Youth aren’t children

Today I am a
man. Tomorrow I return
to the seventh grade.

Haikus for Jews

For the past few weeks I’ve been down with the Youth group, teaching them almost exactly the Church History curriculum I put together for their parents a few years back. Last week, we discussed matters of church and state. The week before that, the Trinity. When I mention this, people act surprised that we would touch on such weighty topics with such a young group.

I think this is absurd. In any other age, the “kids” I am teaching would have already formed their own households and be responsible for at least one child of their own by now. That we choose to infantilize them is to our shame, not theirs. It’s all the more absurd that we hold them back so long from becoming adults in the name of educating them, and then hold back the education as well because they aren’t adults. If you can’t teach them now, at the peak of their educational career, when exactly do you expect to be able to?

Jews historically considered their children to pass into adulthood at 13, becoming responsible for their own actions and sins. Jonathan Edwards entered Yale at that same age, where he had no difficulty absorbing texts like “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” High schoolers are way past those milestones. If they act like children, it is because we insist that they do so. If they are unable to handle meaty topics, it is our failure as teachers, not their insufficiency as students.

So free your kids from their playdough and safe spaces and teach them some advanced theology already. Sink their teeth into a classical education. They can handle it, if you’ll just let them.

2 thoughts on “Youth aren’t children”

  1. Hard to answer. I think I was stimulated at home, but there was a large gap that I only became aware of once I discovered the classics. Dinner table conversations and a steady supply of data from nature documentaries were certainly valuable.

    My views on public education have turned almost unrelentingly negative; I think it is almost a complete waste of time. I may use it for my children, but with a view to what it really is: daycare, with a side of brain-washing. I was good at jumping through the hoops, but I can see why other people aren’t, and I think the time could have been spent far more productively for me as well.

    I never did learn to study, but that’s never hurt me out in the real world; rote memorization is an obsolete skill. I have learned how to research, but I’m not sure I learned that at school; this may just be another side effect of assimilating a lot of classical texts.

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