabotaged by the context of isolation? How are children really to learn that they aren’t working in factories but for blood spilled by labor unions; that their grandparents aren’t destitute or dead owing to collective efforts which demanded more from their government? Pop culture has already lulled kids to the politics of nothing matters. Is there any wrong time to try to right that lie? Or do YOU believe that individuals have no power to participate in the global community?

2 thoughts on “World news and the everyday teenager

  1. ‘Although, as dense as the economic principles might have been, I sorely regretted that all of the kids, especially the girls, had not witnessed Naomi Klein, about as apt a role model as any young woman could dream.’

    I don’t think so, Eric. Naomi Klein, in my opinion, is not much more than the typical academic type and corporate media propagandist for liberalism and not all that much of a role model at all. As you know, I let my kid leave the auditorium and actually had tried to discourage her from going to the event in the first place. Neither one of us was that much impresssed with Klein’s talk, and I probably would have left myself if the mikes had not been practically blocking the escape routes.

    Naomi Klein is currently a big hit amongst many Left leaning liberals but that has more to say about them than it does with any real great contribution Klein has made with her famous book. All that being said, it is hardly imaginable that teenagers or smaller kids can have gotten anything more than tedium out of an event that seemed to be attended principally by people 40 and older.

  2. I disagree that all accomplished people are pushed. My older brilliant and very accomplished brother is a good example of a child who was allowed to blossom on his own terms with nothing but love and acceptance nudging him along.

    I agree that to expose children to new information and global realities is a necessary and good thing for their development. But to foist adult lectures on them as a means of edification not only does not edify, it can build a wall of resentment that not only closes us out, it locks them in.

    That said, I don’t like disrespectful communication amongst my people. Perhaps the teen in question can do without “the odd meal” tonight.

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