Educators. Students. Community members. Much more unites us than divides us, particularly knowing we all wear multiple hats. Building relationships. Thinking BIG.
Challenging and supporting one another. Developing engaged, empathetic citizens. Please join me in pondering how best to nurture these common ground connections.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"I'd Rather Be a Wolf Than a Tiger" Follow-Up

The fall-out from Amy Chua's book is a bit over-the-top. There's a combination of genius (perhaps on Chua's agent's part?) and insanity (public reaction?) threaded through this whole conversation. I admit I've been pulled in, but more as an educator than a mother. And today I read a column in the New York Times by David Brooks that made me smile. The title, Amy Chua is a Wimp, certainly caught my attention, but it wasn't the only thing that made me chuckle. In fact it was the intriguing twist he took in comparison to the other, more angry reviews. Here are my favorite quotes from the article. Remember that Brooks is making these statements to a Yale professor and "Chinese mother."

1. "I believe she’s coddling her children." (Whoa! Bet she's never heard that before!)
2. "I just wish [Chua] wasn’t so soft and indulgent." (Or this!)
3. "[Chua] doesn’t understand what’s cognitively difficult and what isn’t." (Not what a Yale professor usually hears, I'll bet.)
4. "[Practicing music for four hours] nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with fourteen-year-old girls." (Oh, don't I know it! No truer words have ever been spoken.)
5. "Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale." (I've never been to Yale, but I do know that these scenarios were far more challenging than the science courses I took at U of I!)
6. "Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood." Wow! It would be important for educators to notice this, too.
7. "I wish [Chua] recognized that in some important ways the school cafeteria is more intellectually demanding than the library." (I remember this challenge very clearly. NOT fun!)

On a more serious note, it is these types of statements—along with others from his article—that support the notion that educators should be focused on the whole child. Our curriculum can help with these social challenges, as well as become a bit more relevant to the type of collaborative, connected, process-oriented lives our children lead.

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