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Parenting Skillz

[ 55 ] June 30, 2008 |

Is pretty obvious that writing this article for a national audience makes you kind of a dick, but does this parenting seem likely to accomplish its intended goals?

“My twins never had the same view of high school that I did. Through ninth grade I’d pressed them relentlessly about their class work. But as much as I yelled, as much as I grounded them, they did not become the top students their older brother and younger sister are. I don’t know how to explain it. They’re smart. They’d been in gifted programs. They just weren’t interested.”

Wow, you mean constantly yelling at your kids and putting maximum pressure on them to be just like you ended up being alienating? I’m shocked! Maybe parents out there will disagree, but this outcome seems pretty predictable to me.

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  1. djw says:

    True, Matt, but I bet the effect is slightly less dramatic for grad programs a notch or two down from Pitt philosophy (isn’t Pitt generally considered top 5?).
    For me personally, I suspect I might not have gone into academia had I gone to an Ivy or top-tier SLAC (although if I had I probably would have been slightly better prepared for grad school). While more useful contacts and preparation would have been open to me, I think my confidence that I could actually do this might have suffered from being surrounded by people as smart or smarter and better prepared than I. Furthermore, the class politics of those kinds of places can be pretty alienating.

  2. john says:

    I think it’s fun to think about the idea that any decision made differently could have resulted in a totally different life – maybe better, maybe worse. But there’s no way to ever know!

  3. djw says:

    I dunno, Aimai, in the world I live in being affable, handsome, charming and socially adept is probably a better predictor of future success than having good study habits (especially if you’re male, white, and upper middle class).

  4. djw says:

    IIRC, the study also showed that student athletes who graduated but with poor grades went on to as much success (especially in business) as high achieving students–they’re just more likely to have the personality for it.

  5. The Politzanian Citizenry says:

    The author of the column is an idiot.
    Allow us to demonstrate. First, he laments the twin’s lack of academic acheivement, and writes:
    “I dont know how to explain it.”
    Seven words later, he writes:
    “They just werent interested.”
    Duh. Consider it explained.
    And he’s an education columnist? I guess he’s sort of the Tom Friedman of education. If only the twins had had six more months of school…
    .

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