I started this week talking about teenagers. And I recently discussed a particular teenager with someone very close to me. He was lamenting the fact that his lovely, intelligent and athletically talented teenage daughter had recently developed a disturbing distaste for learning. It seems that she thinks that learning is kind of, well, uncool.
She's a bright kid, with a lot of aptitude. And I know she's not the first of her kind to shrug off academics as unnecessary. Her father was wondering how to encourage her, how to get her excited about academics and, more importantly, about her own potential.
My advice was to find some younger people she looks up to and see what they have to say about learning and education. The opinions of younger people and people teens already respect and admire carry a lot of weight in adolescence. Remember?
For me, it only took reading that River Phoenix was a vegetarian to change my eating habits for more than a decade. For better or worse, the opinions of peers and role models carry a lot of weight for teens.
Recently, I came across a newish CNN blog, Young People Who Rock. It's basically a weekly interview series, spearheaded by Nicole Lapin. Lapin's focus is on inspirational people under age 30. She introduces them and their stories on her blog and follows up with an on air interview. From skyrocketing drop-out rates to leukemia, the young people Lapin finds have all overcome some difficult hurdles in their young lives and have truly inspirational stories to share. And while education may not be the focus of each story, most of these young people have a lot to teach. And none of them could do the good they do without a healthy respect for knowledge.
Young People Who Rock is worth a read. And while you're at it, pass it on. You never know who you might inspire.