I don’t know about you - but I have heard more references to the demise of individual freedoms over the past eight weeks than any other time in my adult life. The snarky voice who occasionally lives inside my head (Well, to be honest, I should probably admit, at this point, she has taken up permanent residence.) would like to say (really loudly), "You need to understand that individual liberty coexists alongside personal responsibility. And, as a contributing member of society, you may be called upon, at times, to sacrifice a bit of freedom for the good of us all."
In response to some of the cries and (armed) protests about lost freedom, the following meme was created and circulated through social media: "Freedom, without responsibility, is adolescence." I read that and immediately got angry. I believe the meme should: "If you want freedom, without responsibility, you are a hypocritical jerk (read - asshole)."
Why do we, as a culture, denigrate teens? To be fair, most folks who shared that particular meme probably didn’t consider, or, even recognize, the negative connotations. This attitude is so ingrained that when I looked up the word "responsibility" in the Apple thesaurus, I found this example sentence: "Teenagers may not be showing enough sense of responsibility to be safely granted privileges." Seeing this, pissed me off even more.
The adolescents I know have a better sense of dependability, wisdom, and trustworthiness than some adults. They spend time thinking about how they can benefit their community. They are empathetic and kind. And, they worry about the future - not only their own - but the fate of society at large. Believe me, these teens recognize that they are looked upon as immature, inconsiderate, and lazy louts who prefer video games and virtual experiences rather than reality. And, then, they agonize over every decision they make, even though, on a fundamental level, they understand that no matter what they do, they won't be able to change our perception of them.
Beyond the negative overtone of the above-mentioned meme, it is, plainly, false. Most adolescents do not experience freedom, simply because adults do not trust them. Teens are, inextricably, tied to all of the (disproportionate, unrealistic, and inhibiting) expectations adults have for them.
For this very reason, those of us who work in the SDE (Self-Directed Education) field, see many kids struggle with the freedom and trust that we, automatically, offer them. First, they are, visibly, confused, then, the questions begin to flow: "What should I do now?" "But, does this count?" "How will I prove I learned something if I don't take a test?" "This is cheating the system - isn't it?" "How will I ever figure out what I am interested in?"
For some, the feelings of unease are so overwhelming that they return to the comforting confines of the known. Others, eventually, come to understand that the initial awkwardness of taking personal responsibility is the price of admission for authentic freedom of choice. These are the kids who have discovered that they are in charge of their lives, as well as their happiness.
You will find two new virtual cooking classes - easy mac & cheese and a three-part bread baking tutorial below and on the DRC Vlog page.
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