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The Vanishing American Adult: Our…
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The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--and How to Rebuild… (vuoden 2017 painos)

– tekijä: Ben Sasse (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
3141662,820 (3.61)1
America's youth are in crisis. Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by misbegotten government programs, they are ill-equipped to survive in our highly-competitive global economy. Many of the definitive coming-of-age rituals: learning the value of working, leaving home, becoming economically self-reliant--are being delayed or skipped altogether. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse sees an existential threat to the American way of life. In The Vanishing American Adult, Sasse diagnoses the causes of a generation that can't grow up and offers a path for raising children to become active and engaged citizens. He identifies core formative experiences that all young people should pursue: hard work to appreciate the benefits of labor, travel to understand deprivation and want, the power of reading, the importance of nurturing your body--and explains how parents can encourage them.Our democracy depends on responsible, contributing adults to function properly--without them America falls prey to populist demagogues.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:NathanDicks
Teoksen nimi:The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance
Kirjailijat:Ben Sasse (Tekijä)
Info:St. Martin's Press (2017), 320 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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The Vanishing American Adult (tekijä: Benjamin E. Sasse)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 16) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This was a generally well researched and written book. I didn’t agree with the author in many of his conclusions but the path that he took to reach them was clear. And despite his prominent position as a Republican Senator, he avoids proscribing solutions based on political grounds. ( )
  jugglebird | Feb 18, 2021 |
LibraryThing The Vanishing American Adult, Ben Sasse, St. Martin’s Press New York, 2017, dates I read/studied book 11/30/-12/27/20, recommended by [Al Mohler’s “Thinking in Public” 5/23/17 interview], Where is hard copy? Probably will end up in BCSA library in education section

Theme: helping young people mature and our preserving America
Type: social critique and inspirational
Value: 1-
Age: adult
Interest: 1- (for those interested)
Objectionable: refers to immoral rockers as though we consume them (Springsteen, Mellencamp)
Synopsis/Noteworthy: Sasse wants to keep focus on how to help young to mature versus bemoaning the “good old days” (Ecc 7:10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.); later chapters end with “what to do” lists
Subtitle: our coming-of-age crisis—and how to build a culture of self-reliance

Introduction: My Kids “Need” Air Conditioning
(2) Our kids simply don’t know what an adult is anymore—or how to become one. Many don’t see a reason even to try. Perhaps more problematic, the older generations have forgotten that we need to plan to teach them. It’s our fault more than theirs.
(4) Oddly, while the kids know and admit that they are much happier doing other things—playing with friends, throwing a baseball, taking a hike, accomplishing something tangible—they can’t find the initiative to get started on these activities on their own. They will do these other things, but only when their parents take the lead in arranging them.
(8-10) Generally, our approach to helping them transition from dependence to self-sustaining adulthood—detailed in the latter 2/3 of this book—is organized around the following five broad themes:
(1) Overcome peer culture and wrestle with other life stages, chapter 4 (FLEE AGE SEGREGREGATION).
(2) Work hard, chapter 5 (EMBRACE WORK PAIN). Almost everyone interesting I’ve ever met has a substantive and passionate answer to the question: “What was the first really hard work you did as a kid?” Bizarrely, our culture is now trying to protect kids from similar heart experiences. We should be running in exactly the opposite direction; we should be figuring out how to help build them a menu of really hard tasks to tackle.
(3) Resist consumption, chapter 6 (CONSUME LESS). Meaningful work—that actually serves and benefits a neighbor, thereby making a real difference in the world—contributes to long-term happiness and well-being. Consumption just consumes.
(4) Travel to experience the difference between “need” and “want,” chapter 7 (TRAVEL TO SEE).
(5) Become truly literate, chapter 8 (BUILD A BOOKSHELF). So let’s build some reading lists of books you plan to wrestle with and be shaped by for the rest of your life. 8-10

PART I
OUR PASSIVITY PROBLEM
One Stranded in Neverland 13 [deteriorated culture—inability to handle prosperity]
(17) It’s not that Americans don’t have coming-of-age rituals, but rather that those rituals have become more automatic, and less purposeful, than achievement-based rituals. Our principal hurdles involve uncomplicated things, like taking pictures before prom or learning to pause the appropriate length of time before walking out to receive a high school diploma—which is granted to virtually everyone who doesn’t quit school.
(18) How did we get to this point—where a large portion of our people in the prime of their lives are stuck in a sad sort of limbo, ordering pizza on cell phones while streaming Netflix from their parents’ basements, where they live? [Five items listed]
(26-27) School is obviously an important tool—for intentionally exposing kids to an entire range of content in subjects, for adding structure to days that can become Jell-O, for being the context in which socialization with peers and with authorities beyond your family occurs—but it is still a tool. It is only one of many tools. And it is most fundamentally a tool in the service of parents and grandparents and neighbors and local communities. … Great teachers don’t try to be the exclusive center of life, but rather instrumental servants of a larger life. Great school administrators know and honor the limits of their institution; they don’t try to displace families in the deeper and wider institutions of life that are based on love.
(27) I have no interest in my children being formed by the zeitgeist, by the majoritarian sentiments of any particular moment, by what Dewey celebrated as an abstract “social consciousness of the race.” Instead, I want my children to be formed by ideals and principles that are definable and debatable—by me and by them—even if such ideals and principles are not always in vogue. I want my children to be introduced to the enduring debates between Augustine and Rousseau, not to have these debates hidden from them, as Dewey seeks to do.
(27) Rousseau would differ from many of the tentative conclusions in our household—but he’s big, and thus he’s worthy of debating. He’s not making a total claim of ownership on my kids without any existential acknowledgment that they are my kids—which is basically the claim on them that Dewey is making.
Two From Little Citizens to Baby Einsteins 31
Three More School Isn’t Enough 57
(76) I take issue with the notion that young adults are incapable of making choices or acting independently. It is clearly true that they aren’t very good at it, but that is because we failed to help them learn how to seize the reins and do it themselves much earlier—in primary and middle school—and doesn’t mean that we should still be choosing and acting for them after high school.
(76) They fail to acknowledge the Socratic insight that at a certain age, learning cannot be force-fed; it needs to come in response to genuinely asked questions by genuinely curious people. Experts can’t educate your kids until the kids have the desire to be educated.
(77) Too much formalized schooling inevitably crowds out communities of the heart and soul, voluntarism, flexibility and choice, cross-cultural experience, exertion, success and failure, and time—essentially everything for becoming a fully formed adult, and empathetic citizen, and a worker-learner flexible enough to navigate the accelerated pace of job expiration and change in the new economy.
(80) This age “specializes in being misunderstood; it is restless and tries to achieve independence; and,
with good luck and good guidance, it should show the beginnings of creativeness; a reaching out towards
a synthesis of what it already knows, and a deliberate eagerness to know and do some one thing in preference to all others.” If we are going to parent with the grain during this adolescent-poetic stage, we had better first grasp that there is indeed a budding romantic in there trying to define his or her own identity.
(81) If there is a patron saint of the educational philosophy underpinning this book, it is Sayers. She yearned for a great education for all, but she knew that such a dream could be realized only once children were individually and personally engaged. If this book ever sounds critical of schoolteachers, then I’m probably not arguing very effectively—because the intended argument is against the mindless assumption made by too many of the rest of us that schools and their teachers can awaken all of our kids alone inside just one institutional form. Rather, all of us need to be more engaged at helping spark these awakenings. Sayers knew that teens themselves must come to realize that both cultures and vibrant individuals “cannot live on capital forever.” If a free people is going to be reproduced, it will require watering and revivifying and owning anew older traditions, and awakening the curiosity in the soul of each citizen.
(85) Teenagers need help. Growing up is actual, hard work. I would venture to guess that most of our teens don’t need more therapy or more antidepressants. They need direction about how to acquire the habits essential for navigating adulthood, and experiences that introduce and instill those habits.
(85) FIVE CHARACTER-BUILDING HABITS
Go to war. Learn the value of hard work. Go on the big hunt. Take on a bully. Leave home. Prepare to give birth. Experience subsistence. Comfort someone struggling at the door of death. Build something large.
(85) For the remainder of this book, I will focus on five uses of a teen’s time—five habits to cultivate—to transition from childhood to adulthood. There are dozens of other experiences and habits we could unpack here, but let’s focus on these five because each of them is at least as important as schooling.
(86) First, discover the body—its potential and its frailty, and the many diverse stages of life that lie ahead—by breaking free of the tyranny of one generation. . . . Second, develop a work ethic. . . . Third, embrace limited consumption. . . . Fourth, learn how to travel and to travel light. . . . Fifth, learn how to read and decide what to read. But there is a difference between learning how to read and how to read well. Your kids need to become obsessed with the habit of reading; they need an appetite.

PART II
AN ACTIVE PROGRAM
Four Flee Age Segregation 89
(90) But this chapter will focus on the second cultural practice that would shock our seventeenth-century visitors: As work left the home, it became more sterile and our ever-wealthier households much less inter-generational—and our children’s entire lives drifted into age-segregated ghettos. As young and old became separated from work, young and old became separated from workers and from each other. Young people now spend the majority of their waking hours in and around schools and, thus, mainly with people their own age.
(112) If you’re alive, then boredom is impossible. It’s practically a sin. Melissa and I do not allow our children to be bored. The phrase “I’m bored” is forbidden from passing through their lips. I personally can’t conceive of being bored.
(116) Help them see the value of authority figures beside parents.
(117) Model gratitude. Thank people for their work all the time. Go out of your way to do it—go back to stores where you got great service just to say thanks again. They’ll absorb and begin to emulate your mature kindness.

Five Embrace Work Pain 119
(124) Dispiritingly, students overwhelmingly highlighted their desire for freedom from responsibilities. The activities they most enjoyed, they reported, were sleeping in, skipping class, and partying.
(132) It is dangerous to begin believing that the loving act is to insulate our offspring from work rather than planning for the bumpy and unglamorous tasks of teaching them how to work hard.
(133) Teddy Roosevelt exhorted railroad workers in Chattanooga: “Your work is hard. Do you suppose I mention that because I pity you? No; not a bit.” For in work there is meaning. “I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him,” for he is becoming something.
(134) None of this focus on work in the American tradition rejects the seriousness of needing balance in life. Rather, it reflects an awareness that balance ultimately comes from understanding the moral priority of neighbor-benefiting productive activities in the rhythm of a day and a week. Let’s hope that, over time, we’ll develop a bias, when we have an extra free hour, toward shoveling snow from the elderly neighbor lady’s sidewalk over streaming another Netflix sitcom.
(136) Why do I ask these things? Two reasons: First, I’ve never met an interesting American who lacks an interesting and at least partially reflective answer to the question of how and when and where they learned a work ethic. Second, happily, many people quickly reveal their understanding that work is not narrowly about a job—about assignments that come with paychecks—but more fundamentally that we are built to be creators. Our work and our lives are an answer, an active response, to a calling.
(139) Worried about the erosion of a shared sense in our culture of what hard work looks like, in March 2016 we sent our daughter Corrie to spend a month working on a cattle ranch in Holt County, about four hours northwest of where we live. She was 14 at the time and surprisingly eager to get her hands dirty.
(139) Short of going off the grid entirely and retreating to a cabin in the wilderness, there is no way to protect your kids completely from the rot of celebrity-driven popular culture, secularism, consumerism, hypersexuality—you name it. So much of modern American life seems to be about finding more efficient ways of shirking responsibilities.
(140) We hear Teddy Roosevelt’s admonition ringing in our ears—and we want them to hear it ringing in theirs: “Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”
(140) We think it’s important for our kids to learn how to suffer. Some might hear that phrase as unloving but it is actually the opposite.
(145-6) But that focus on long-term health is precisely why a decision to shield our daughter from work—instead of intentionally introducing her into work—would be such a foolish decision. My wife and I hadn’t thought for a moment that we might be running afoul of any Department of Labor edicts and mandates—nor had the ranchers or their grown children who have worked with cattle for decades. But upon further digging, it turns out that some existing state and federal laws make it very difficult for teens to develop good work habits and the beginner skills needed in the marketplace. In effect, the laws exist to do everything possible to prevent 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds from working, whether it’s limiting shifts to four hours or capping a teen’s work week at three nonconsecutive days.
(147) STEPPING STONES TO IDENTITIES AS LITTLE WORKERS [a list of activities]

Six Consume Less 151
(169) Epictetus, an emancipated slave, wrote in his famous Enchiridion (a Latin word for “handbook”), “Some things are under our control, while others are not under our control.”
(172) In another lesson, Jean-Jacques teaches Emile to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. “It is important in the first instance to get used to being ill bedded,” Rousseau writes. “This is the way never again to find an uncomfortable bed. In general, the hard life, once turned into habit, multiplies agreeable sensations; the soft life prepares for an infinity of unpleasant ones.” If a child is tough, and his consumption expectations are intentionally chosen and constrained rather than expanded, his or her denominator of expectations is easy to satisfy: “People raised too delicately no longer find sleep elsewhere than on down; people accustomed to sleep on boards find it everywhere.”

Seven Travel to See 177
(181) Gibbon’s response offers a helpful start on the habits of the good explorer: He should be endowed with an active, indefatigable vigor of mind and body, which can seize every mode of conveyance, and support with a careless smile every hardship of the road, the weather or the inn. It must stimulate him with a restless curiosity, impatient of ease, covetous of time and fearless of danger; which drives him forth at any hour of the day or night, to brave the flood, climb the mountain, or to fathom the mine, on the most doubtful promise of entertainment or instruction . . . I have reserved for the last a virtue which borders on a vice: the flexible temper which can assimilate itself to every tone of society, from the court to the cottage; the happy flow of spirits which can amuse and be amused in every company and situation.
(183) We mean something different here. The key distinction here [between travel and tourism] is between active seeking and venturing and learning on the one hand, and passively taking in the sights on the other hand. . . . Boorstin explained that the traveler is fundamentally “active; he is strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience.”
(183) By contrast, “the tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him.”
(184) And then, force them to help plan, to make decisions, to reflect and summarize, to discover. If your children embark on a trip without any idea of where they’re going, without having played any role in deciding what to visit, or if they return from a trip and immediately return to their devices and routines without actively reflecting on their experience, we will have sacrificed an opportunity for them to grow.
(184) C.S. Lewis’s go-to description of a sheltered life and an impoverished future is “an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”
[(190) . . . [Historian] Vincent Scully, give similar lectures for a semester. Their approaches are very different, so I recommend reading at least one book by each of them.)
(203) Like much of what I discuss in this book, teaching your kids the right way to do something will require some effort. If you really want your kids to become explorers, to experience the growth that traveling can bring, you have to (1) encourage them to travel alone, even if it means having to overcome your own fears against the consumerist grain.
(205) STEPPING STONES TO AWAKEN TRAVEL APPETITES [more practical ideas]

Eight Build a Bookshelf 207
(207) “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.” Margaret Thatcher
(207) America is a different kind of place. It was founded deliberately, by people with strong ideas about heaven and hell, about rights and responsibilities, about public and private—and about the kind of society that would promote virtuous living and serious thinking.
(208) The men and women who founded our nation did so by riding the wave of the print revolution. Their moment was historically unprecedented, and our failure to remember this neglects the related truth that what we read, or don’t read, still drives not only what we believe but also how we engage with each other and how we make decisions about our future.
(208) America’s future depends on the kind of thinking that reading presupposes and nourishes—and such thinking demands a rebirth of reading.
(209) “…What books do you want your kids to have read by the time they leave home?”
(209) And so we direct and encourage them: to build their own long-term reading list, to persuade others to read their favorites, to be humble and curious in accepting the recommendations of others, and to actively adjust their list as they wrestle with and learn from others. This process we’ve created is not the same as claiming that they can develop one fixed canon of what to read that is right for everyone, but rather that they should have an evolving list of their own that they will use in prioritizing their reading of fifty or sixty key books. The primary goal is premised on the idea that there are only so many hours in a day. This makes it essential that they become stewards of their limited time as they fall in love with reading particular books.
(210) Becoming truly literate is a choice. Reading done well is not a passive activity like sitting in front of a screen. It requires a degree of attention, engagement, and active questioning of which most of our children currently have a deficit.
(210) The relentless pull of the digital world, with its demands that our kids submit to the shiny and the immediate, threatens to make them not just less literate but also more like subjects than citizens. At our house we challenge ourselves to read for sixty minutes without looking at smartphones, televisions, or computers.
(212) The debut of this historically unique tool in 1454 [invention of the printing press], in the words of one scholar, “heralded nothing less than a bloodless revolution.
(212) In arguably the most radical leveling event in history, the poor suddenly became near equals of the rich in terms of access to information.
(216) A rudimentary distinction between “false” or “bad” ideas on the one hand and “illegal” ideas on the other began to bud. It wasn’t until the mid-seventeenth century that writers began making a case for religious and press freedom, noting that ideas cannot be extinguished by force; ideas can be controversial, the marketplace of ideas had been born, and the most influential thinkers almost inevitably became marketers.
(216) The north star of the American idea is the First Amendment, where freedom of religion, assembly, press, speech, and protest embody our core sense of liberty and how to protect it. All five of these freedoms flow from Gutenberg’s revolution and the culture of competing presses it fostered.
(227) I thus resolved not to let bookcase after bookcase of the rarely opened volumes sit indistinguishably in our home office and living room—but rather that our kids should be able to perceive by our habits that there is one special bookshelf of more life-changing works to which we return again and again. . . . but we have also passively let the potential for reading quantity undermine the habit of repeatedly reading quality—of returning again and again to a small number of important texts until they are shaping our family’s shared grammar and vocabulary.
(227) The path to finding overlap is for individual families and neighborhoods and religious groups to first be reading and knowing and loving their own traditions—and then to also be wanting to listen to and learn from other families and neighborhoods and groups.
(238) Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, Brave New World, in which people are kept passive and “happy” by limitless drugs and sex provided by the state.

Nine Make America an Idea Again 245
(247) We are likely safe to assume that people who can’t identify the branches of government are probably equally hard-pressed to explain the roles of the different branches.
(253) But these five rights are all listed as the “First” Amendment because you can’t unbundle this cluster.
(254) Any American who hasn’t read Democracy in America should. It’s been called both “the best book ever written on America.”
(256) Or to borrow from Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution is the silver frame, and our free society—the free coming together of people pursuing happiness—is the apple of gold.
(256) We all have plural identities. I’m an American, I’m also a Nebraskan. I’m a football addict and the sone of a football coach. I’m a husband, and a dad, and a Christian. I’m a conservative, and a Republican, and a public official.
(256) But the ordering of some of these loyalties matters. It would be absurd to put any particular job ahead of my family commitments. Similarly, I hope that all Americans regard their national commitments as more important than party allegiances. . . .
(257) Reagan said: “It must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

Postscript Why This Wasn’t a Policy Book 259
(262) Sal is arguably the most important math teacher in the history of the world, full stop. Yet he is not a teacher in any traditional, school-based sense. And math wasn’t really his thing. He was just an uncle trying to help a niece, and he sat at a technological moment. Necessity is the mother of invention.
(263) We need to be able to say to our young people—and to have it be true—that they are not liabilities to be managed but assets to be developed. We need to stop warehousing our teens. We need to be able to tell them that they are important, to be able to say to them: “You’re needed.” That requires people who know them and have a feel for their history and their future. In short, it requires love. And love is beyond the competence of governmental policy-making.

Afterword If Teddy Roosevelt Spoke to a High School Graduating Class 265
  keithhamblen | Dec 27, 2020 |
Not even wrong. Basically, according to the author: USA is super special, unlike any other planet in the universe, 60s did not in fact happen and if you don't homeschool your children you are worse than Hitler and also an absolute pleb who lets your child be taught together with the rest of the common scum. Also, all millennials are total pussies. All because we've turned away from god.

At one point I was wondering whether it's some clever satire. ( )
  TeaTimeCoder | Dec 23, 2020 |
Ben Sasse and I have very different politics, but I agree with him that was must expose ourselves to more than our own side. I started this book in search of perspective and maybe commonality. The the first tenth of the book, I was so hopeful: while we didn't agree on the solutions, we seemed to agree on the problems... And that is miraculous!

But his writing style did me in far sooner than any politics. This whole thing appears to be a series of (not-so-) personal essays, rather than a coherent whole. In the first third of the book (as far as I could manage) even then he seemed to be talking in circles, in concepts if not literal stories. However, what really drove me batty was a lack of references, leaving me always questioning the accuracy of his interpretation or at a loss if I genuinely wanted more information. In the end, I couldn't take his not-as-structured as he thinks book, nor trust what he was presenting. I guess I am just the wrong generation if I think he should back up some of his statements.

Mostly, I feel this should have just been a shorter series of op-eds, or fodder for his blog. ( )
  OptimisticCautiously | Sep 16, 2020 |
Ben Sasse and I have very different politics, but I agree with him that was must expose ourselves to more than our own side. I started this book in search of perspective and maybe commonality. The the first tenth of the book, I was so hopeful: while we didn't agree on the solutions, we seemed to agree on the problems... And that is miraculous!

But his writing style did me in far sooner than any politics. This whole thing appears to be a series of (not-so-) personal essays, rather than a coherent whole. In the first third of the book (as far as I could manage) even then he seemed to be talking in circles, in concepts if not literal stories. However, what really drove me batty was a lack of references, leaving me always questioning the accuracy of his interpretation or at a loss if I genuinely wanted more information. In the end, I couldn't take his not-as-structured as he thinks book, nor trust what he was presenting. I guess I am just the wrong generation if I think he should back up some of his statements.

Mostly, I feel this should have just been a shorter series of op-eds, or fodder for his blog. ( )
  OptimisticCautiously | Sep 16, 2020 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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America's youth are in crisis. Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by misbegotten government programs, they are ill-equipped to survive in our highly-competitive global economy. Many of the definitive coming-of-age rituals: learning the value of working, leaving home, becoming economically self-reliant--are being delayed or skipped altogether. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse sees an existential threat to the American way of life. In The Vanishing American Adult, Sasse diagnoses the causes of a generation that can't grow up and offers a path for raising children to become active and engaged citizens. He identifies core formative experiences that all young people should pursue: hard work to appreciate the benefits of labor, travel to understand deprivation and want, the power of reading, the importance of nurturing your body--and explains how parents can encourage them.Our democracy depends on responsible, contributing adults to function properly--without them America falls prey to populist demagogues.

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