|Professor Chua and her children|
Into this situation strides confident, lecturing Amy Chua, Yale Law professor and the anti-Christ to a generation of indulgent, guilt-ridden American parents.
I am often accused of being hard on children. I am consequence driven and patient and hard enough to outlast most of their histrionics. Much of what Professor Chua laid out seemed to me to be common sense, and yet, I came away with a nagging sense that something was missing. I now know what it is.
Joy. While I'm sure Ms. Chua's kids have acceptable instances of joy in their largely regimented lives, I find her prescription to be one designed--implicitly or explicitly--to destroy many of the joy-making opportunities to which children in America are routinely exposed. Is a sleepover really evil? Is a playdate really going to knock the little one off her rise to Julliard or MIT?
Ms Chua's plan seems perfectly suited to producing human equivalents of racing greyhounds--performance bred beings for whom larger social structures are ill-suited, and who ultimately find little place of comfort outside the realm of competence for which they were trained. I'm sure Professor Chua's little girls are wonderful creatures. But how different they must now feel from the world in which they live--with little prospect for that ever to change.
I see at work here something I see in the home schooling movement, or at least among some of its adherents--and that is, disdain for the larger culture and an impulse to isolate from it in order not to be infected by it. I don't like this.
Additionally, while I criticize our society for its over-indulgence in the artificial propping of the self-esteem of children, Professor Chua's approach seems equally out of proportion, but in favor of parents--as in, the job of the children is to perfectly reflect the wonder and insight of such effective parents. Her article drips with the sense that her sense of self will somehow be lessened if one of her children comes in second place, or that she would somehow have dishonored her parents had she wound up in pharmaceutical sales rather than as a Yale Law professor.
Aristotle got it right 2300 years ago when he described The Golden Mean as the desirable middle between two extremes. Professor Chua has done us all a service by describing one such extreme.