From former House speaker Newt Gingrich (emphasis is mine, paragraphing edited):
It's time to declare the end of adolescence. As a social institution, it's been a failure. The proof is all around us .... American students are learning at a frighteningly slower rate than Chinese and Indian students.
The solution is dramatic and unavoidable: We have to end adolescence as a social experiment. We tried it. It failed. It's time to move on. Returning to an earlier, more successful model of children rapidly assuming the roles and responsibilities of adults would yield enormous benefit to society.
Prior to the 19th century, it's fair to say that adolescence did not exist. Instead, there was virtually universal acceptance that puberty marked the transition from childhood to young adulthood. ... it was understood you were either a child or a young adult.
... Benjamin Franklin was an example of this kind of young adulthood. At age 13, Franklin finished school in Boston, was apprenticed to his brother, a printer and publisher, and moved immediately into adulthood.
John Quincy Adams attended Leiden University in Holland at 13 and at 14 was employed as secretary and interpreter by the American Ambassador to Russia. At 16 he was secretary to the U.S. delegation during the negotiations with Britain that ended the Revolution. ...
Adolescence was invented in the 19th century to enable middle-class families to keep their children out of sweatshops. But it has degenerated into a process of enforced boredom and age segregation that has produced one of the most destructive social arrangements in human history: consigning 13-year-old males to learning from 15-year-old males.
... By trapping poor people in bad schools, with no work opportunities and no culture of responsibility, we have left them in poverty, in gangs, in drugs, and in irresponsible sexual activity. ...
And for too many middle-class and wealthier young Americans, adolescence has been an excuse to delay work, family, and achievement—and thus contribute less to their own well-being and that of their communities.
... Fortunately, innovations in technology and in financial incentives to learn offer hope.
The Information Age makes it possible for young people to learn much faster than our current failed bureaucracies and obsolete curriculums permit. ...