Friday, September 04, 2009

What's Wrong

Some people think their way clearly and logically to their decision-making. Others just 'know' what's right. For those in the latter category the task is to convince waverers by showing working. Which means, having arrived at a decision that is obvious to us, we have to find ways to explain it to others. Don't worry Nailsea readers. This is not another argument about purchasing the Old Rectory. You know my view on that and outsiders won't care.

So people like me (no they don't, I mean 'such as') sometimes get a big hunch that something is wrong and then have to work backwards.

I got such a hunch the other day when reading about the thirteen year old girl who had been intercepted before attempting to be the youngest person to sail single-handed around the world. 'Quite right,' I thought. She shouldn't do that. And I have been the champion of young people's rights for as many years as I have not been a young person myself. Showing working may be awkward on this one.

A little thought this morning as I read a newspaper article about it and I came to the conclusion that we should discourage any records that are to do with 'the youngest.' By all means allow young people to be the fastest, strongest or whatever, competing against adults. There will always be early developers. Some records, such as swimming and gymnastics seem to favour youthful muscle and suppleness.

But if we say that 'the youngest person to...' is a category at all we run the risk of over-demanding parents pushing their offspring into vicarious accomplishments to make up for their own failures. And of young people attempting records of endurance before they understand the opportunity cost (friends/education) and yes, I did learn that expression in economics classes (see previous post).

'Where will it all end' is a fatuous Daily-Mailesque argument which imagines children in space if we allow children alone on boats. I won't go there. But I will say that childhood is a place for curiosity about everything and specialising too soon has a price. I'm immediately confronted by all the virtuosity of musicianship demonstrated by young people who started early and my own regrets at delayed introduction to the world of piano so the argument may suck a bit.

Need to do more thinking. But my hunch remains the same. Change my mind if you can.

1 comment:

Chris said...

just thinking aloud...

if we encourage diversity / curiosity at a young age, at the expense of specialisation, are we going to miss something? will we miss those that are so brilliant they discover something or do something that changes everything? i.e. if someone focusses on just one thing really early on, will that be to everyone's benefit?

but, how do we know when to encourage someone to do the one thing, where they will make something brilliant? the danger being that they might end up down a dead end or lose out?