” I would there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the anciently, stealing, fighting.”
This traditional view that adolescence (and part of youth) is a natural period of rebellion, thrill-seeking activities, is unfortunately deeply ingrained in the human psyche. Parents are defeated and helpless when confronted with their teenage children. Teachers entering classrooms feel like entering an arena. And more importantly youth and pre-youth feel darkness and despair because their aspirations for justice, high ideals are not finding a way of expression.
The years immediately before this age, then, take on special significance. This is the time when fundamental concepts about individual and collective life are formulated in the mind of an adolescent struggling to leave behind the habits of childhood. Youth between the ages of 12 to 15 have much to say, and whoever treats them as children misses the opportunity to help them form a proper identity.
To empower junior youth and assist them to direct their energies towards the advancement of civilization is an endeavor in which all can participate. It is not a time to “leave and let live” but a time of thoughtful guidance, of continuous dialogue and respectful consideration. It is the time to put into practice patience and compassion you’ve acquired during the long nights of sleepless caring for an infant. Being a parent/teacher is an organic process, little by little, day by day…
*(The Winter’s Tale 3.3.59-63. One of the shepherds complains of young men scaring away his sheep.)