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This is Ben park with the final program in the series coming of age in 12 preceding programs from tape recordings made all over America. We featured the stories of individual teenagers or programs on one teenage topic. This program is different. It covers a wide range of teenage comments encouraging and perhaps discouraging. It's not a rehash of what's gone before. Much of what I've chosen to include here is material which struck me with particular force but couldn't be included within the frameworks of other programs. This program is an uninterrupted series of impressions on many subjects by teenagers themselves. You're left quite free just to listen to and if you choose judge this potpourri of adolescent candor at the end of the program there's a brief commentary by Dr. Margaret Mead. I don't like the music they have gotten that rhythm and blues music better for the older ones that they had five years ago 40 years ago. I enjoy them now. I like rock n roll and I like Yahoo's Price me. Then I left
Glasgow music you had to hike up. I like talking to music I don't like classical. And of course Iraq and this was before the accident. So we're going along the Major Deegan done he said. Nineteen ninety six miles an hour. Catch me was the head you know so I kept pushing him back up to keep it going keep a goal in your body else in the car is gripping me and telling me to shut up because they were scared you know. I always tell them if they're going to drink I don't care how many EVAs just want not to come around. Some attire living yet I die in their car. You say that you know this one kid who got killed. Have any of the other kids in the gang you know crowd around troubled kids have sort of a good thing you get picked up or pipes careless driving. That's another name for you are now little things like that nothing serious driving all kinds of things
that these two boys. I've gotten about four or five cakes and they had said this like a little bar in the garage you know. And there was a there were two fathers there serving the beer and they didn't ask how old or anything because it was a private party and it turned out that about 12 o'clock. All four police cars came over and they had to break party because there were fights in everything and is even and to this day and all the way from September now it seems like there's always police there all the open and the houses get ruined. By having to grow for over two years now. They grow if you let a girl tell you. She's 16 good marks. Good looking girl. What about other girls you going to look at
other girls too casually. And once for a while of. Course she did know about it but. I'm one of these girls who you know generally are passing around or what. Yeah gentle story you know. Well let's face it the world revolves. I mean it's a natural thing. The top discussion amongst just about everybody I mean that's always pops up. It's there so it's reality I mean not that you watch what you have to or like to that you just it's do you compare notes with the other guys about a particular girl oh you know he said. Well I was I would say you know the scenario would you get you know you know just the same ones I mean it's Nessa No it's no surprise. What about your parents. I don't suppose they know about of course.
Of course every parents. Feel they they know inside that maybe their son is doing a natural thing and it's nothing wrong when I think everybody expects that but they don't come out and say it. Put it this way before if you didn't. If that's my opinion you know you don't have to relate it to this particular girl. Oh yeah well I can tell you right now doesn't do it. There was this is the girl you don't. That's right. What's your feeling about the whole thing. I feel there's a girl that you need. Well like with things that you know piling up as you said before they have something to fall back on is somebody you know to go to and to just sit and relax talk things over. And there's another girl you go out was for kicks are fine you can enjoy yourself more with with different kind of a girl and you can with your own girl but as a whole as an overall she's you know she's got everything a little bit everything and I think it's good to have a steady girlfriend.
I tell my girlfriend that I like him. Martin County correct. I thought it was only a crush. Sometimes that really cool bar in the firing room. It's been quite right. Saturday night is our date night we either go to a show or a party or a dance. And Friday night he picks me up from work I were to mine in sometimes during the week like Wednesday night I belong to the club and he'll pick me up from there. In the local up to his ass and watch television in the week before last I think I was over his house every night. My studying didn't get too well done that way. But we try not to see each other too much because it is hard with him coming home from football now. Now that I'm living up with my grandmother and now yes to ride all the way up there to bring me home and all the way back by then he's almost falling asleep on his way home so it's quite
hard for him. Doesn't help his study much either with all the football practice how it does not have been. After all we're teenagers right there and if were were three days come on it's going to make our lives quite hard and most of us will lose boyfriends or husbands so we're kind of hoping they can get something worked out. Peace be established. Sometimes when I think of all the weapons we have and everybody else has and I think that if we had another war it just might be the last and I don't like to think towards that. Do you want to particularly do anything about it. That's a good question I think that I could hang I could help and I think that if we get so much of this this pessimistic stuff we're so far behind Russia Russia is going to do this Russia is so great and so many years it will surpass us by so many millions. I don't think that's good for the American people it all put them in the wrong frame of mind.
How do you feel about all this is a guy who's going to be living for several more decades. It doesn't bother me if it gets a fierce look at the math and I think that the media do about it right now and let it go. Maybe it's just me seems like we should we should we should maintain the balance of power with Russia Red China doesn't effect a war there further where I mean business is worrying about if it comes from a country and it probably does come in. On here I want to be worried about it because they should drop the bomb and go in trying to dry the river up for seven miles and together for quite seven miles from the Golden Triangle. I'd probably yeah sure but I want to get into television drama. You'll be 18 next year. What are you going to do about military service. Sort of like the idea of their pension plan. I mean after 20 years you get out. You mean that you might even stay in the army and continue in show work in the army.
Yeah so business is very unpredictable. You know that yourself. And if you've got a steady job why not get one of things about showbusiness course that delights a lot of people is the challenge in it of keeping a job finding a job hunting jobs Ed. And being turned down. Well there is a challenge there. When you've got to provide for yourself and get married govern your family you gotta think about it that way too. After all you can't just roam around looking for a job all your life. Yeah but you're a young fellow you know you don't have to get security right off the bat. Why not. I think this match to match two cultures trying to doff feeling about money I think that people who think too much way out I know that sometimes I feel that I would like to be
rich because I'd like to know how I felt and I'd like to have all the clothes I wanted. And things like that but I know that I wouldn't be happy if it were only for how I could play around but I would lose something that has been instilled in me all my life I would have to depend on material things for my happiness and I never had to do that I can be alone doesn't bother me. I mean I can document occupy myself it's my imagination my thoughts. I've gotten away from the church in the last four years because I've been sort of almost forced to go taking my sisters my father and mother don't go there. They are supposed to be Christians too. They don't go to church and we had revival last week and they went one night and they kept asking us Why are we going. And I told him that I went every Sunday and they stayed home. I feel they had any right to force me to go during the week
I had planned to do. Well I study hard so I get by and I learn what I want to learn. I learned of course I don't get straight A's. But then if I study I probably never would get straight a God whose teachers told me that I was an average student I could never make straight. That's all I had here you know. But I study enough I never failed a course throughout high school I was passed with what you say are you the greatest teachers of your average who never would make a good job. So I mean but still I figure if I may can I get an A once in a while I get A's on tests in school and that but I don't rack up straight A's are a poor card for sure. But now I'm learning a lot. So it doesn't matter what grade I get. What if the guidance teacher had said to you you could make straight A's.
Think I think I know what is going to tell me after I go to high school I would say they're not going to help me any. What if I learn I think I could cheat on every test and I wouldn't be anywhere near which you don't know sometimes the pens like we had a history test and kids and back room with a magazine wide open and a round big everyone in the back of the room we everyone the class got to know a teacher went out of the room and left this there you know little things like that sort of musing. I think our sort of polluted because last year my freshman year we never said anything about college training and. They said you've got to pick the college you've got to pick the college. None of us is a college child and I don't want to get caught. Tell us just how my favorite subject you know to talk about right now is education Lester's debate proposition was on education. And
I have my own ideas about how to teach and things like that from reading because you have to read constantly blasters proposition concerning United States educational system in the Russian educational system comparing them things like that. And it seems that many of the statistics show that definitely the Russian educational system is teaching the students will one say all the students. But enough of the students to get farther ahead of us in many of the major fields perhaps because our our freedom and our independence depends so much on our educational system it seems necessary that we do something about it because too often the most intelligent and the least intelligent are lost in the shuffle to teach for the average student. I know many times up at our school alone the teachers will say well I'm teaching for the average student. So obviously she's missing the brighter students because she's going to slow and boring them perhaps and the slower students she's going to fast and she's leaving them back.
Now you're you're one of the better students. Have you found yourself being held back. At times I know in math I consider being held back. Later we're taking trigonometry and so far we've had a month of school and we're still in the first chapter of our trade book and you're supposed to cover the trade in a half a summer in one semester. And first I don't think we're going to get done for one thing we've never finished a complete math book and we've never before completed a science book as far as I can remember. This year we have one advantage we have television by Dr. White from of you QED. And he's teaching physics. We have our physics from there and he continues right on the head out. Well supposedly a little above the average person but it still leaves a problem of leaving the below average person behind. But at least he's not letting you wait around so to say for what's coming up next you have to keep right with them. Well should decide how you feel about the exploration of
space. To me it is a unified I mean I think it's good I think it should be done. I don't see it. Nothing wrong with that and to change leadership and all that and it's really when you go I don't like the fall specially when most the shot of the night you can manage crisp and cold just Israel's flea she'd be high up a few little white clouds in a plane you'd see in my hundred miles you just see the moon flown by and all those stars back you reach and you can touch and then you would really be great you know just the way pioneers while looking out over the river and it was the boundary of the country. Would you like to be an astronaut. Yeah I'd be fine with me. What's your feeling about the conquest of space. What's your what's your opinion of that. Well I feel like it should continue because it has unlimited benefits once we can break combat aviation.
Explore the other plant man as sidelights are by products of the research. Many advances on the earth will take place. You said that you want to go to MIT what particular course of study you think you want to follow. I'm not certain yet. I would like to be a nuclear physicist. It. If that doesn't work out. I'm also interested in research campus. I would like to work for a missile manufacturer to develop probably one of the large aircraft companies so I'd probably be working out ways you refer to that. Yes I can anyway. We're coming into a presidential election year. Have you and your friends talked at all about your favorite candidates or going you'd like to see the run or anything like that. I talked about that in history the chances of me
but none of us have expressed our opinion. What chances do you think they have. Well. This goes back to an article a different candidate you know from different parts of the country are favored here and are not favored. That's what I meant by chance. Did you come to any kind of conclusion at all in your class as to what the candidates seem to have the edge. Yes I think it was Nixon on the Republican ticket for president and I don't recall his vice president. Kerry Kennedy a Republican who's a Democrat. Let's get back to work. You said that you're interested in getting. More of your people the book is a problem. Yes this is a problem.
The people you know that were really interested in getting me a roast will. I think we were about to mark it out and the two had to go on their home. Places to beg them to get out. And it just so people who were willing and people who could you know really get out just when they were just playing it like some of the responsibility that they felt was too important and I was. 16. Going people to making phone calls having meetings discussing him things and so have you had any discussions either in school on your friends about the idea of 18 year olds going. We haven't discussed the fact that I know everyone in my group
ASIS way he's good. I think they'll be able to enjoy some say they were 18 here. Me You must be 21. How do you feel about this. Do you think it'll be a good idea. Two of them actually will be if you know. Yes because I'm me and I think I'm fully aware of what's happening. I think it will be in that society if he grows up. I could be making up for someone who's not you know using his right. My parents don't vote I don't know why and I really don't see why they don't because enough four houses from our house during any time there's elections being held. These people who own their home open their garage in have you know an election poll there. So all they have to do is rock about 50 steps and they'd be right there. But they just never registered. How do you feel about that if you Leisha. Yes I think they should. And a good deal of talk about people
voting at the age of 18 how do you feel about that. I don't know why I don't think that's too good because 21 You seem to be the standard age for a lot of things that's when you can if you want to you can start being served by tavern or something like that. Half the people say well if we're old enough to hold a gun you know and fight for our country we're old enough to vote and the other half say well you always say you go in the service as a boy. Come on it's a man. You better wait until you come out of the service before you start voting. But to me it seems that it doesn't only lie in what you can do when you're 18 or what you're forced to do when you're 18 or why wait till 21 it seems more important that the people who would vote would be the people who would be interested in politics. You take for instance the gang that's driving their cars at 300 miles an hour supposedly down the street and seeing who can go the fastest or how many people they can kill
ha going to be the ones the teenagers that are going to go to the polls simply because they're not interested in that. You yourself would be my strength. I was hoping to vote this year. Shame it prejudiced people in Hollywood to allow situations to get out of control and produce. I mean you quality in various places and also the backward countries people starving. I think I feel it. More and more other civilized countries should teach them better methods of performing and help the world with play action. No more brotherhood. You are allowed to purchase food at the comma but you are not allowed to serve it. You could be served by stand only by standing
and the 24 students only saw that and we got together and we decided that it was wrong it was not fair practice and to our rights we were being denied. So therefore we decided that something should be done and that's what we did. We went down to the store and they were there were three groups and those groups burger in the store and I had a sad time. They all approached the lunch counters. And they sat on till they were arrested that day. How long did you say we sat for seven hours. One striking thing was some of the people from the other race all white. They came up to us and congratulated us on the move that we were taking. And don't mind
me he said to me that I would like to congratulate you on this move on. There are others along with me who would like to express their views but they are afraid. So we thank you for and went on about for this program in coming of age we invited the comments of the well-known author and anthropologist Dr. Margaret Mead. I'm very struck with there being almost no sense that this is a period that is valuable to self. You don't get much sense of there being anything very good about this period in my life. And yet I am struck also there's not a great deal of urgency to get out of it. The response to the 18 year old vote doesn't seem to be a very enthusiastic endorsing of the 18 year old vote it's more a matter of equity of fairness if you have to go die for your country you ought to be allowed to vote for the didn't seem to be very much enthusiasm back of it. This is an
extraordinary lack of any of the idealism that we used to associate with this age group. In fact we used to worry that they were so many religious and political and intellectual choices were forced upon them that it put too much pressure on them. You don't feel this today the only choice anybody has forced on them is pick a college pick a college and all this is difficult because it's hard to get into best colleges today but that that's about the size of the choice. The only place where one gets a sense of any kind of moral energy that's organized in any way. The only place where you get a sense of any organized moral energy is from the Negro youngsters the ones who organize the sit in strike and the girl who was trying to get her people to vote. And of course this is a deeply representative of the country because you also get the one point where
other peoples of the world are mentioned not the Russians just as a competitive element but other peoples of the world that starts with a discussion of prejudice too. This seems to be the one point in the country at present that has touched the conscience of our young people. The one place closer to home where. They begin to wonder and think a little bit about what's going on in the rest of the world. But on the whole I'm very struck with the individual as most of these comments they're not rebellious individuals even if they're driving cars to faster drinking beer. The conditions of whatever they're doing are provided by society so that we have a picture of YOUNG PEOPLE very much aware of the stereotypes about themselves. What you'd expect a teenager to like what you'd expect a teenager to do. They've gotten this from the mass media of course. So there's a good deal of awareness
of what's going on in the country what expected of them. A good deal of awareness that. Adults especially parents aren't living up to the standards that they preach but very little sense of being part of anything. There's doesn't seem to be any bridge between the individual and the whole of society where there might be world war 3 where we might be blown up where it might hit the Golden Triangle. It would be a petty selfish little girl who says if war comes some of us will lose our boyfriends so be a good thing if we invented some way of not having war. Rush is only important because they might be a nuisance to us and the rest of the world is just left out and other people are left out. I have my parents my girlfriend my boyfriend and that's about all.
No knowledge of the great proportion of the world it's underfed struggling to get an education overpopulated and every day becoming more of a problem for us now. I have a feeling running through all this. You see I'm nobody in particular. There is no call for me to feel to say who am I going to be. It's partly the break between generations in the fact that. We've turned teenage culture over to teenagers. It's as if we'd shut the children off in a box that we built and said anything they might see through the glass walls of the box wasn't for them. Yet they set their own standards they do what the others do but we've broken the thread or broken the connection between the aspiring excited zestful youngster and an adult that he might be some kind of adult. Sometimes his father of course in this country nobody's ever wanted to be their father but they used to want to be president. And the thing
I feel is missing here is I don't believe anybody wants to be president and I don't believe anybody's mother and father 100 the president either. There is one thing that comes through this or two I should say there was there was the one boy who was interested in the wider world of people on this earth. And then there is the boy who really looked up at space and felt as if you could reach up and touch it. And of course he's represented in another form by the boy who wants to be a physicist and maybe work at a missile base which again is one way in which we're working on space and that boy was very imaginative You know when he really made the point that space a hundred miles up look to him the way the other side of the river once looked to its pioneer ancestors. He got the point that possibly this was the the next step that would open up a kind of horizon that doesn't exist for these young people who are at present appears so cooped up in a
not very exciting not very challenging not very idealistic world. This has been the final program in coming of age. The series was produced for the National Educational Television and Radio Center by the Center for mass communication of Columbia University and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is Ben park. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Coming of age
What are teenagers made of
Producing Organization
Columbia University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
A kaleidoscopic cross-section of teenage thought and opinion. The program features a guest appearance by Margaret Mead.
Series Description
Explores the thoughts and feelings of American youth in the 20th century. Writer-director Ben Park talks with teenagers and parents, teachers and friends.
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Social Issues
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Director: Park, Ben
Interviewee: Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978
Producing Organization: Columbia University
Writer: Park, Ben
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-21-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:20
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Chicago: “Coming of age; What are teenagers made of,” 1961-12-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “Coming of age; What are teenagers made of.” 1961-12-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: Coming of age; What are teenagers made of. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from