On Youth Culture 

Youth live in a different world than adults, a world that is defined by their own culture. Culture consists of the beliefs, behaviors, objects, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. When children interact, they fulfill this definition and create their own culture. We can think of several examples for each of these aspects of culture, a few being: belief in Santa Claus, playing during recess as behavior, toys as objects etc.  

When you are trying to understand youth-adult interactions, you must think of adults as ambassadors to a different culture. Adults are outsiders to the culture of children and the more you know about youth culture, the more you are able to communicate with and understand youth. Treat a child as you would treat a member of an unknown/different culture with separate symbols and language. If you step onto the the playground of a school during recess, you will hear and see things that seem foreign to you. Symbolic gestures like “the dab” and special language like “trill” can be seen and heard, and you will be immersed in a culture you don’t fully understand.

We like to think of children as an extension of our own culture and they are,  to an extent, but not exclusively. They are a different group because they relate to eachother in a way adults cannot: they are new to this world. Youth culture is based on the unique perspective of children (which separates it from adult culture), and this perspective is heavily influenced by their reaction to the adult world. Youth culture is a expression of this. 

The most interesting thing about youth culture is that it’s contingent not only on location, but on age. Most cultures are tied to a location (when migrants travel, it is tied to their heritage) which is still the case for youth. However, an individual will lose youth culture after a certain age. This is due to the fact that youth are in a socialization process, and are assimilating to the culture of adulthood.

Youth culture is a reaction to the world that children are born into, and is a common ground for children to relate to each other and interact while in the process of socialization/assimilation. Once an individual is fully assimilated, they no longer need youth culture and identify with other adults in their culture. Youth culture is then left to the new youth of society, to adapt and change it to meet new needs and reactions to the world.

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Mead and Autism 

Mead is the man behind symbolic interactionism, which states that people connect through interaction guided by symbols. 
Children are in the process of learning how to recognize and react to symbols of situations. This is where children with autism experience difficulty. One of the main symptoms of autism in difficulty in social interactions, which implies that recognizing symbols in interaction would be deterred. 

The difficulty of social interaction with autistic children can be explained with Meadian theory. 

Autistic children and children of social disorders can’t recognize, or misinterpret, social situation symbols. One who spends time with autistic children may notice interesting conversation topics or interactions spring up out of nowhere. These are symbols that are created by the individual rather than agreed on by the group. Autistic children create these based on what they feel comfortable with to feel in control of the symbols and connect with others. They can’t recognize social symbols, so they create their own.

There are many theories as to what causes autism and therefore the failure to recognize symbols, and has been broken into subtypes. Today, scientists seem to agree one at least one thing: there are many different causes of autism. 

Whatever the cause is, it is important to remember that the social ailment is the inability or unwillingness to identify the symbols of a social situation. Treating autism should include this fact, and target it by teaching social skills carefully and patiently

A Prerequisite to Academic Learning 

When a child begins their life as a student he/she is met with many challenges. At this phase in a child’s life, the most pressing challenges include building developmental abilities and social skills; a child must learn social skills in order to be a successful student.

Let us be reminded that classroom education is a social interaction. A child can’t learn if they don’t understand communication, and attempting to teach a child without any social skills is extremely difficult. The role of the student is to participate in the interaction of the classroom: a passage of information where the teacher presents information and the student either absorbs it or asks for further explanation. The teacher and the student can both question and answer each other in this interaction. Classroom learning requires both of these roles to be filled. 

Children who have trouble learning in the classroom may simply lack social skills associated with learning. There are several reasons children may not have these skills, but whatever the case, they must learn social skills before they can learn in the classroom.

Learning the student role is essential and is the first task of a child in school. This is a large part of why students who didn’t go the preschool are so far behind in kindergarten. When children are first exposed to the student role, they begin socializing themselves into the role and understanding it’s expectations.

When a child understands the role of a student, they can embark on the social interaction of education. Social skills of the student role is a prerequisite to academic success.