RSS

Tag Archives: teenager

Mind The Gap

As the college visit tours wind down and collected brochures, flashdrives, t-shirts are filed, many family’s thoughts turn towards next steps.  Never before have so many high school seniors had so many choices.  For all our national bemoaning of the flaws of higher education, we have in fact an embarrassment of riches.  I have no doubt that the majority of ambitious and motivated teens will find themselves just where they need to be.

But what of those teens who may not have much support, and/or exposure to a world larger than their own?  Across this country there are teens; in foster care, in chaotic homes, in shelters, in insular communities and in survival mode.  What’s to become of them?  Four centuries of public education in this country, speaks to a collective consensus that educating our society is a good idea.  Most of us would agree that a high school degree is not what it used to be (either in substance or in currency.)  And despite the plethora of college choices and amounts of students attending, it is still its own unique experience.  Being a college student is actually quite different from being a high school student.  The choices alone are mind boggling.  What school?  What major?  Where to live?  How to pay?

As daunting as these choices are to many, they are a luxury that teens in survival mode rarely have.  We have all heard or seen stories of the teacher, case manager, caring adult, who intervenes and changes a teenager’s life.  It happens, it does.  But the reason these stories make for (potentially) compelling television or film, is their rarity.  We do not have a national systemic approach to caring/mentoring/guiding teenagers post-high school.

So what if we instituted a national mentoring system?  Adults could volunteer to be trained and then serve as mentors.  The “corps” would be comprised of; financial advisers, education experts, life-skill advisers, counselors.  (I picture a “peace corps” experience for retirees.)  Identifying at-risk teenagers is a bit more challenging.  Certainly high schools would be a good place to start.  Like anything, the earlier we catch the problem, the better.  But mimicking our military should not be ruled out.  Clearly we already have a national program that has mastered outreach to a segment of our young population.

Politics aside, we really can’t afford to have any ‘child left behind.’  For every teen who ages out of our current support system, there is potentially one less adult contributing.  The waste of human potential and the implied economic toil should not be acceptable.  Most health insurance policies now cover dependent children until age 26.  What I propose is not that much different and potentially much more impactful. Done in a thoughtful manner, this “gap” program would draw attention to inequities and systemically combat them.  It might not be the sexiest of administrative programs, but I believe it could change our world.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Education

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hello Gorgeous!

Rumor has it that October 19th is Love Your Body Day.  (Note: I would do some fact checking before assuming opposite side of the street parking has been suspended.)  While I’m not sure that schools and banks should close, I do applaud the occasion.  From what I read, see and hear (mostly by way of eavesdropping) this day is called for.  From tweens to seniors, there is a great deal of self war being waged.  We all have an off day, but there is something tragic about hating yourself every day.

I am a woman from a western culture, I am not impervious to the internalized merciless critic.  However, a couple of adult decades under my belt has pretty much muted that little voice.  Has my body gotten better with age?  I doubt it (if so, I could probably sell myself to science!)  To be utterly reductive, I think I’ve (finally) stopped comparing myself to avatars.

As soon as I was allowed, I became a devotee of ‘Teen magazine.  I poured over that magazine, not for fashion pointers, but for role models.  Like a Talmudic scholar, I wore those pages out trying to decipher the secrets.  Coming to adolescence with the zealot belief that life would be like an MGM musical, I desperately wanted to look the part.  ‘Teen magazine promised to be the most instructive.  I was self aware enough to know that Charlie’s Angels, and even Julie, the cruise director, were out of my reach.  But perhaps the fashion models, only a few years older than I, would hold the key.  The fifteen year old me, with a thin layer of baby fat, studied those photo-spreads like nobody’s business. I also, unfortunately, compared myself mercilessly to their perceived perfection.

I still find fashion magazines potentially instructive.  I now, however, understand the wonders of lighting, styling, airbrushing and photo-shopping.  (Hopefully, today’s young teens are much more media savvy than they used to be!)  All this is to say, that the first step to honoring “Love Your Body Day” is to stop comparing it to fiction.  The second step, is to stop comparing it to others.

“Others” being a version of your younger self, or the gal sitting next to you.  As far as the ravages of gravity and/or aging go, let me be the first to point out that you are never going to be as young as you are right now.  Don’t waste another moment bemoaning the fall of your bum.  Buy better pants if necessary.  (Truly, the virtue of good undergarments can not be stressed enough.)  And about that “perfect” gal sitting across from you?  She feels fat.

No one sees our perceived imperfections, they are far too interested in their own.  Whatever our shortcomings, we’re here aren’t we?  Isn’t that everything?  Life is too short to not treat everyday like a potential MGM musical.  Now as far as those off-days?  Change your inner critic’s voice to that of Irving Berlin’s: “Never saw you look quite so pretty before.*”

* Easter Parade

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Style, Well-Being

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,897 other followers