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The commercialisation of young people

Cambridge University Professor Robin Alexander is involved in the biggest review of Primary education in 40 years. Alexander is arguing that adults, and the commercial world which they have created, are contributing to the unhappiness among our young people. He says that primary schools are now engulfed with the cult of celebrity, materialism and violence. What's more is that the stress caused by modernity is interfering with young people's ability to overcome setbacks; and so interferes with their learning.

According to his research, which was presented at the Childhood, Well-being and Primary Education Conference, parents and teachers are worried about young people. Specifically, they are worried about the effect that the modern world has on the younger generation.  What Alexander is saying, is that adults are projecting these fears on to young people with their 'alarmist talk' and are in fact making things worse.

Alexander's research shows that young people are much more optimistic about their lives than adults think.  However, despite this optimism in young people, adults are worried and anxious about them; the fears among teachers and parents out weigh those of the young people.

Not only this, but the values transmitted to young people are those of individualism, consumerism and materialism. With growing concern about the commercialisation of young people, Alexander thinks that adults should pay attention to their influence on young people's lives.  For example, it is adults who are responsible for creating the junk food which they target and sell to young people.  It is adults who are constantly presenting its commercial values to young people.   Adults control the commercial world which force feeds young people celebrity culture.

Alexander thinks that adults not only feel anxious about the society that young people are growing up in, but guilty about it too. A separate report, has raised concerns that government policies which focus on rigorous testing and targets within schools is adding to young peoples' stress.

Alexander's critique is looking at young people's lives, the school structures, the curriculum, and the ways of teaching young people, in order to understand and counteract the problems. You can follow the progress of the Primary report here.  To go to professor Alexanders website click here

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