May 12, 2009

When Did Expressing a Political Opinion Become An ‘Age-Appropriate Risk’?

Filed under: Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:50 am

I’ll admit to being from the Mesozoic Era (actually, I went to grade school and high school during the 1960s and early 1970s).

During that long-lost era, I distinctly remember being involved in a spirited grade school class debate in 1966 or 1967 about the Vietnam War. There were strong opinions on both sides. After it was over, I recall that nobody took it personally or shunned anyone because of their opposing views.

So given that background, I was more than a little surprised to see this quote I stumbled upon yesterday in a Family Circle Magazine (March 2009; free registration might be required) from a “Steve Schlozman, MD, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital”:

Adolescents need to know you trust them to make good decisions,” he says. “Your faith builds their confidence to take age-appropriate risks — ask someone out on a date, audition for the play, offer a political opinion.


The not-so-good Dr. Schlozman immediately follows with this absurd, dangerous, family-destructive statement which makes his credibility very, very suspect:

Prying can also spur kids to act out. “Kids need to have a separate life their parents don’t know all about,” adds Dr. Schlozman.

Really? Here’s a ditzy doc who says in essence that kids need to learn to be little sneaks to grow up well-adjusted. I hope that’s not typical family magazine advice, but I fear that it is.

Back on point: Since when did the decision to express a political opinion, whether inside a classroom or not, become an “age-appropriate risk”? And what are the potentially bad consequences of taking such a risk?

I have a sense of what the answers are, but it would be interesting to hear from others. I apologize for having to moderate comments, which makes posting far from immediate, but I don’t watch the blog 24-7, and will not allow spam, profanity, and other inappropriateness (not necessarily in that order) to appear.



  1. Got me, Tom – it never has been a problem expressing an opinion in our home or among our extended family. Our two young adults are graduating from college this coming weekend – they’ve felt free to offer their opinions on anything and everything since they could talk. (They came of age in Fairfax VA). Pete

    “Since when did the decision to express a political opinion, whether inside a classroom or not, become an “age-appropriate risk”?”

    Comment by P.M. Leenhouts — May 12, 2009 @ 8:53 am

  2. #1, I think the “risk” is expressing such an opinion outside of home or extended family.

    This shrink obviously thinks it’s a risk, perhaps because of the uber-PC classroom environments in MA. But I don’t think uber-PC classroom environments are unique to MA.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 12, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  3. I, too, have to wonder what the doctor is thinking to be the downside to expressing a political opinion. What is an age-appropriate opinion about politics? Perhaps the doctor is (rationally) thinking of the consequence of speaking out against a dictator and the courage that requires. Maybe he is even prodding us to think of the big picture; big daddy government needs to stop prying into our lives and show more confidence in us.

    Comment by Michael — May 12, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  4. School textbooks are systematically scrubbed of controversy before publication in an effort to make them “value-neutral.” Then, when teachers express their own political opinions in a classroom, there are no other points of view for students to consider and debate upon. The students get “A” grades when they regurgitate back information the way it was presented by the teacher. Then, when the kid arrives at college, the professors are wondering why the new freshman don’t demonstrate that they are capable of analytical thinking and critical expression. When these kids turn 18, it’s no surprise that they vote according to what’s been portrayed as politically correct by the MSM. It’s clear the Harvard psychiatry prof isn’t trying to emboldened kids to engage their school teachers in political debates. It’s quite clear that he’s telling the parents not to challenge any politically-correct MSM-driven propaganda that their teen might happen to regurgitate in their presence, knowing that the parents are likely to be more conservative than the child and, also, that if a political debate ensues between parent and child, the child is probably not as well-prepared as the parents to engage in debate.

    Comment by Daniel Jack Williamson — May 12, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  5. #3, good points. And while I hope yours is the direction in which this dude is going, perhaps we should consider that he is going in the opposite of enabling the dictator…

    If we condition future generations to not express our opinion about matters and/or policy, that would certainly pave the way for the powers that be (on either side) to assume that they do not have an opinion and do as they please.

    In fact, taking political discourse out of everyday, water-cooler discussions (for fear of rebuke or offense), is one of the reasons this country is in such a predicament.

    What I hope the oppressors (on both sides) in this nation’s capital understand is that there are still MILLIONS of us out here who will readily fight & die for that which we know is right vs. live as a slave to an oppressive government.

    Food for thought.

    Comment by Rose — May 12, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

  6. I have an 8 year old who has a better grasp of economics than most Capitol Hill politicians and a definite opinion about current events. Our only “age appropriate risk” is, I believe, the classroom environment that Tblumer mentioned. Our area is less PC than others, but I have warned her about arguing with her teacher about climate change. :)

    Comment by Becbeq — May 12, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

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