by Michael Leppert

I am dissatisfied with the misuse of the word “peer” to be synonymous with one who is equal to another in age. The word “peer” originally meant equal in rank — lumping age into that definition came much later and is purely the result of institutional schools.

When do adults ever find themselves grouped together on the basis of age? In the U.S. Constitution if we are accused of committing a crime, we are guaranteed a trial by a jury of our peers. Does anyone confuse that to mean a jury of people who are the same age as the defendant? I don’t think so.

Then, why is this error of thought and terminology made with children? Your child’s peers are not those of his age — s/he may be much more or less emotionally mature than another person of like age, may be more/less intellectually or physically developed, etc.

This inaccurate usage has given rise to “peer pressure” i.e. pressure exerted by children of like age — which is even further removed from sensibility! I consider the practice of misusing the word “peer” in such a way to be the direct result of school thinking, inaccurate and unhelpful in all ways. MjL