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January 29, 2009



There probably are kids who would benefit from more order & discipline than they currently receive in school. My first thought though is that lots of them don't really want to be in school and it's a waste to make them sit through it. An idea I find plausible is that the whole notion of "adolescence" or "teenaged" is an invention of the modern era with unusual social structure and universal public education designed in part to keep the young out of the labor force. Normally rather than being in an environment full of kids and being treated like kids rather than given responsibility they would be engaged in some sort of apprenticeship among adults (typically of their own gender and ethnicity and likely more authoritarian than teachers are encouraged to be) and they would tend to emulate those adults as part of their effort to climb up to adult status. Nowadays we try to keep kids children away from adulthood against their wishes and fret over teen pregnancy, whereas marriage used to be common shortly after puberty (which actually arrives earlier now than it used to). I'm not Jewish nor do I know many people who are, but it's my distinct impression that a bar/bat mitzvah doesn't constitute the same marker of entrance to adulthood that it once did.

Hopefully Anonymous

TGGP, that's plausible.

I suspect many people, youth and adults, would have better outcomes in more paternalistic and coercive environments. I'm less confident about the relative efficiency of a society structured that way. But I suspect boot camps cost less public school seats, and that they would boost productivity, acquision of skills, and avoidance of debt arising from wasteful consumptions for many people, maybe even most people, between the agest of 16 and 25 (starting maybe as young as 10).

I'm interested in what empirical feedback already exists.

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