Youth is wasted on the young (George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950)
10th June 2019
I always think that the saying ‘youth is wasted on the young’, is the sort of thing that a rather curmudgeonly older person might say having observed the energy, strength and enthusiasm of young people and felt a certain envy.
As we get older we may well imagine how much more wisely and constructively we could now use all that time and energy, yet I am not convinced!
Youth is a blessing and at its best should be the one time in life when a child/youth is relatively free of responsibilities, free to explore, free to experiment (within reason), free to live without too much anxiety for the long term and free to ‘waste’ a bit of time.
It is precisely in this environment that the foundations of the healthy adult are established. However, arguably this is being increasingly eroded and childhood itself sacrificed in service to an adult agenda, from filling up every bit of spare time with atelic (goal-orientated) activities with measurable ,’useful’ outcomes, to over exposing and oversharing the worries and concerns of an adult world. The result? Children and young people showing signs of stress. What happened to unstructured time, time in which to grow?
We all wish the best for our children but sometimes we may be guilty of wasting their youth on our projects. Perhaps instead we need to pay attention to the shelved ambitions in our own lives, start exploring those and learn to ‘waste’ a little time ourselves.
One of the privileges of teaching is being alongside young people and seeing them develop but they are also a constant reminder to incorporate spontaneity, wonder, laughter and playfulness into life. Children are delightful ‘time wasters’ but nothing could be more important.