Making the most of America’s young people
In his June 8 op-ed column, “The plight of the NEETs,” Robert J. Samuelson wrote that many of the NEETs— people ages 15 to 29 who are neither employed nor in education or training — lack employable skills. The NEETs pose a significant social problem. There are 39 million NEETs in 33 industrial nations. Their lack of employable skills will not be corrected unless they develop behaviors needed for success in life.
Paul Tough wrote several years ago about research on such behaviors. Important behaviors for success include zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude and curiosity. Without these behaviors, even those with grades good enough to get into college are likely to flunk out or quit.
Many universities help students with these behavioral deficiencies. The societal challenge is how to best help youth develop these behaviors early in life. With all of the emphasis on testing and standards, little is written about our schools trying to help students develop these behaviors. Some schools stress character development along with academic subjects; the best ones integrate character development and academics. The public ought to learn more about what schools are doing to foster these behaviors.
Frank A. Nicolai, Fort Washington
Robert J. Samuelson’s June 8 column missed the point. The world doesn’t need more workers. The world needs more people who devote their lives to something other than acquiring wealth, such as creating or helping others. That should be the role of the NEETs. Such work is more worthy than supporting yourself and could promote a sense of purposefulness instead of demoralization. We need NEETs.
Bobby Baum, Bethesda