Are you in your twenties, or thirties, or forties, and don't feel like an adult yet?
Do have a strange impluse to study a bunch of different unrelated fields, and feel like your education is incomplete until you do?
Do you feel a compulsion to go on extended walkabout in foreign cultures? And don't know how to explain it to the folks who just want you to settle down already?
Would you like an excuse to spend the next ten years in grad school, studying something completely new?
Then I may have the book for you!
Why It Takes Ten Extra Years To Grow Up is about how new cognitive development occuring worldwide (chaos, complexity, emergence) is pushing the age of true adulthood even higher then ever, just as a shift to literacy added a decade to growing up back at the beginning of the Classical Era (whenever that was for your particular culture).
Unfortunately I don't have a publisher yet, so you can't get this in bookstores right now, but I have been known to let people who ask nicely (especially autistic people, because I'm biased that way) read a copy, in exchange for feedback.
And I'm not kidding about the grad school. My hope is that this work will be the starting point for hordes of research on cognitive, social and moral development beyond formal and postformal operations. Let the fun begin!
It takes ten extra years or so to grow up these days. Many people in their twenties postpone adulthood for some time, while midlifers sometimes step away from their adult social roles for a while to revisit issues they may have abandoned in their youth.
This is the sort of thing that happens every time a culture makes a radical shift in its way of thinking. We don't know what happened when humans first started talking, and we don't know much about how literacy in the classical era affected young people, but we know that teens in the Renaissance in Europe, during a period when Europe was making a shift from semiliteracy to full literacy, behaved very similarly to twenty-somethings today - many of them went on walkabout, drifted from school to school, moved away from home, moved back in with parents, and postponed taking on an adult social role for up to a decade or more. Only they were ten years younger than the twenty-somethings of today.
The shift isn't just because the world is getting bigger and more complicated and it takes longer to master relevant practical skills. It's because whenever human culture acquires a new way of thinking - a new level of cognitive development - it takes an extra decade or so to get a handle on it. When you add literacy to a culture, you add linear thinking and abstract reasoning, which take time to grasp (there is no abstract reasoning in primitive preliterate cultures). And when you add the logic of complexity, as we are doing today, you are adding new types of logic that require a radical rethink of everything, which also takes time to grasp. And so it takes an extra ten years or so to grow up these days.
Part 1 of the book describes how children's minds make sense of the world. It includes summaries of the established cognitive developmental stages from the research of Piaget, Kohlberg, Selman, Fowler and others. It also includes a preliminary description of complex non-linear logic (it will take researchers decades to produce established stages paralleling the earlier ones, but this gives readers a basic overview), and a summary of some of the non-cognitive developmental issues that also come up in the midlife crisis.
Parts 2, 3 and 4 describe how civilization has evolved from primitive cultures, in which adults had the sophistication of seven-year-olds, at most, to classical and modern cultures, with a mental age of no more than sixteen (the ceiling on IQ tests), to the current emergence of complex logic in adult reasoning, using examples from books from each historical period and from a variety of cultures. These examples should make it fairly obvious that people didn't always think or act the way they do now, and that things are changing again. The final chapter summarizes the three stages of cultural development, each with its own definition of adulthood, and addresses the issue of the pain of cultural transition and how best to go about it.