The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Friday, June 17, 2005

Icelandic system [iys - lan' - deik sys' - tum] n.
(also teen circulation plan)

A practice, supposedly based on childrearing methods in medieval Iceland, of sending teenagers to live with other families, in order to learn adult skills and behavior from grownups they have not yet learned to manipulate and despise. A version of the Icelandic system, the foreign student exchange, had long been employed by frustrated parents, but the practice went native and exploded in popularity with the publication in 2023 of Britney-Penelope Leach's bestselling advice manual, A Fresh Start: Why Other Parents Can Raise Your Impossible Teen -- And Why You Should Let Them. Leach noted that away from their parents adolescents were typically friendly, polite, curious and altruistic; it was only at home they became resentful and histrionic "typical teenagers." She proposed placing teens with new families to give them a less cathected but still affectionate and protective adult-child relationship focussed on the gradual assumption of adulthood. The federally funded Domestic Yourh Exchange now enrolls approximately 50% of high-school juniors and seniors and is credited with significatnly lowering juvenile crime, drug use, pregnancy, depression, rudeness, and TV-watching.

Katha Pollitt, The Future Dictionary of America.