Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Narnia, Nylons and What's Wrong with the World

We are almost done reading the Chronicles of Narnia, and there are so many great parts that we have talked about...or I have talked to the kids about. But yesterday there was a part that I could only begin to rant discuss with the kids before their eyes glazed over. So, I saved my lecture thoughts for you (and for them when they read this in ten years).  

SPOILER ALERT: You may learn stuff about the series that you don't want to if you haven't already read it. You can always skip the quotes and go right to my rant..umm opinions. 

Nine going on thirty.

Towards the end of "The Last Battle" we meet up with all the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve that have ever been to Narnia, except one. 

Susan is missing. She is "no longer a friend of Narnia."

Why? Jill begins to explain: 
"She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."

But Lady Polly clarifies a bit: 
"Grown-up indeed," said the Lady Polly. "I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole ideas is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can."
Wow! So this infatuation with the teen years, the time that is meant to be a transition from childhood to adulthood, is nothing new. Even in C.S. Lewis time, racing to the young adult stage, and then never wanting to leave, was a problem. We just need to replace nylons with racey underwear, lipstick with tattoos, and invitations with tweets and it could be our world. 

Today we have, first of all, a name for this new (since sometime in the late 50's) stage: "Teenager." Next everything must be focused on that time in your life. Children younger than 13 were first called "pre-teens"...now they are "tweens". 

Once they have arrived at "Teenager" they have whole industries vying for their attention and telling them what they should do, wear, think, eat, say, want, etc.

We spend tons of money on their high school experience: sports, clubs, dances, the Prom, social experiences of all sorts. Forget the disappointment they will feel when they can't afford a limo and a wildly expensive dress for every special occasion in their life.

Then, they go off to college where they are still called kids (until they are 26 and FINALLY kicked off the parent's health insurance) and they get to have "the college experience" which is apparently about four years of financed play, with some learning tacked on---or at least some classes endured in the hopes that learning will happen. 

Now, apparently college graduation doesn't end this focus on the World of the Teenager. For the rest of their lives they will mourn their passing youth, recapture those good old days, shop at Forever 21, and strive for their teen-age figure. Eventually, they will learn to live vicariously through their own teenagers. 

I know...not everyone does this. But you can't deny that TV, film, radio, and fashion all conspire to convince us that TEENAGER is where it's at. 

This is why I am all in favor of abolishing the high school. I say, give them internships and then let them spend their spare time studying what they need to know to get into a university (though I could make an argument against the university too---at least most of them). 

And I am only being slightly humorous here. Let's face it, when it comes to my opinions on education I am counter-culture even to those who are already considered counter cultural. 

For more insight into my radical opinions, read Anthony Esolen, wherever he may be found.

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