A student asked me an interesting question today. "When you were 17, how would you rate your understanding of politics and economics?" My answer was that my content knowledge was close to zero. I didn't read, I didn't write, and I certainly I didn't blog. And honestly, I didn't really care. The student went on to explain that the source of the question was from a conversation he recently had with an adult who didn't take his ideas very seriously because he was young. The man said that my student didn't have enough experience to fully engage in the conversation. He gave him the old "you'll understand when you're older" line.
I'm not sure whether this insulted me as a teacher of teenagers or as someone who looks like a teenager himself, but that phrase really bothers me. It's a cop out. It's not that the young person is too young, it's that you're not good enough at explaining what you have to say. This line tells your listener that it would take more effort than you're willing exert. That you didn't really care about learning, just showing that you're right. I certainly understand the limited understanding of youth. I spend all day with them. But don't tell someone they need life experience to comprehend. Use that conversation to give them the life experience they require or don't engage at all. Come on, you're old enough to know better.