Could everything we know be re-learned by a new generation?

Fire. The Library Book by Susan Orlean is excellent.

The hospitalization rate for kids is really low, but I agree that small kids without siblings are going to be gone, gone, gone.

I teach English to kids now and things are really different than when I grew up in a large Mormon family back when cavemen walked around. Get off my lawn!

In Asia, kids are supposed to be focused on school to the exclusion of everything else. Many kids learn music instruments but only through the elementary school and they have to give it up for full time studying in middle school and high school. These kids would have very little survival skills.

When I was young, we had little homework and did more things such as scouting and such.

Most fathers could fix cars and many 12 to 16 year olds would be helping and the older ones of this range could fix them themselves. I had friends who bought beat up VW Bugs and fixed them up themselves.

That’s a dying skill, cars today can’t be fixed by the average person anymore.

In previous threads about life after catastrophes, it’s been pointed out that gasoline won’t last that long.

Manufacturing simply collapses. There are enough knives, pots and pans, clothes and guns for people to scavenge for decades but eventually things will get too old. Knives should be fine but I don’t know how long gunpowder can be used.

Solar panels will provide electricity for a while but there wouldn’t be replacement parts.

I also agree with the idea society would collapse. Taking care of children is time and energy intensive. Trying to take care of unrelated, traumatized preschoolers just isn’t going to be the norm, especially since the caregivers are traumatized kids themselves.

In parts of Asia. The parts where the kids aren’t sewing shoes or picking e-waste…

I don’t have the time to research industrial seeds (though I know Monsanto sues people, so anything they put in can’t work all that well) but I’m on my fourth generation of volunteer tomatoes and the third of volunteer squash, so the garden seeds you can buy don’t have any problems.

That assumes neighbor kids wouldn’t take care of them. I think they will.

The way we do it now is time intensive, but 200 years ago kids didn’t get nearly as much attention. Assuming that the age cohorts are equal in size, one 15 year old can easily take care of 20 ten year olds. No testing, no paperwork.

Like most of them? Never play library when you were a kid? Kids check out books at school libraries all the time, even if public libraries were automated. At 10 I knew how they worked pretty well, and at 18 1/2 I took over as Librarian for one of the largest sf libraries in the world. I could have done it easily two or three years earlier. I started recording and indexing my books at 16.
You must know some really dumb kids.

I hope this link works. In the middle of this picture is a banana plantation (farm? grove?) and in the middle of that is an entirely derelict house that originally belonged to my great-great grandfather. It was last lived in by my great-grandparents sometime before 1980. My grandmother told me that she was saddened to see its deplorable state in 1989. I visited in 2016 and poked around for a bit. (The distant cousin my grandmother sold it to still owns it and I had her permission). The roof is partially missing. There are are banana trees growing in the kitchen. It has no locking doors and has been almost entirely looted. There are empty wine and beer bottles everywhere. In it, I found my grandparents’ wedding photo (ca. 1945) still hanging on the wall, and still in very good shape. There were books on shelves that certainly appeared readable but, since I don’t speak Portuguese, I didn’t look too closely. I have a hard time believing every printed technical manual that exists today will be gone within 10 years of the apocalypse.

When I was a kid, many moons ago, yes. But this recent thread
https://boards.straightdope.com/t/without-saying-your-age-whats-something-from-your-childhood-that-a-younger-person-wouldnt-understand/
says today it is no longer the case. Library catalogues are mentioned at least four times, and I did not post it myself.
BTW: The question was a little longer than what you replied to, but never mind.
And no, I know no dumb kids. I know nobody younger than 40. Really.

I suspect many Dopers were precocious, and although it would take time to learn new skills, the documentation would make a big difference. Almost any skill or procedure one might use exists in web tutorial form. Most university courses that were traditionally taught made the switch to web-based because Covid. Sure, no one can learn everything. But people will always follow their interests, and trial-and-error will continue to work well. Yes, there would be problems while these skills are developed, and I have no idea how long this knowledge recovery might take. If the reason for this rather artificial scenario involved disrupting existing infrastructure than this changes the answer. But if that was okay somehow for long enough, I do not see why most things apart from some advanced research would not be relearned eventually given enough time.

I deal with high schoolers every day.

The Earth is doomed.

Now I understand. Kids, some of them, many of them, are a lot smarter than you might think if you don’t know them. I won’t talk about my brilliant five-year old grandson, but a 16 year old girl joined our writers’ group, and she can not only write well, but is very together about planning her future. There are plenty of kids like her.

Recall the bumper sticker “My kid beats up your honor student.”

So in an collapse, the question becomes who gets to say what the remaining group will do, and how the remaining resources will be allocated. We can hope that the isolated groups of teenage society adopt a “small town meeting” form of government.

But I’ve seen “small government” situations like this where the reins are seized by people who are great at machinations to put themselves in power, terrible at getting needed things done.

I don’t see where the OP said “all the adults and the precocious kids disappear”

I can’t even imagine how adults would reorganize their societal affairs, let alone kids. Maybe some would offer bursts of genius and creativity that would recognise past mistakes but I fear that all too many would just go all Negan on the rest.

I doubt you understand, I think you have rather pigeon holed me, but never mind. The fact hat you only selectively answer to the parts of my posts that suit you and ignore the rest is more irritating. When I write

you just center around the first line. How will kids prevent the important books from being stolen? That has driven saintly monks to despair, and your smart kiddies will find the solution? I don’t think so. Nor do I believe they would be able to decide who to lend the books to. The bully will grab them, steal them, and won’t be able to use them. That is what bullies do when no grown up is around to stop them.

I’ve known bullies, they don’t take books unless its just to show you they can control you. Generally you get them back when they are done tormeting you.

At 16 I lived in the library. I could see building my own collection of books and guns. Reading books about booby traps and frontier survial would occupy my time between getting dinner and girls. Oganizing a new world order, not so much at 16 but maybe after a few years if I survived

You said you didn’t talk to anyone under 40. Given what is on TV, I totally get that anyone who doesn’t know kids would think the OPs situation would lead to having them go back to the Stone Age.
I haven’t read the thread you mentioned and it is too long for me to read now, so I didn’t respond because I didn’t think I could say anything intelligent about it.
As for stealing books, where are they going to sell them? And why steal the useful ones. Each kid could get all the books they want, including ones with dirty bits.
There are definitely going to be libraries which burn down, there are going to be communities which devolve into chaos, but I think there will be enough communities who get it together to preserve our knowledge, mostly.

They would gather books only for heating fuel.

Anything could be relearned as long as it was in a YouTube how-to video. Anything only found in books? Forget it.

But there are a lot of YouTube videos. For medicine, I doubt there are many things a doctor would need to know to conduct a physical exam (for example) which are not available in that format. I bet there are thousands of videos showing pilots’ tricks of the trade or many other technical subjects. Yes, it would take further time and experience and be flawed in some ways, fail sometimes, and require trial and error. But it would still be better than what was taught a century ago.

This isn’t starting from scratch at all. Sure, most people would not want to do so and so. But the ones that do would presumably be as driven and directed as they are now.

One of these is written by the voice of experience and the other is a utopian fantasy. Which is which is an exercise left to the reader.

While @Voyager knows one brilliant 16-year-old, those of us whose professions are educators of this age of children have worked with thousands of children and adolescents. Who has a clearer perspective?

I have taught kids whose maturity puts most adults to shame. Kids who went on to elite universities. But it’s not the outliers who will define society, but the average.

All of this is really irrelevant. Society would collapse, manufacturing stops, systems become unusable, motorized transportation ends and the infrastructure starts to crumble. Without modern medicine, illness again becomes more prevalent.

The question of survivability of small child really doesn’t matter either. It doesn’t matter if the population plummets by 90% or 95%.

The focus on 16-year-olds also misses the point that these kids will become adults far sooner than anything can be done by society to utilize any books.

Almost nothing in my field is on YouTube videos. True, it is a bit erudite for an after the disaster situation, but textbooks would work much better.
YouTube is great for procedures, better than books. But I think it might be tough to learn anatomy only from YouTube.
However, if the scenario in the OP did not allow any electronic resources to be available, then they would be totally screwed, since a lot of stuff is only electronic these days, like most manuals.

If our society was at the level of the average person, we’d be more screwed than we are now. Society has always been driven by the leaders.
I know lots of teachers, none of whom think the kids are quite as awful as some of you seem to.
As General Turgidson said, it’s not like we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. Kids with significant illnesses are going to die. But kids of that age are healthier by far than people of my age. I pretty much never went to the doctor from age 14 right through grad school.
Sure manufacturing will stop, but there will be a surplus of goods so who cares? Need a chair, go into the next house which is now empty to get one. Of course a system without manufacturing or motorized transportation couldn’t carry our current population, but it wouldn’t have to.
And I’m assuming that kids don’t die when they turn 17, so I don’t understand your last point. If they do die at 17 the population would drop to near zero soon enough and no one would have time to learn.