Education Leads to Immaturity

Jennifer Viegas in Serious Study: Immaturity Levels Rising (Discovery News) writes on the increasing phenomenon of psychological neoteny, a state of remaining immature and retaining childlike behaviors. The article quotes Bruce Charlton, the theory's creator and a professor in the School of Biology at the University of Newcastle:

“By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people," he said.

"People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”

Charlton added that since modern cultures now favor cognitive flexibility, “immature” people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone not only for contemporary life, but also for the future, when it is possible our genes may even change as a result of the psychological shift.

The faults of youth are retained along with the virtues, he believes. These include short attention span, sensation and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.

Cognitive flexibility goes hand-in-hand with immaturity? Perhaps the converse would be true, too: Maturity goes together with cognitive stubbornness. I wonder if I can increase my cognitive flexibility by working at becoming more immature. What does this mean with respect to school curricula and to learning?