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Backlash To Wussification Of The US Parent?

Backlash To Wussification Of The US Parent?

backlash

I really didn’t want to spend more time on the ‘Chinese Mother’ issue, but because it brought up some interesting issues in the comments on Monday I thought it warranted some more thought here. Mostly, I think that Amy Chua, the author of both the book and the article in the Wall Street Journal on the paradigm of the Chinese Mother (who isn’t actually Chinese) is trying to sell books. I also think she might be doing a disservice to her cultural heritage, because some of the things she is classifying as “Chinese” seem to be just instances of emotional abuse. I don’t necessarily disagree with having high hopes or expectations for your kids, or even forcing them to do things to a certain extent that they don’t want to do, but Chua’s descriptions are insane and cross the line. I have to think she’s either writing for effect (to sell books), or else she really does not get how abusive the stories she is telling might be interpreted to be).

I have been reading, off and on, Adam Corolla’s new book (also often offensive, but for totally different reasons), In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy, which together with Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother forms a kind of an odd couple parenting duo. Both books are representative of a cultural backlash to the overly precious parenting and educational trends that have been in cultural vogue in recent years in the United States, and although I am definitely not on board with many of the ideas espoused by either author, I certainly understand the impulse to write a book like this, because I have felt it myself.

Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Adam Corolla’s comedy, even if I sometimes think his lack of understanding of institutional structures of power is a liability that will keep anyone from actually taking any of the points he makes seriously. There are times when I have to stop reading his book, in fact, because his facile take on, say, how patriarchal expectations of female behavior affect a woman’s ability to advance in the corporate world, for example, makes me want to throw my Kindle at the wall. But then, his outrage over the wholesale banning of peanut butter from his child’s preschool, despite the fact that there is nobody with a peanut allergy at his child’s preschool, and his dissertation about the beauty of the peanut butter sandwich for the child’s lunch — the peanut butter sandwich being the only sandwich that, in fact, improves as it ages — this, this I get! There, he has me!

Because, yeah, it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all, right? Some kids are violently allergic to peanuts, and better safe than sorry, right? And somebody always knows somebody’s brother’s cousin who didn’t know they were allergic to peanuts, and then they one day ate a peanut and then bam! dead. Right there on the preschool floor. So why not just ban peanut butter?

Well, because, fuck. Mini doesn’t like sunflower butter. And none of the other kids are eating his sandwich anyway. And there aren’t any kids who are allergic to peanuts in his class anyway, and also, for god’s sake, what in the hell with the peanuts, when did this happen? Why is everyone allergic to peanuts all of a sudden? Somehow we are able to have grocery stores and restaurants in which peanuts are not banned and everything seems to be OK, but schools, forget it. Nothing to be done there.

Are there bigger tragedies in the world? Oh yes! Most definitely. But, there are like 8 foods Mini will eat, and you’ve banned one of them, and every day when I make his lunch, I think, “Damn, I wish I could make him a PB&J.” Another one of them is grapes — but only whole grapes. And guess who is not allowed to send whole grapes to school, lest the child choke? That’s right: even though I regularly feed Mini whole grapes at home, at school, he is not allowed to have whole grapes. And he won’t eat grapes cut up. Is it unreasonable that he won’t eat grapes cut up? Yes! You are preaching to the choir. But I am not about to force my child to eat something — maybe Amy Chua would do this, but I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet.

So every day, I think: “I wish I could make him a PB&J.” and “I wish I could send whole grapes.” Every damn day I think this. Over the course of years, the rage builds up.

So what I’m saying is: I get it. I get the impulse to come out with some kind of extreme parenting viewpoint just for the hell of it. I think that’s clear, what with some of the topics I’ve written on here — to just say, “I feed my kid Lunchables and I’m proud of it!” Because, let’s face it, bitches be crazy.

It’s just that I’m not sure that “backlash” is a winning parenting strategy.

Comments (49)

  1. Jan 12, 2011

    This is one of the reasons I love your blog, Anna. Because it gives me an immediate window into a world that, not being a parent, I might miss otherwise.
    And the whole “peanut ban,” WTF?? What about the kid who’s allergic to fish, or walnuts, or cats, for that matter? My friend’s daughter is allergic to onions, so she carries an Epi-pen.

  2. Jan 12, 2011

    it’s shit like the peanut butter ban that makes me seriously consider keeping my kids at home. it’s getting too oppressive out there, bitches. open a window already.

    And the Chau chick? It’s not okay to torture your kids. I don’t want my kids to be wildly successful if it means robbing them of their childhood and future happiness.

  3. Jan 12, 2011

    Fellow moms have recoiled in horror when I tell them that not only has my 2 y/o eaten peanut butter, she LOVES it. And I ate it while pregnant! Eggs, too! Even tried a shrimp or 2 – well cooked, of course. Real milk? She drinks it like there’s no tomorrow.

    I hate this bubblewrap-helicopter parenting bull. Hate, hate, hate… so much so that we’re thinking about homeschooling our kid so she can eat what she wants and learn properly – and even learn to fail occasionally. Just…grr.

  4. Lisa
    Jan 12, 2011

    Why IS everyone allergic to peanuts these days? Very good question. Also, what do those people eat, because everything has peanuts or was processed on equipment with peanuts.

    On the cut up grapes thing – I’m with Mini. The internal texture of grapes is kind of gross, so eating them with the gooey insides hanging out is a different experience than eating them whole with all the skin on.

    What happens if you send whole grapes? Do they take them away?

    I know several kids of Chinese parents and from I’ve heard, emotional abuse is the norm. I don’t think her classifying those things as “Chinese” is a gross misrepresentation. I am curious if her personal approach is unusual. The people I know don’t want to have kids, so I don’t know if they would apply the “Chinese” parenting style themselves or not. I lean towards no, because they all recognize how fucked up it is, but I wonder how much people really deviate from the parenting style with which they were raised.

  5. Jan 12, 2011

    Siiiiiigh. Okay, allow me to take the peanut butter bullet for y’all, as someone whose kid used to be anaphylactic to peanuts. Peanut butter is really sticky—I know, shocking!—and many (most?) who have a serious allergy to it are touch-sensitive. That’s why schools ban it. The two anaphylactic reactions my son had were both to contact, not ingestion. I get that most don’t understand this, but I do wish people would take the ten seconds to do a little Googling before declaring that there’s absolutely no reason no restrict it. And for the love of God, stop equating peanut allergy to things like cat allergy. It really is very serious, and this isn’t people helicopter parenting; this is people legitimately worried about the very real possibility of death.

    That said, I, personally, think peanut butter bans are a bad idea in schools. Peanut butter exists in the world. I think the onus is on the parent to teach the allergic kid to be cautious, and then on the school to have a containment plan (separate, peanut-free lunch tables; stringent cleaning processes; and constant vigilance). But the sad fact is that a school wanting to avoid a lawsuit may find a total ban preferable to actually taking responsibility. That’s… well, that’s a whole ‘nother conversation. (As is why peanut allergy is on the rise and tends to be so severe.)

    Sorry for highjacking your comments, Anna. I know this wasn’t the point of your (reasoned) post.

  6. Jan 12, 2011

    I totally get the backlash thing, because by the time I sent my third kid to preschool I couldn’t stop myself from eye-rolling about the peanut butter, the grapes, and all of the rest of it. I was like, “Just take my kid for a couple of hours so I can get some stuff done.” It was that simple for me with the third. I have to say, though, that once my kids entered a culturally diverse elementary school all of the hype about food, etc. died down a lot. So the overly protective parenting style may just be a trend in a certain demographic group in the U.S., or so it seems.

  7. Jan 12, 2011

    Ha ha ha I can just imagine Amy Chua now: you WILL eat the cut up grapes – you will eat ALL of them or no Christmas or Hanukkah presents for you – EVER!!

  8. Socks
    Jan 12, 2011

    The whole peanut thing just raises so many questions.

    But for some reason, the peanut allergy lobby is incredibly powerful and demonizes anyone who raises questions about the whole subject.

    I know the plural of anecdote is not data but I have personally seen three cases of wrong peanut allergy diagnosis. And I’m also curious about Mir’s kid who used to be anaphylactic to peanuts but isn’t anymore. Say, what??!

    I’m with Adam Carolla on this one. I’d love to see a proper poll on the subject.

  9. Jan 12, 2011

    That article has nothing to do with the Pussification of children. I agree, that some parents really need to cut the cords and make their kids harden the fuck up. However, in Tiger Cunt’s case, those girls are only pushed on subjects that matter to Chua’s bourgeois Ivy League faculty peer group. God forbid the girls be good at shooting hoops; what will the community think? Shit, if you need living accessories to impress your friends, breed and show Arabian horses or dogs or some bullshit activity. Don’t torture your children.

    I can’t wait until one of her kids shoots her in her sleep. I hope they blame it on Chamber Music instead of Metallica.

  10. Jan 12, 2011

    Also, my step son would not eat grapes that were cut in half. It drove me absolutely bonkers. I remember him being three and me trying to explain how ludicrous it was that he wouldn’t eat them, that they were the same as a whole grape, just different… He looked at me and said “I don’t like different.”

    How can you argue with that?

  11. Jan 12, 2011

    Socks, it’s estimated that about 20% of kids who are allergic to peanuts will outgrow their allergy. My son is one of the lucky ones—he passed a “peanut challenge” when he was 6, after five years of being anaphylactic to just touching the stuff. (FWIW, this rate is significantly lower than the “outgrow” rate on many other food allergies. I think it’s around something like 80% for dairy, for example.)

    Allergies are immune system misfirings. As the system matures, sometimes these problems are outgrown.

  12. Socks
    Jan 12, 2011

    Thanks, Mir. Can you please supply some links. And –at the risk of sounding snarky — not to Allergy Mommy or Peanut Mum, but maybe a medical journal.

    Even one that published false vaccine studies will do.

  13. Jan 12, 2011

    FWIW, I was deathly allergic to codeine as a child, but can take it now.

  14. Jan 12, 2011

    Also, if you google “Do people outgrow allergies” a ton of articles are available.

  15. Socks
    Jan 12, 2011

    Katy, I’m replying to your post below.

    I don’t want to wade through a million posts by Allergy Mommy to get to the good stuff. I want one authoritative article on outgrowing allergies by the Dean of Medicine at Harvard or Dr. House or some equally qualified expert.

  16. Socks
    Jan 12, 2011

    Threading issues. Don’t ask.

  17. Jan 12, 2011

    This is me, politely stifling my urge to link to “Let Me Google That For You.” 😉

    https://www.aaaai.org/media/statistics/allergy-statistics.asp#foodallergy

  18. Laura
    Jan 12, 2011

    *lime popsicle alert*
    Peanut allergies totally suck. TOTALLY SUCK. When my son was diagnosed 11 years ago (near death reaction to choco/peanut butter icecream at his one-year-old birthday party — that’s right I nearly killed my first born child on his birthday) we didn’t know anyone else on the planet with a peanut allergy. Today, there are THREE kids on my street with peanut allergies. What is going on with our food supply?
    Once he was old enough to understand his situation, the burden of the allergy was on him regarding making food choices. When he was nine years old, we moved to a school district where there was a peanut allergy death at the school in the nurse’s office. Going to school here is so hard for him. He has to sit at a separate table without his friends, some kids won’t have him over to their houses because their parents are freaked out about hurting him, we have to sign multiple waivers for activities, he can’t pursue the career he wants due to restrictions about food allergies, etc. I agree it is an inconvenience for non-peanut allergy families, but it’s really not much fun for us either. I have two younger children who are totally allergy free, so I can see both sides, but honestly, these types of conversations (and jokes about namby pamby peanut allergy nerdy kids) sting like a slap across the cheek. I’m not sure why I have such a strong mama bear reaction. It just hurts to see your little boy cry about something you have zero power to change.

  19. Jan 12, 2011

    I totally get the logic!! While I don’t understand extreme parenting in an abusive style, I have never understood the need to completely protect our children from the almighty Peanut. The Princess Fairy eats pnut butter, during kindergarten I had the worst time in the world getting her to eat something else because that is all she liked. I’m talking about lunch food here, not all food, she actually eats quite a wide variety. On to my point…

    We recently moved and today is her birthday, so she told the teacher at the school (new school) that it was her birthday and they argued with her and told her that her birthday isn’t until the 24th and wouldn’t sing happy birthday to her. How are you not going to believe the 7 year old????? WTF, these are the kind of people I worry about having children and now one of them is teaching my child, gack!!!!

  20. Totes sympathy on peanut allergies. I have a friend whose daughter passed out from anaphylactic shock while she was opening a tube of lotion for her hands while driving that had a small amount of PEANUT OIL on it. She already knew about the allergy, and the hospital was only a few blocks away, so all was well.

    But I dreamed of making homemade cupcakes to send in on birthdays. First they banned homemade goods. Then they banned cupcakes.

    RANT: I GET THE CHILDHOOD OBESITY EPIDEMIC BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE THESE KIDS ARE ALLOWED TO BRING COKES WITH HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP TO THE SAME ******* SCHOOL.

  21. Jan 13, 2011

    WHERE did all these peanut allergies come from?!? I wish I knew.

    I remember being offered peanut butter AND banana sandwiches in grade school (we lived in a rural area) and I hated them, so I always said no. A few weeks later a thoughtful lunch lady had made a plate of just peanut butter sandwiches just so me other kids (like me) could have a sandwich!

    I’ll be they don’t have lunch ladies like that anymore either…

  22. Jan 13, 2011

    Hmmmmmmm, just like this schools, this topic was hi-jacked by peanut allergies.

  23. Jan 13, 2011

    I think the peanut ban is partially a response to schools dealing with younger kids having so much chaos to deal with already — rather than deal with sorting through whether or not they have a peanut allergy kid from class to class, year to year, they just ban it altogether. Now, I can sort of understand it from the school’s perspective, because they are sick of dealing with whining parents, and their jobs are already so difficult. But it’s the parents that piss me off. Because if your kid is so violently allergic to peanuts, then maybe we need to take different precautions — maybe he needs to be trained not to go near anything with peanuts, maybe he needs to be super cautious, maybe he cannot even go to a school where there is a possibility of peanuts or peanut exposure, because if it is that bad, maybe living in the world is not possible for your kid, maybe he needs to live in a bubble and not be around other kids. Because where I’m from, kids like to eat peanut butter, and if you go to the park, you might run into a kid who eats peanut butter, and they might have played on some equipment with peanut butter.

    And if it’s NOT that serious, then somebody is making a big stink over something that is not that serious. Which pisses me off even more. I guess I just don’t like the group having to change in favor of the tiny minority. It’s one thing if you’re talking about a tiny minority being kicked around and abused, and somebody stands up and says, “Will nobody speak for the peanut allergy kids?!” But that’s not what has been going on here. What’s been going on here is that the peanut allergy kids are running the whole school district and the parents are looking around going, “Just who are these alleged peanut allergy kids, anyway?” and then they feel bad for even asking, because they are the jerks who want to kill the kids with the peanut butter.

  24. Jan 13, 2011

    Right, but then that’s not right either — I mean, keep your kids at home if you want. I’m not going to go all anti homeschooling except yes, I do think that homeschooling is a bit whackadoo. I mean I know that a lot of kids get great educations that way but they also miss out on a lot of what education is supposed to be, which is socialization and people skills and OTHER KIDS, and you know, NOT HAVING EVERYTHING CHANGING TO ACCOMMODATE YOUR PRECIOUS PONY NEEDS like, OH I DON’T KNOW, having everyone give up peanut butter for the one kid who might be allergic someday.

    I might homeschool my kid if I lived in a bad school district and couldn’t afford to send him to a good school, but other than that, I’d rather bitch and moan about the peanut bans just because I really think that homeschoolers are missing out on something. But I know many many people disagree with this.

  25. Jan 13, 2011

    See homeschooling rant above. Homeschooling is letting the terrorists win, IMO.

    I think Mini just refuses to be a helicopter parented child. He refuses to eat cut grapes, he refuses to eat sunflower butter, when I was pregnant I craved Diet Coke, tuna fish, sushi, soft cheese, deli meat — basically anything that was on the banned list.

  26. Jan 13, 2011

    Last year (when Mini was in the two year old class), if I sent in whole grapes (or even halved grapes, instead of quartered), I would get lectured or a note back about why they weren’t served to Mini. They said they adhered to the pediatric association guidelines for food until age 3, which said no whole grapes, even though Mini was 3 at the time, he was still in the two year old class so they wouldn’t serve them. Whatever.

    So this year, I figured we are done, right? No. I sent whole grapes in and, depending on who was in charge of lunch they sometimes would come back and sometimes not. Finally I talked to somebody and they said no, grapes still have to be cut, and not just halved, either, they have to be quartered, even though Mini is 3 1/2 now, and even though everybody is over 3 in the class. So no more grapes for Mini at school.

  27. Jan 13, 2011

    i don’t believe homeschooling and good socialization are mutually exclusive. i do believe it takes vigilance on the parents’ part to ensure this though. we’re on the fence about the school thing. my biggest frustration with it is most of the local groups are faith based. and we’re… well, heathens.

  28. Jan 13, 2011

    I know that peanut allergies are way more severe than other allergies, and I know that there’s a special issue with them as opposed to, say, something like onions or other nuts. My issue has always been that, as you say, these are kids who are going to exist in the world and who are presumably going to preschool because they want to be assimilated with the rest of the population. I hate the fact that we have to change everything to accommodate the one or two of them (or, in many cases, the hypothetical one or two of them) who are coming to preschool. And I think it’s the fault of overly demanding parents and an overly litigious culture. I understand why schools do it — they already have so many things to watch and they’re sick of stupid parents demanding dumb things from them. I worked as a teacher in a private elementary school, and let me tell you — parents are a big fat pain in the ass to deal with.

  29. Jan 13, 2011

    Aww, Laura, bringing up this issue is not meant to be a reflection on the kids who have the allergies. I know peanut allergies exist and are very serious! I would never make a joke about that — the problem for me is that the allergies are so serious that they’ve got everybody running scared from the problem to the point that they’re taking precautions to protect against them when they don’t even exist.

  30. Jan 13, 2011

    That’s probably true. My son’s preschool is culturally diverse but perhaps not socioeconomically diverse, and that probably has an effect on what policies they use.

  31. Jan 13, 2011

    Or, more like — what do you MEAN you are ALLERGIC to peanuts? You are just not trying hard enough to digest them!

  32. Jan 13, 2011

    Just adding to the outgrowing allergies anecdotes — Mini had a protein intolerance as a baby that made him incapable of digesting breastmilk or regular formula. He had to have a special kind of formula that had protein molecules that were somehow specially processed so he could digest them. After a year, he could drink regular milk and digest any kind of regular protein.

    Same thing with bananas — couldn’t eat them without throwing up & getting hives at 8 months, now he eats them all the time with no problem.

    Allergies are weird.

  33. Jan 13, 2011

    It’s true. That’s a tough one to argue, particularly with a three year old.

  34. Jan 13, 2011

    Well, that’s the thing — the peanut allergy is scary, and it’s a real danger. I have never disputed that part of it. But, this is the world. At what point do we have to say, “OK, kids, you are living in the world now, and you’re going to have to wing it.” You know? I mean, I just don’t get this culture of accommodation for one or two kids. It just does not make sense to me, even if the one or the two kids gets a bum deal — I am not saying they don’t — they do! Oh, they do! Just like I got a bum deal being an alcoholic and a depressive, though, you know? We all have our own bum deals, is what I’m saying — why are we changing school policies to accommodate them?

  35. Laura
    Jan 13, 2011

    Fuck, Anna, your kid’s only three years old. You have about a zillion more frustrating school system rules, regulations and general stupidity in front of you.
    Pace yourself 🙂
    (ps — cream cheese and grape jelly sandwiches on Wonder Bread are pretty awesome too)

  36. Jan 13, 2011

    Honestly, it has to be something about how many peanuts and peanut-related foods we eat, no? I mean nobody else has this problem. And nobody wants to talk about it, but whenever there is a problem like this, it’s usually an evolutionary thing that’s designed to keep us from overtaxing our resources — it’s usually population control. Not to sound completely heartless, but I’m thinking that’s what it is. I think that’s probably what HIV is, and what widespread depression is as well.

  37. Jan 13, 2011

    Well, I’m never banning peanuts from this blog, I don’t care how much pressure I get from the parents.

  38. Jan 13, 2011

    No shit.

    We were asked to stop using the word “booty” when my step-daughter was in Kindergarten. We used to sing “Shake your Booty” and should would do the deep voiced “Ooowwwww” part (it was really funny.) Well, she sang it at school, got in trouble and then WE got in trouble.

    *eyeroll*

  39. Jan 13, 2011

    Oh, I know! Fortunately, I also have tons of pent up rage, so it will all work out.

  40. Jan 13, 2011

    Mini already says “Shake your booty,” so I will anxiously anticipate the day that we get in trouble for that as well.

  41. Laura
    Jan 13, 2011

    I can see your point and here is why: A decade ago when NOBODY else seemed to have a peanut allergy, and there were zero food regulations, this is what we did:
    1. I kept snacks at school specifically for Ian. There were three boxes of Oreos in the closet in case of a classroom birthday or other celebration where the teacher was unsure of ingredients. Keep in mind, this was before the over-zealous labeling that is making our lives really, really difficult today.
    2. I attended all class parties and brought cupcakes from home that I knew were safe.
    3. If someone had a peanut butter sandwich next to him at lunch, he had permission to move to a different side of the table (there was no segregation and it wasn’t a huge deal.)
    4. I attended any field trips where food might come into play.
    5. We kept his allergy on the low-down for the most part so he wasn’t excluded.
    It worked pretty well for us at the time. It’s much, much harder now. You should see the stack of dr.’s forms I have to fill out for him to be able to show up at school the first day. I wish I had the answer, but as I (jokingly) said above, it’s another one of those parenting frustrations that has worn me down to surrender.

  42. Jan 13, 2011

    See, that would be better for the kid, too, I think. If a kid has an allergy like that, the parent has no choice — they HAVE to be on it constantly. They HAVE to be vigilant like that, because you just have to be. So why not just let that be the way to handle it? Why make the school deal with it and pass the responsibility/blame if something goes wrong like that? Fucking parents. It’s the fucking irresponsible parents every time.

  43. I don’t know. I really don’t. Fortunately the peanut thing has never come up here. But if a kid had the allergy and wanted a public education, it would have to be home tutoring provided by the school. Our schools refuse to consider stopping PBJ sandwiches. And then parents could sue b/c it wouldn’t be considered an equal education….and then if the kid had the allergy and attended regular school & died, the school would be sued. It’s a catch-22. I know my friend’s kid has attended regular schools armed with her allergy pen, but I don’t think her schools have allowed peanut butter.

    I sent my kids to a private Montessori school (very cheap here in SC) till 3rd grade. The headmistress refused to accept any student with ANY allergy. Period.

    I have a friend in Denver who says that the schools are open year round and that all the peanut allergy kids attend a special rotation during the weeks that the other kids are out. Wow.

    No answers here.

  44. Jan 13, 2011

    It is exactly how much we consume, Anna, yes. As our society gets “cleaner,” food allergies rise. The immune system is designed to fight germs, and without enough germs to fight, it gets bored and attacks things it shouldn’t.

    In every modern culture, the food allergy most prevalent is the most common protein-rich food. Right now in the U.S. it’s peanuts; it’s soy in Japan; cod in Norway; etc. (Hey Socks, can you Google that one or do you need me to give you a link?)

  45. Mia
    Jan 14, 2011

    Oh, I can’t speak to your particular situation, but as an elementary school teacher, I can tell you that 7 years old can be highly unreliable sources of any number of “facts”. I can’t even begin to enumerate the number of children who have told me they’re “moving, maybe tomorrow” (totally false) or “so-and-so is their cousin/auntie/uncle” (fabricated) or, even to get totally morbid, when I had a student whose older sister tragically and unexpectedly passed away, another child in the class came to school every day for two weeks, announcing the death of one or another nuclear and extended family members (never happened). Just saying. And I don’t at all think kids are LIARS or anything so manipulative, I just think they hear parts of things or misinterpret things, and those become facts in their minds. So, maybe the teachers should have been more humane, but also, you know, we’re dealing with quite a bit of nonsense, so our “look at me! look at me!” trackers can be off.

    Happy birthday to your daughter, by the way! 🙂

  46. Jan 14, 2011

    I am right there with you. I think even the weather is a way of dealing with population control.

  47. Jan 19, 2011

    Yes, but backlash seems to be par for the course when it comes to parental strategy cycles. First one extreme, then another, usually the opposite.

    Did you see the David Brooks piece yesterday on Amy Chua? Here’s a permalink: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/opinion/18brooks.html

    I really couldn’t figure out if he was kidding or not. It’s not his usual style at all.

  48. Jan 19, 2011

    I didn’t see it until somebody sent it to me this morning (thanks, J). I don’t think he was kidding — what he is saying is absolutely true. Group dynamics and succeeding while working with a group is far more difficult than it is to succeed on your own, and this is doubly true for people who are high academic achievers. I totally see his point — though I have read that Gen Y and younger have a much different experience with group work than older generations, so I don’t know if perhaps the studies he cites are biased in that sense. But having been a teenage girl myself, I absolutely think there is a point to be made that Chua is in fact sheltering her children from the most rigorous of learning experiences by not allowing them to do other kinds of activities that require them to succeed in group settings.

  49. Jan 19, 2011

    Ok, that makes sense that he might be citing studies involving Gen Y and younger. My own experience of working with groups K-12 was dismal and friends have told me similar stories. There was typically one person, the achiever, who got stuck doing all of the work. The rest were slackers and the teachers did nothing about it.

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