On Purpose Before Twenty
by Adam J. Cox
Compelling new narrative about childhood priorities, adolescent angst and the work of schools
On Purpose Before Twenty was voted one of the “Best Courageous Books of 2014” by Parker J Palmer’s renowned Center for Courage & Renewal.
“Rich in ideas for teachers to read, consider and reflect upon as we consider today’s young learner -it’s a book of essays that just might help shift thinking about who it is we are teaching! Cox’s latest book considers how the upcoming generation will communicate differently. A kindred spirit, Cox believes in the power of reading, and the transformative potential of special books in the lives of young readers.”
-Linda Gibson-Langford, Journal of the School Library Association NSW
A fascinating and deeply moving account…His focus is on “life purposes” -or, as he puts it, work. It’s a powerful examination on..the impact of disrespecting work, viewing it as “necessary” but unworthy of high ideals. It goes well alongside Mike Rose’s Minds at Work.
–MacArthur Award recipient Deborah Meier, New York University Steinhardt School Senior Scholar, deborahmeier.com
For educators and general readers, this important, lively and readable book tells a different story of youth. Clinical psychologist Adam Cox – author of Boys of Few Words and No Mind Left Behind – draws upon clinical practice and groundbreaking global research to offer a compelling new narrative about childhood priorities, adolescent angst and the work of schools. He declares these topics to be worthy of serious consideration, and children as fascinating and complex as any other age group with respect to their attitudes and understanding of what a good and purposeful life implies.
Current social and economic trends reflect a time of deep transition in our personal values, career trajectories, and social imperatives. Young people’s lives are radically shifting in response to new technologies, politics, and changing environmental realities. Cox asserts it is critical to re-examine basic questions – What is living well? Why do we work? How do we find meaning and purpose in vocation? How do we raise and teach children to be effective citizens? What does best-selling literature tell us about how to raise kids?
Clearheaded, provocative, and compassionate, On Purpose Before Twenty presents a series of readable, practical essays: The Purpose of Work, Sovereign Minds, The Case for Boredom, On Monstrous Children, Being Harry Potter, and School as Wisdom Culture. It offers a roadmap for primary and secondary schools seeking to provide an education relevant to the concerns and priorities of youth.
The book asks ‘what are schools for?’, and discusses whether ADHD is the new normal. Most important, the book addresses how the next generation is radically different in terms of motivation, communication, and vocational perspectives. Cox suggests that knowing one’s purpose is as important as a good education and loving parents. His book echoes a fundamental belief that our serious regard for the potential of young people makes the world a more welcoming place for them. It is as much an essential form of stewardship as protecting forests, and creatures living on the brink of extinction.
On Purpose Before Twenty Resources:
Article: The American Scholar – Vocational Crisis
Slow down and take time to discover your life’s work
By Paula Marantz Cohen
“Psychologist Adam Cox begins his recent book, On Purpose Before Twenty, with the same understanding, writing: “The primary missing ingredient in the lives of young people—the opportunity that separates them from a sense of personal accomplishment, maturity, and resilience—is purposeful work.”
Love the book and want others in your community or school to learn more about how we can help youth find a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives? See an example of a School/Community Workshop based on On Purpose Before Twenty.