This page is intended only to point out this dangerous trend, and to suggest that there is sufficient evidence that it shouldn't be this way. By implication, of course, I am suggesting that the trend should be reversed and that children and adolescents should be given earlier preparation for their role as adults, more autonomy as they grow and earn it, and much more respect for their capabilities.
Examples of children and adolescents exhibiting very sophisticated behavior are everywhere in society. Many child actors are capable of inhabiting characters and moving audiences to laughter, tears and terror.
(I have to say, unfortunately, that while I've noticed a lot of media coverage of child prodigies who enter college at early ages, I rarely see or can find follow-up stories about their later careers. It makes me wonder whether they actually succeed in general, or whether their transition into actual adulthood becomes too difficult for them. The later, tragic careers and lives of many child actors in television and movies are well known, and more common than anyone would like. The point, however, is that the society blesses and celebrates early achievement in so many areas, yet still delays entry into full adulthood -- full "personhood" in effect -- for the vast majority of children.)
There is an organisation which acknowledges and supports "early achievers" of the sort I'm talking about here. The organisation refers to such individuals as YEGS - "Young Exceptionally Gifted Students", and their Web site at yegs.org/ maintains a YEGS Hall of Fame, with photographs and biographies of many such contemporary (XXth century) people.
I've decided that my small contribution to the knowledge base of demonstrated competence in childhood will be to develop a list of musical compositions that famous composers produced before their 14th birthday.
Besides the incontrovertible evidence that children sometimes can be competent and creative at levels that rival any adult's work, this list begs the question of whether these composers would have succeeded in later life if they had been forced to wait until their 20s to begin their creative output. It also makes the case, I believe, that delayed recognition of children's competence as functioning human beings is a trend that needs seriously to be reconsidered.
This page, like others at this site, will develop over time. Thoughtful comments are welcome. Hate mail will be cursed in an actual prayer then ignored like garbage in the street. Please visit again.
© Gerald Jones, Ph.D. [firstname.lastname@example.org]