It has definitely changed the way I raise my children. My daughter and my elder son are both equally smart and they are both equally good students, but it is obvious that the things that school requires of you as a student these days come more naturally to her than they do to him. These are things outside of academic achievements, like sitting still, focusing, organizing yourself, getting yourself together for a project, doing these long verbal reports. They can both do them, but it is more of a struggle for him than it is for her.
A mom once told me, “Given the way school is these days, we all have to be our son’s secretary.” When she said that, I thought, I don’t want to be my son’s secretary. I don’t want his wife to have to be his secretary. We want him to be as independent as possible.
I feel like there are three ways that one can respond. The first way is to try and change him. The other option is to try to change the schools, which a lot of people do. But the middle ground I struck was to try and cultivate his own inner secretary. I set up a chart for him that tells him what he needs to do everyday. It will say, bring your P.E. bag, and don’t forget your lunch. Do this and do that. He has to check the chart everyday. If he forgets his lunch, he forgets his lunch, and it’s too bad, rather than me haranguing him on every single detail of his life. That is the way of meeting the world halfway, giving him the tools so he can meet the world as it is as best as he can without completely bending his nature or the nature of the world.
This interview series focuses on big thinkers. Without knowing whom I will interview next, only that he or she will be a big thinker in their field, what question do you have for my next interview subject?
Can women fit the genius mold? We all know women can succeed within institutions and in school and sort of check the boxes in the workplace, but do women fit the out-of-the-box mold? Can you imagine a female Bill Gates, someone who works outside the institution, drops out of work, completely follows her own rhythm? That is the kind of woman that seems next on the landscape. And can that be a woman?
From my last interviewee, Alain de Botton, founder of the School of Life in London and proponent of bibliotherapy: What is wrong with the world, and what are you trying to do about it?
I think we are so fixed in our ways of thinking about gender dynamics. I am trying to get people to acknowledge what is happening right now and to respond to the world as it is, as opposed to how they think it is. I think that is the very first step of changing anything about our American workforce, about marriage relations, about the decline of marriage and children being raised alone.