Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Amazing Girl Clarifications

1. I don't think I was quite right when I said that we were Amazing Girls. One of the points the article made was that these girls think they are as capable as boys, indeed, are capable of anything. That's what was true about us. We weren't, however, the kind of multi-dimensional achievers these girls are--largely because we didn't have to be. I can't remember a single extra-curricular activity I did, after 9th grade when I played soccer and had a bit part in the play. C was on the soccer team and played in the jazz band and edited the yearbook. Lucy? R? I can't remember, but whatever they did, it wasn't much. Mainly we did homework, hung out with our friends, and partied. Summers? We worked and vacationed--plus more hanging out with our friends and partying. No community service trips, no volunteering, no nothing. And where did we go to college? The schools that those girls are scrambling to get into. It was a different era, that's for sure.

2. I think, given the tenor of some of the comments, that I may not have been clear enough. I do not want a pressured existence for my children; that's why we didn't move to Another Municipality. But I question the equation between intellectually engaging, or even, dare I say it, challenging, and pressured. My point was about the content of the curriculum, not the relentless demands of the achievement-oriented upper-class school, whether it be public or private. What I was lamenting was the fact that a high-level liberal arts curriculum (which should include science and technology along with literature and philosophy, not to mention the arts) seems to be primarily the purview of the Daltons and Newton Norths of the world, which means that it is inevitably coupled with high pressure, but I would like to imagine that it doesn't have to be that way, and I wish that in opting out of high pressure for my children, I didn't also have to opt out of...well, let's just say, for shorthand's sake, Descartes.

1 comment:

Libby said...

I get your points, Becca. And as the parent of a 17 year old girl, this stuff hits home to me. I think (I think!) I had that challenging, but not pressured, high school existence that you want for your girls. I don't know if you could get it at my former high school now, though, because the college admissions game has become so much more competitive. Then again. My daughter isn't reading Rawls or Decartes, but she is doing some pretty cool stuff nonetheless. (And she does actually talk about stuff like that at home, around the dinner table--there are educational experiences outside of school, after all.) And she is, as we were, working and hanging out in the summers, not doing volunteer work. We'll see how it all turns out, but I have the sense that these articles (and there are many of them, every year) are, like the "mommy myth" ones, dealing with a very privileged population and not really representative of much. The fact that they are about our perceived demographic (and I noticed that Esther's parents are a professor & a social worker, which makes me wonder how THEY are affording NN) makes us feel some stake in them, but I'm not sure we should. Still, I cannot look away.