Publish at March 08 2023 Updated March 08 2023

What role does the model have for youth?

The model is everywhere, it is the pillar of our world

Wave models

To understand the role of the model in our societies, the simplest thing to do is to first look at how our brains behave and what the role of the model is there.

In fact, all learning, whether intellectual or physical, goes through the same mechanism of the model.

"We knew that we owe our athletic performance to a tiny cluster of cells nestled deep in our cerebellum. What we didn't know ... is that as we learn new motor skills (a golf swing, for example), neurons in the cerebellum perform elegant, almost mathematical calculations to compare in real time what they feel to what they expected to feel.

They then quickly adjust by changing the strength of connections between other neurons to form new brain patterns to perform the task at hand. In other words, individual brain neurons have the ability to dynamically recognize the difference between expected sensory feedback and the information they actually receive during motor learning. The calculated difference is then used to rapidly alter brain patterns and connections between neurons to enable learning of new motor skills."

Sources: "50 - Learning to move: our brains know how to predict the unexpected" by Hubert Desrues - August 23, 2015

"Every entry into learning begins with a theoretical or practical starting point. This is the point of comparison. It will underpin the experience and enrich it each time the experience is repeated. We can compare this knowledge to a cloud of checkpoints or comparison points, whose periodicity from one point to the next will more or less fortify the knowledge and its transmission in the brain.

The more recurrent the information, the more neural roads and highways it will create that are conducive to the integration of the close or complementary experience. There is an iterative mechanics of learning and a movement back and forth from one experience to the next that generates the modeling and integration of intellectual patterns that will foster the opportunity to integrate new physiological, physical, and bodily knowledge."

Source: Spontaneous Model-Based Learning: adjustment and reinforcement - April 2018

Models can be social models as well, not just of the nature of experience, or predictability, but also of the norm.

"From Erasmus's Puerile Civility to Little Model Girls to The Adventures of Telemachus, children's and young people's literature has long been seen as a moral tale contributing to the edification of younger generations by portraying the values and norms of an era and society. What is it in the contemporary period?

Taking place in the whole of the cultural elements which surround the childhood, that they result from the traditional supports or from the most modern media, the children's literature can always be regarded as one of the contemporary forms of these old manuals of civilities through which were enacted and transmitted the normativities. If the status of childhood has evolved, so have the forms of enactment of normativities. One can thus make the hypothesis that these mutations are translated and reflected through this cultural mirror. This is why we will choose here the particular angle of a socialization ritual, in full reinvention, the birthday, to examine mutations and variations of childhood figures in the mirror of its literary staging.

In fact, while traditionally the birthday was organized mainly around the family elder, as nicely illustrated by the ordering of Aunt Brunette's birthday by Elsa Beskoff published in 1925, it now celebrates first and foremost the child, around whom either the family circle or the circle of friends gathers..."

Source: Childhood Model, Childhood Model?
The Representation of Childhood through the Birthday Rite in Children's Literature
Children in Books (2013)

And the norm changes. Lifestyle habits are changing. Here the focus of traditional birthdays has shifted from elders to grandchildren. This says a lot about our social changes and the construction of our societies.

""We old people"

At 78, Pope Francis has never hidden that he feels the weight of age. "We old people are all a little fragile, but some are particularly weak, alone, marked by illness. Some depend on the care and attention of others. Will we step up to them, or leave them to their fate?

A society without proximity, where free and unrequited affection disappears, is a perverse society. Where there is no honor for the old, there is no future for the young," the pope noted, repeating a challenge made to participants in the WYD in Rio in 2013. (apic/rv/mp)".

Source: Pope Francis: "A society without respect for the elders carries the virus of death" - March 2015

I'm not taking this example to create a religious controversy, that's not the point, but religious leaders are among the few who speak out about this problem. It used to be that the family was central to the cycle of life and that death and life were natural things. Today, elders and death are hidden and this is the new model we are offering our children. Births are celebrated but the end of the cycle is broken.

The consequence is a radical change in the model. It is possible that this is also one of the causes of the disappearance of religions. Religions have one thing in common to all of them, and that is the management of death and hope in the face of despair. Death is still part of our lives, but it is erased and family ties are increasingly distended until in some situations going as far as abandoning one's own parents to their fate.

I keep in mind this strange anecdote that makes one smile but is the premise of what may happen here in the West also in a few decades.

Japan is far ahead in societal development than we are today. To see our future, we must go and see what is happening there today.

"While some aspire to be free again, others voluntarily want to end their days incarcerated despite the reputedly harsh conditions of Japanese prisons. These individuals are all retired seniors...

Since the mid-2000s, a surprising phenomenon has been growing in Japan: senior citizens are committing crimes in order to be incarcerated on the grounds that they enjoy better living conditions in prison than in freedom. A uniquely cynical situation in the world of a society that seems to have abandoned its elders to the point where confinement, normally synonymous with deprivation of liberty, becomes deliverance."

Source: Japan: when grandpa and grandma prefer to go to jail... - June 2022

Patterns evolve over time. And, patterns that evolve over time also mean that they can be bent and are not set in stone. Norms and even statuses change...

"Adolescence is generally described as a transitional phase between childhood and adulthood, but the modalities of passage from adolescence to adulthood have progressively disintegrated: there are no longer any installed rituals. Today, with the massification of schooling and the lengthening of studies, it is difficult to set age limits for adolescence: we speak of pre-adolescence from the age of 11 and post-adolescence until the age of 17; it is no longer even puberty that determines this stage. In this book, we will focus on the 12-17 age group.

The same difficulties are found in defining the beginning of adulthood, which is normally determined by majority at 18. Successive economic crises have increased the hardships that young people face in gaining economic autonomy and independence, entering the workforce, and finding housing. Faced with these hazards, young adults have "zigzagging itineraries". The shifting nature of their pathways upsets traditional categories: "It seems that if we fail to regulate the place of young people, we push back the limits of their recognition as adults. This inability of our societies to manage the passage from childhood to adulthood could, in fact, constitute a new definition of adolescence.

In addition, there have been mutations in cultural models and references for three generations. The family is breaking down and recomposing itself, the father has lost his place as "Pater familias", the working mother has changed her role, which as a consequence upsets all the representations attached to gender difference. The educational model is no longer based on imposition but on negotiation, and we are witnessing the crisis of the school as a transmission authority. Without forgetting the increasingly strong individualization of society, globalization..."

Source : Les adolescents et la culture - Dans Cahiers de l'action 2013/1

The model is the backbone of our brains and our societies. Even our cells run on pattern.

RNA serves as a pattern for DNA, which duplicates it almost infinitely. For the template wears out and can die. When the telomeres of DNA strands shorten then we age...

"A telomere is a highly repetitive, and therefore a priori non-coding, region of DNA at the end of a chromosome. Each time a eukaryotic rod chromosome is replicated, during replication, which precedes mitosis (cell division), the DNA polymerase enzyme complex is unable to copy the last nucleotides: the absence of telomere would mean the rapid loss of genetic information necessary for cell function. However, recent work suggests that the repetitive DNA of telomeres may be transcribed into repetitive RNAs that play a role in stabilizing the telomere1. Telomere comes from the Greek telos, the end, and meros, part, thus the part at the end of DNA.

Telomeres shorten with age, inflammation, and stress."

Source: wikipedia:

Do patterns wear out to the point of death of their hosts yes, certainly when it comes to our bodies, but for societies, there is hope because we have the power to generate new patterns. Let's take our golfer's brain again.

"The infinitely repeating experience is a pattern in itself that will generate new patterns.

"Our brain knows how to predict

To master a new movement, the brain first estimates the input it should receive from the sensory system. The cerebellum then uses this prediction to calculate the difference between what the person intended to do and what he or she actually did...

Whatever this discovery confirms one of our intuitions: the sensation of the swing, felt at the end of the execution, is indeed one of the active elements of our learning... But our brain needs a model to know what to expect and to compare it with the sensation actually felt. Hence the importance of teaching, and of observing "high-level" players..."

Sources: "50 - Learning to move: our brain knows how to predict the unexpected" idem at the beginning of the article

Hope is still there.

Maybe not if our societies do anything at all. I can pretty well imagine that a vision or strategy is needed. The model here can be called a standard. Just as there is a norm of peace and a norm of war, or positive models and negative models. Creating positive norms or patterns is our responsibility and if we let it go then let us not complain if our world becomes unpleasant.

And, if you ask yourself the question of when do we stop following models? Well, never it seems to me, but we change them. The luck in all of this is that we are creative beings and therefore able to create new patterns.

Image source: Pixabay - TheDigialArtist

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