Childish Mistakes

Steven Den Beste has a good post about the all-too-common mistake of trying to assert independence by opposing the position of authorities, whatever that position may be.

What I didn’t like about it was the tone set by his first sentence:

It’s a pretty standard failing of the young to assume that disagreement is a demonstration of independence.

We hear this kind of thing a lot. It seems to be commonly-held notion that young people suffer from some kind of natural stupidity that leads to many errors that they eventually grow out of.

While it’s true that young people make a lot of mistakes, it’s not because of stupidity, or hormones, or anything like that. It’s because they are thinking. They’re playing with new ideas and often getting them wrong before they figure out how to improve (or reject) them.

Is it fair to say: “It’s a pretty standard failing of the young to fall off of bicycles.”? Of course they fall off bicycles more than adults do. But, it’s because they’re more likely to be learning how to ride, not because they suffer from poor coordination!

If I had to make a generalization about the thinking of young people vs. older people, I’d have to say that I think young people do it better. For example, I suggest that it’s more likely that a fifteen-year-old will correct the error that Den Beste describes than that a thirty-year-old who makes that mistake will correct it.

I’m not claiming that Den Beste thinks that young people are stupid. His post just reminded me that many people do.

And that they’re wrong.


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