Joshua explains, “Our main program is called the Distribution Program where we distribute food to those who are in need. We’ve given over 650,000 pounds of food through that project over nine years.” He eventually realized that not everyone who received his food knew how to prepare it, so he decided to educate them. “The next project was one we started about two or three years ago…We have a chef come out and teach the people we are helping with the food that they are receiving how to cook a healthy meal.” Williams thinks the high cost of nutritious food is one reason why many people don’t know how to cook. “It’s crazy that it’s cheaper to buy McDonalds than a salad. In fact, that’s why a lot of people do not buy healthy food.”
Stanley Hall coined the term “adolescent” with his 1904 book, Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relation to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion, and Education. Hall was a psychologist, the first president of the American Psychological Associationand the first president of Clark Universityin Worcester, Massachusetts. What came to define “adolescence” by the mid-20th century was legally mandated school attendance and the exclusion of humans ages 13-19 from most of adult life throughout the industrial societies.
While Hall was correct in his insight that child and youth development recapitulates human evolution, he misunderstood the capacities of youths in the ages 13-19 years, focusing more on their negative potentials than their positive ones. From this starting point, our cultural misunderstanding of adolescence has only grown over the past century.
Adolescence comes from the Latin adolescere, meaning “to grow up.” Youths in these years are growing up in many ways, but the fact of this ongoing growth does not limit the capacities to which youths already have access, for example, critique of the limitations and failures they perceive in the adult society, creative imagination, a call to purpose and meaning in their lives now, and a willingness to work hard to see their own aspirations come into being.
It is time for the term “adolescence” to be discarded.
We know now that the brain does not reach its full maturation until the mid-20s in most humans. But this does not mean that the youth’s brain is insufficient for making a positive contribution to the world.
“Teens” and “teenagers” are labels that only came into usage in the 1950s, by which time the vast majority of people ages 13-19 had been conscripted into legally mandated schooling, the teen ghetto, in the United States and other industrial nations. These terms are often used to disparage people in this age group. They should also be discarded.
Youth is defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, and so on characteristic of one who is young.” Those humans who are between the ages of 13 and 19 are young, and these characteristics are accurate for the vast majority of humans in this age group.
Youth is also a time of seeing the world with fresh eyes, of feeling the world with a new heart, and responding to the world with the potential for creative imagination.
Youth is by far the better term.
As a result of a ridiculous legal opinion about the nature of trademarks, the Canadian SelfDesign Learning Foundation is eradicating SelfDesign from the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil. SelfDesign will only continue to exist in British Columbia.
Of course, this is the opposite of what Brent Cameron intended when we worked together in 2011 to create the SelfDesign Graduate Institute. Sadly Brent is dead, and so is his aspiration of offering SelfDesign to children, youth, and fanilies all across the planet.
I have friends who really do see the world definitely not the same as me but who take the same approach as me—very interested, philosophical. We don’t get the same answers, and we don’t believe all the same things, but because of how we think, I can relate to them.
I feel like we’re in a really, really pivotal part of our existence. I think that the near-future is probably not going to look so wonderful. But the world’s strong, and humans are pretty capable, and I think eventually we’re going to mess it up enough where we finally realize what we have done and we’ll be able to come out of it. Not only we as humans, but this whole giant ball and all the creatures on it.
I would love to see a world in which people cease to see that there is a separation between us and the rest of the natural world. There’s so much knowledge—millions, billions of years of evolutionary knowledge in nature—that we can learn from nature, and we can fulfill many of our human needs in ways that are in harmony with nature and not working against nature.
I have a very definite sense, expanding, growing sense of my own spirituality, and I feel that there is much that I can learn from all the wisdom traditions, but that none of them holds all the truths for me.
By Robert Gilman
The greatest benefit of evolutionary parenting accrues to the persons who receive this gift of consciousness and love.
The second greatest gift goes to the parents, who can see the results of their efforts and whose lives are enriched by their continued connection with their child(ren).
The ultimate gift is to humanity—and to all life on our planet Earth.
During the past two centuries, many spiritual teachers have talked and written about the nature of human beings. But only Inayat Khan, Rudolf Steiner, and Aurobindo Ghose have informed this discussion with detailed descriptions of both the process of human becoming in childhood and youth and the desired functions of child raising and education to support each child’s and teen’s unfoldment. These three men lived at the same historic moment, yet as far we know, they never met. Each one came to essentially the same vision of human unfoldment, this common vision,through his own spiritual intuition.
Each man described our evolutionary potential in the same way: one key vehicle for the ongoing evolution of our species is the extent to which the parenting and education that young people receive allows and nurtures each child’s and teen’s unfoldment toward her or his potential. The more this happens, the more our species will evolve in consciousness.
What do parents who choose to act consciously from these insights say about their experiences of parenting?
There was very much of a sense that the child was a person to be respected as their own person and by no means a blank slate. And that our role as parents was to help with the coming out, the sort of nurturing forth of the potential that was there.
I wanted to give a very strong sense of rhythm to each young child, a sense of rhythm to each day. I wanted to bring a real consciousness to the care I gave them.
We were trying not to create forbidden fruits. We wanted her to learn to see through these kind of things—Barbie—not just to see it the way we do, but to make her own way through things, so she can see for herself how things are.
I’m very sensitive, but my daughter doesn’t have to feel guilty about my sensitivity. I told her that it’s just that she is this beautiful soul who is evolving, and she’s going through this stage right now.
A child comes into life with an evolved soul and has to be respected. When we think of the child as being younger than we are, it can be seen as simply an accident of time. In actuality the child may be more evolved than we are.
I felt that honesty with myself was the key to providing a model of integrity that I could show to them. Compassion for other people was something that I hoped to give them as a value that they could carry forward within their lives.