Graduation, the next generation and letting our kids find themselves
This week one of the front page articles in the NY Times was about private uptown schools and how much money parents are spending on tutors to get A's in every subject. The question that rings out to me is simple, is it the parents or the curriculum. Probably a bit of both. It continues to go full circle as many parents are determined that their kid gets into the best colleges in the country regardless of the kid. My guess is that they don't pay so much attention to the needs, desires and assets of the kid but more to just getting the As, getting into the best college and then see where the chips fall. The tutors can and do cost up to the same or more than the annual tuition. You can't help but wonder if the curriculum is so ridiculous for a 15 to 17 year old mind that they need to be handheld and tutored on a daily basis to get through the curriculum. One will never know but I'd be curious what percentage of kids in the elite schools of NYC receive tutoring a few times a week. The schools know damn well that tutors are abundant because kids getting Bs and below are asked to leave. I know that for a fact because many of those kids have shown up at our kids school where they totally excel.
Then on the front page of the Dining section, same day, there is an article on second and first generation immigrant children whose parents push them to be doctors, bankers and lawyers and go to the very best schools. They say one thing but inside the house practice something else. They are restaurant entrepreneurs who love what they do because their kids grow up in that environment. These kids who did go to some of the best schools in our country are coming back to take over the family businesses they love because in life you should love what you do, at least I think so.
An interesting take on both articles. I lean towards the second. Our kids have grown up in a house of entrepreneurs and so for them to grow up and do their own thing will not be surprising. Working for Goldman Sachs would be shocking. But we are believers in being happy and following your dreams to what turns you on. Pushing your kids to be something they aren't is terrible. They aren't you they are them. I do wonder about the next generation of kids who have been hand held each step of the way. I certainly met and read about many of those children reaching that college goal and then literally wondering who they are and having a complete change of mind and heart of where they are as they get off the train and take a pause.
Just to wrap these thoughts about, in the Sunday section of the NYTimes during graduation time they always post a few of the words spoken at graduation ceremonies across the country. Many of the speakers were so poignant and spot on but I thought that Anna Quindlen, a mother herself, spoke the words that talk to what I wrote about today. She spoke at Grinnell College in Iowa.
Here are a few quotes and for the full speech, which is fantastic, click here.
We’re now supposed to apologize to you because it seems that that’s no longer how it works, that you won’t inherit the SUV, which was way too big, or the McMansion that was way too big, or the corner office that was way too big. That you will not do better. But I suggest that this is a moment to consider what “doing better” really means.
If you are part of the first generation of Americans who genuinely see race and ethnicity as attributes, not stereotypes, will you not have done better than we did? If you are part of the first generation of Americans with a clear understanding that gay men and lesbians are entitled to be full citizens of this country with all its rights, will you not have done better than we did? If you are part of the first generation of Americans who assume women merit full equality instead of grudging acceptance, will you not have done better than we did? And on a more personal level, if you are part of the generation that ditches the 80-hour work week, and returns to a sane investment in your professional life, the first generation in which young women no longer agonize over how to balance work and family, and young men stop thinking they will balance work and family by getting married, won’t you have done better than we did?