How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough (Review)

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Paul Tough writes an interesting book on teaching kids to succeed. How Children Succeed is based on the idea that character often determines how children cope with the world, and that there are ways adults can best teach children the character traits that will enable them to do well in the world. Tough focuses on the poorest and neediest children in his interviews, but he also talks about how wealthy kids face the same issues on a lesser scale. His thesis is that character traits are often more important than IQ, and that having the “character” to strive and work will often make a person successful

There were two parts of the book that I found particularly interesting.

The first was the focus on “grit” and self-control, and how sheer persistance can pay off. Tough primarily references the work of Angela Duckworth, who happens to be Chinese American and who just won the 2013 MacArthur Genius Grant for her work. He brings up the KIPP schools as a study in character, and how teachers can teach children to become resilient and strong. He notes where KIPP succeeded and where KIPP failed, and he analyzes how the administrators are working to improve. Tough focuses on optimism and how optimism can power a person’s drive through prolonged tasks and goals. He recommended a book called Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, which I want to check out.

The second interesting part was actually the most interesting for me, since my kid is invested in chess. It was the chapter on How to Think, where Tough focuses on an inner city school which has the best chess team in the country (it is the same school profiled in Brooklyn Castle). His interview with Elizabeth Spiegel was extremely interesting, as she tells him how she manages to teach kids a sport in which the instruction focuses mostly on mistakes. I’ve always found it hard to be optimistic while focusing on mistakes, and I was pleasantly surprised how Tough and Spiegel covered this topic. We always need to improve, but sometimes it’s hard to get children into the mindset of improving their shortcomings, especially in this day and age where adults tend to coddle kids.

Tough did a good job on picking this topic as a means of exploring how to think. But although he brings up some powerful ideas for teaching kids how to think in a chess game, I thought the explanation was incomplete. For example, he says quotes studies that say that top chess players never consider less promising moves (p. 138), or that good players tend to be more pessimistic on their moves. From p 140:

In a word, they were more pessimistic. When the novices found a move they liked, they tended to fall prey to confirmation bias, to see only the was that it could lead to success, ignoring possible pitfalls; the Eeyore-like experts, by contrast were more likely to see terrible outcomes lurking around every corner.

What Tough didn’t uncover is that chess is like boxing. There are different styles that tend to tend to lean towards one of two sides on a continuum: there are aggressive styles of chess, as well as defensive styles. Capablanca and Karpov were defensive players, relying on their ability to play cautiously and to slowly creep their pieces forward, taking up space until their opponents were forced to make a bad move. On the other side, Kasparov and Fischer were attacking players, who often threw caution to the wind with bold sacrifices and attacks against their opponent’s king. I’ve read interviews with attacking grandmasters about how many moves they think ahead, and from what I can garner, they mostly think four or five moves only. They often don’t know whether there is a guaranteed win when they start the sacrificing attack, but they have a good feeling that things will turn out well. Certainly they also assess the risks before attacking, but most novices do as well. I think novices tend to be more pessimistic than experts. Indeed, as International GM Yasser Seirawan says in one of his books, most novices don’t see queen sacrifices because they are not in the habit of considering moves that could lose their queen. I bring this up mostly because I think both strategies are important when moving from school to work. Certainly being overcautious isn’t a bad thing when it comes to schoolwork, but overcautious people are less likely to invent life changing technologies or start new businesses.

Overall, I think people will find this book interesting. If you have kids or are working in education, you’ll find this book interesting. Check it out.

109 thoughts on “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough (Review)

  1. I think AMs need to use that “grit” and sheer persistence to go IR. the overly cautious ones stay with AFs mostly. Time to “throw caution to the wind” and attack.

  2. Thanks, Sengge!

    This is a good book, and I don’t want to see it get derailed into an IR thread.

  3. ugh…I just typed a comment and it didn’t go thru. =( so quick recap:
    bww – wanted to recommend
    1) The Childhood roots of Adult happiness.

    2) The Nuture ASsumption by Judith Rich Harris. – which not only reviews how “child-rearing” actually works, but gives lots of examples on the immigrant experience and how the Asian identity and categorization affects academic development independent of child’s IQ. This book will have you rethink how much direct influence parents actually have over their kids.

  4. Speaking of grit and being tough, sometimes I am most thankful to be an AM because it gives me an opportunity to seriously change an entire demographic’s image. Think about it. We really have nowhere to go but up, and even the smallest victories are actually quite meaningful. For example, just going to a party, being the only Asian guy there and being awesome probably means that you’re breaking a lot of stereotypes. Maybe you even changed someone’s mind that night. Few other demographics enjoy this kind of opportunity, to give power and meaning to even the smallest and most everyday things.

    It’s quite empowering if you think about it.

  5. ^ Thats a good outlook. The flip side is that one might feel pressured to be an ambassador for your race.

    Recently, coming late to a meeting I sat in the back … suddenly realized I am the only non-White in the group.

  6. “For example, just going to a party, being the only Asian guy there and being awesome probably means that you’re breaking a lot of stereotypes. Maybe you even changed someone’s mind that night. Few other demographics enjoy this kind of opportunity, to give power and meaning to even the smallest and most everyday things”.

    Only if one is extroverted, charismatic and a good speaker. And yet you speak of my idea that AMs should become campus tour guides is not a good one.

  7. John Doe said: The flip side is that one might feel pressured to be an ambassador for your race.

    If you can take the pressure, then I think it’s a blessing.

    So many people want to be an ambassador for something when they have nothing to say. That’s why you have upper middle class white people trying to co-opt the struggles of POC in order to have something meaningful to say. That’s why you see some AFs who desperately want to cast their IR relationships with white men as something Groundbreaking and Profound™, even though Aunties Tan and Kingston were doing the exact same thing decades ago.

  8. @Pozhal,

    “For example, just going to a party, being the only Asian guy there and being awesome probably means that you’re breaking a lot of stereotypes. Maybe you even changed someone’s mind that night. Few other demographics enjoy this kind of opportunity, to give power and meaning to even the smallest and most everyday things.”

    I agree with what you said. A Chinese college girl once told me that Asian girls in college are more risk taking (socially) than Asian guys, it is not uncommon for an Asian girl going to party alone, but Asian guys rarely do that. I don’t know if this is true or not. But if Asian guys get out of their comfort zones more often , it will help themselves a lot.

  9. “I agree with what you said. A Chinese college girl once told me that Asian girls in college are more risk taking (socially) than Asian guys, it is not uncommon for an Asian girl going to party alone, but Asian guys rarely do that”.

    There are many Asian women who are campus tour guides in the colleges. I haven’t seen an Asian guy yet.

  10. ChineseMom said: I agree with what you said. A Chinese college girl once told me that Asian girls in college are more risk taking (socially) than Asian guys, it is not uncommon for an Asian girl going to party alone, but Asian guys rarely do that. I don’t know if this is true or not. But if Asian guys get out of their comfort zones more often , it will help themselves a lot.

    Asian girls are better able to take that “risk” because they are pretty confident that they’ll be well received by white people of the opposite gender.

    Kids aren’t dummies. As they progress through from elementary school, they can easily sense it when their company is welcome. Asian girls, from an early age, know about how white guys like them and use it to their social advantage. Asian guys, conversely, can sense that unless they’re truly exceptional, they’re not welcome in white social circles.

    So please, let’s stop this nonsense about Asian women being braver or something. If they were so brave, perhaps they’d stick up publicly for Asian men more often instead of laughing along with the majority.

  11. Linda,

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’m currently reading another child rearing book, which I’ll review in the next week or two. It’s about raising children to deal with affluence. We’re of course not affluent, but it’s very interesting, and us po’ folk can benefit from what the book teaches.

  12. Pozhal,

    How did this become a gender/IR topic? It’s got nothing to do with that!

    But okay…let’s say people really want to talk about IR on a post that has nothing to do with IR. Let’s try to make this relevant: how do you teach grit to your kids?

  13. BigWowo,

    When we talk about teaching young Asian kids how to “succeed”, what do you think we’re talking about? Asian kids aren’t struggling to get into good high school and colleges. They’re not having trouble becoming professionals.

    Where Asian Americans face a huge deficit is in social and cultural capital. And a big part of social and cultural capital is trying to elevate ourselves from being on the bottom rung of the social ladder, of which romantic relationships are a big part.

  14. “And a big part of social and cultural capital is trying to elevate ourselves from being on the bottom rung of the social ladder, of which romantic relationships are a big part. – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-239226

    Any ideas on how a child, teenager or parent could address or handle the matter?

    Also, it may be that Asian children are not shown the possibility of having grit in social situations and other settings that require sustained human interaction.

  15. -Show them positive Asian media where the men are heroes, get the girls, the women fawn over Asian guys, the Asian families have a great life together, etc

    -Point out the racist shit they’ll encounter before it comes up. Explain to them why our eye shapes are the way that they are, debunk the racist lies before their minds are poisoned.

    -Point out propaganda like Joy luck club, madame butterfly, Miss Saigon, etc etc etc….

    -Give them a heavily censored Asian history lesson (leave the full details for later on when they’re strong enough to handle all the darkness)

    -Partake in cultural festivals

    -Teach them your native tongue language

    -Teach them lessons from strategist, Sun Tzu, and show them how to apply it in life.

    -Enroll them in practical, not just artsy fartsy, martial arts.

    -Debunk religion so they’ll never get brainwashed into supporting another white power structure. I know this is an unpopular opinion as some of you are religious, but here are just SOME questions that none of your religious leaders will ever answer…shouldn’t you be suspicious?

    ● Why does the vast majority of the world live in abject poverty? Where’s god to help them?

    ● Why do churches need your donation? Shouldn’t they just pray to their almighty god and get instant funds? In fact, why don’t they just pray for world peace and get that instantly too?

    ● Why won’t god heal amputees. Not one “miracle” EVER.

    Before you say, it’s satan’s work. According to various religions, their god = the most powerful being, ever. satan is weaker than god. Therefore, god made satan and allows satan to do these things.

    No matter how you look at it, it’s just screams “scam”. The only thing you can really take away from religion is the golden rule and to be a decent human being.

  16. ^ None of the above would necessarily instil in the child the ability to persevere through hardship or to push on alone, or even impart the Will to survive and succeed.

  17. Yun Xu,

    Those are all great ideas in theory, but you have to remember that 2 Asian parents stand very little chance against an entire society that will bombard Asian kids that being Asian is uncool and backwards. I think the most likely scenario is that kids will resent their parents for trying to “hold them back”.

    When I was very young, I was pretty hyper-nationalistic about Korea due to my parents. But as I got a bit older, I began to really dislike my Korean heritage, especially since I blamed Korean culture for a lot of my parents’ flaws. It wasn’t until I was into my 20s that I began to really appreciate who I was and how the deck had been stacked against my parents from the very start.

    I was lucky enough to “see the light”, so to speak. I don’t think everybody else has the same opportunity though.

    It’s a tricky situation for sure. But since kids will inevitably rebel against parents, the advocates of Asianness can’t solely be coming from the parents.

  18. So what can we do to impart in children the ability to persevere through hardship (outside only academia and STEM), to learn from mistakes and failures and to not fear them, to have confidence enough to push on alone, and the Willpower to survive, endure and triumph over what others cannot?

  19. I have learned very recently that it is actually common knowledge in some circles that safe, stable childhood environments are more likely to build into children resilience in adults than a life of danger and uncertainty.

    Something to do with being lulled and duped into thinking that the universe is a safe place and so hardships are temporary in nature and can be overcome, if I understand it correctly.

    But that’s not necessarily true. It is more that the universe is apathetic. Hardship is temporal in nature, just like our own existences. The only certainty you can truly have is that the moment you stop fighting, you automatically lose.

  20. @pozhal
    “But as I got a bit older, I began to really dislike my Korean heritage…. how the deck had been stacked against my parents from the very start.”

    Not to poke at a wound, but elaborate and perhaps we can find something that can be used to help upcoming Asians. What did you dislike and most importantly, how did you come around?

    Btw, this is why I recommended exposing the propoganda, lies, etc.

    @sengge
    “The universe is apathetic. Hardship is temporal in nature, just like our own existences. The only certainty you can truly have is that the moment you stop fighting, you automatically lose.”

    Thanks for that uplifting quote. I’m going to hang this above my desk as a motivational poster featuring a hippo with its mammoth jaws swung open and charging at an out-of-breath villager.

  21. Yun Xu said: Not to poke at a wound, but elaborate and perhaps we can find something that can be used to help upcoming Asians. What did you dislike and most importantly, how did you come around?

    I don’t want to get too personal with the details, but I felt that my dad was a bad masculine role model and my mom was a joyless complainer. I thought that it was their fault that they couldn’t fit into the society around them.

    My parents moved back to the “old country,” and they’ve become quite happier since, which has made me see them in a new light. I also simply matured and realized that being Asian wasn’t something that I had to overcome, but rather, embrace. I mostly hung out with White people in college and that didn’t give me any particular satisfaction.

  22. @Pozhal,
    You are probably right in saying that Asian girls in college”are pretty confident that they’ll be well received by white people of the opposite gender”. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think Asian girls are more accepted than Asian boys from elementary school to high school, and Asian girls don’t get much date in high school. In middle school and high school, Asian girls may be doing a little bit better than Asian boys socially, but their popularity are below average like Asian boys in general. It seems to me that something happened in college that make Asian girls get out of their shell and they are better received, this in turn boosts their confidence, so it makes a positive reinforcement cycle.

    @big,

    Sorry, this may sound like talking about IR, but I’m more focus on young children’s personality development point of view.

  23. ChineseMom,

    Even if those girls aren’t popular in high school, they are probably still aware that American society doesn’t think that they’re repugnant and unattractive due to their race. If they’re not going to parties and not getting dates, it’s due to parental restrictions as opposed to social rejection, which may explain why they come out of their shell in the freer atmosphere of a college campus.

  24. @Big,

    Sorry to get back to you on this so late.

    I read reviews on Amazon. I don’t think what said in the book is new to me. Don’t we already know that IQ and good test scores aren’t good enough for success? In Chinese, we say characters decide the fate.

    Regarding teaching “grit” or “hard working” to my kids, I had thought about this many years ago and concluded that I can’t teach them this in this country and this environment. Asian immigrants may seem work hard and have grit, it is because we need to survive, we have to work hard, and the money that we are paid is satisfying compare to what we get in homeland. Also, we don’t have much social life and other distractions here, the only things that we know and can do are to study and to work. There are plenty of people back in Asia don’t have grit and don’t work hard.

    It is hard for a person to make great effort and work hard on something he doesn’t like for long time, it is will be stressful. On the other hand, if he works on something he like and passionate about, it may seem that he work hard to other people, but to him, he’s just having fun.

    A lot of Asian kids seem can work hard on their school work, don’t you think that part of the reason is that they don’t have much social life and other fun to distract them? This benefit them, but also has price attached to it.

    So, I think it is more important to help kids to find their passion and purpose in life. I only can teach my kids grit and hard working after they find their interest and want to succeed in that area. My son like his sports now, he learned the value of grit, works hard to train himself without me pushing him. He is doing well on his academic, but only do the minimum on subjects that he doesn’t like, and always complains if the work is harder for him to do.

  25. Pozhal,

    I wonder if you were aware what American society thinks of Asian men. None of my kids know or think much about that. My son dated a couple of popular White girls when he was in middle school, one of them even got obsessed with him, the other one rejected an upper class white boy to go out with him. There were also several girls had crush on him. On the other hand, my daughter has never dated any one so far, even though she is a very pretty girl and goes to all the parties that she can.

    I don’t think that not going to parties or parental restrictions are the reasons that Asian girls don’t get dates in high school. It is more due to their personality, same for Asian boys.

  26. Pozhal,

    It should be “I wonder if you were aware what American society thinks of Asian men and women when you were in high school”.

  27. ChineseMom,

    You can’t just keep bringing up your kids as if they’re some kind of solid proof.

    Just look at the same old stories you encounter time and time again on the internet when these topics are discussed. It’s almost always about how Asian guys feel ostracized or desexualized starting in high school, and how Asian girls feel way too sexualized or fetishized by everybody. You rarely ever hear of Asian women complaining about how too many Asian men think they’re too good and popular for Asian women, while you hear lots of stories about the reverse.

    What is more likely, that this is some cosmic and massive conspiracy, or that we live in a world where AFs are more socially valued by American society than AMs?

  28. Well, I’d say you guys should be asking Chinesemom about what her kids’ circumstances are, and what they are doing to have that success. If her kids can do it in those circumstances, there’s no reason that others’ in similar circumstances won’t be able to.

  29. Raguel,

    “Grit. Let’s stay on topic.”

    Right on. But you do know how human babies are born naturally right? So King’s Goldilocks zone must cover a expansive region.

  30. @ Chinese MomRegarding teaching “grit” or “hard working” to my kids, I had thought about this many years ago and concluded that I can’t teach them this in this country and this environment. Asian immigrants may seem work hard and have grit, it is because we need to survive, we have to work hard, and the money that we are paid is satisfying compare to what we get in homeland.

    I agree. Grit means different things in different environments. The kind of personal strength I have to employ as an adult now living in my own country is vastly different to what I had to do, when I was living in the US. However, I weathered the challenges in the US better because I was coming from an environment where infrastructure was pretty much non-existent; and life in the States was more “comfortable” for me. Hard work now meant something else entirely that my American classmates did not understand. I remember having an argument in class because I said that my classmates ought to be grateful for a classroom and not having to take classes under a tree or having 300 students to a professor and having to pay for limited seats in the classroom. I was of course told to go back to my country and I retorted that I would…and some other unsavory things. But hey, I was new and did not understand why they were complaining.
    So, hard work means something else here. That might not work for all offspring of every immigrant community.

    To others:
    I think that is why people on this thread are gravitating towards IR because the grit the children now need is not related to for example, how to complete your assignment by the light of lantern; how to avoid being married off before a certain age, how to stretch $200 as a family when you have three siblings and you all need textbooks…etc.
    Yes, there are economic disparities in any immigrant community but compared to where these communities originated from, a lot of these issues are solved within the US (in my opinion)

    So, my question is, why do you need grit? I am understanding grit as like some levels of aggression.
    What are you fighting for? Why do you need to fight? Why do you think you need to fight? Aggression, makes you a bully at some point.
    If you think you NEED social acceptance by the Caucasian majority, you are not going to get it. I would rather strengthen within the community of minority and define grit within its parameters.
    If you use Nigerians as an example, we pretty much party together and live around one another. Many Nigerian-American families define success, achievement etc by traditional measurements as would be expected “at home”.
    They socialise “as needed” with the larger American community and keep to themselves. And as a result, the average Nigerian-American child does have an innate sense of confidence from “a strong history”(being Nigerian) and “a bright-full-of-possibilities” future (being American). And they pursue goals with that mindset.
    That is what also sets them apart from calling themselves “African American”.

    There has to be some way to inculcate that in Asian American children without thinking of how they would date up, out and all over the place. Or how this limits them. I find that the American consciousness is to make the most popular in the class at the top, and the most intelligent (bookworm) at the bottom. Celebrating socialising above academic achievement.
    I always thought this was stupid because those who run the system are the intelligent academics who keep the status quo to make the pretty-preppy-ones think they are more important and in control.
    I say, if the average Asian American kid is somehow, able to dominate academically, make that the child’s grit…

    @Big: I don’t like parenting books. No, I don’t have kids but I wouldn’t use them if I did beyond understanding first aid with growing children.

  31. @Catwalq,
    “So, my question is, why do you need grit? I am understanding grit as like some levels of aggression. – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-240460

    As I understand grit, its perseverance. No matter where you are in the world, most people have to struggle to get to their goal whatever it maybe. Some goals might be unrealistic and putting those aside, if you can persevere then you would probably succeed. I would put grit/perseverance pretty high as a desirable quality in a person.

  32. Some of you may find this interesting. Angela Duckworth (whom Paul Tough references at length) gives a TED talk on grit:

    She sees “grit” as a form of motivation. She says “grit” is “passion and perseverance for very long term goals.”

    I think that’s essentially how she sees it. How do you stay motivated and not give up?

    I’m not sure it’s applicable to IR at all. I don’t know if one can apply concepts of hard work and motivation to flirting or meeting women. If I’m not mistaken, lazy people are just as good as that as hardworking people. If you really wanted to apply some kind of work to that area, I still think ChineseMom has it right when she says,

    I think it is more important to help kids to find their passion and purpose in life. I only can teach my kids grit and hard working after they find their interest and want to succeed in that area. – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-240218

    This might entail challenging our views of what we deem successful.

  33. i’m a bit skeptical on how the study Angela did measured “grit” among the students…

    I’d like to know which peer groups the grittiest students according to her study belonged to. Which peer groups they saw themselves as and which ones they were put into by their fellow students and teachers.

    If you want your child to succeed, make sure they are friends and hang out with the “successful” kids, that they think they belong w/ that group.
    The biggest motivator for kids is to be like the rest of the kids in their “group” vs other groups. So if this group happens to be kids that has a positive stance on school and studying, then the kid will adopt that stance too.

    And I think that’s why so many AA’s do well in school, relative to let’s say blacks or hispanics. Not that AA’s actually have higher IQ’s or whatever, OR b/c of tiger parenting. But all AA’s of my generation – it was a big thing, an expected thing to go to college, and an IVY league for that matter, and then some type of grad/med/law school afterwards. Your status went up if you got good grades, perfect SAT’s, got into an IVY, etc etc… And kids want high status in their group.
    I saw myself as part of that AA group. Other students saw me as part of the AA group simply b/c of course, I was Asian. I didn’t want to NOT fit in my peer group and be the retarded AA. I didn’t want to be THAT AA. I didn’t want ppl to say “oh, Linda, the Korean girl that didn’t get into college and has no job?!”

    Regards to many black American students (not black immigrants) …. In many schools, kids group themselves according to race. (kids can have multiple groups, but one of them will be race, whether they like it or not, since other kids will group that kid anyways). It’s been shown that in schools where the majority of black students aren’t doing academically well (likely b/c in this group, their identity is NOT to be a nerd), and if a lot of the upper level classes are full of white students. A black student doesn’t want to stand out from his group and end up being in all classes with white students. If the other black students see him studying, they will tease him and say he’s “acting white.” If this black student wants to have status with his group and stay w/ his group, he will choose not to study, b/c doing well in school is not part of his group’s identity. Conforming to your peer group is strongest throughout childhood and up till highschool. This is one of the strongest motivators of why a kid does anything.

    HOW a kid does things – 1/2 can be attributed to genes. And Angela doesn’t mention genetics….which has an influence in many people’s traits.

  34. If you want your young asian daughter to succeed, make sure she has enough grit and perseverance to attain the goal of owning a double-barreled surname like Angela Lee Duckworth

  35. Another thread diluted by the inane ad hominem antics of Raguel the idiot Rinchen. Raguel you fucker.

  36. Yep, just waiting for the status quo boys to jump all over on my comment,and scream racism, ignorant as to why what I said is actually completely on topic.

  37. Inane ad hominem antics? You mean like, making a one-liner remark about a person’s actual real life name (as opposed to a generic anonymous internet one) and how that has an implication on their message of grit and perseverance, because I have nothing else to contribute to the discussion?

    Gee, you’re right. It’s terrible, I deserve to be punished. Please mock and ridicule me mercilessly.

    *Cries and throws tantrum*

  38. I don’t understand why Byron just lets you carry on like the infant that you are. Yet for the rest of us, he writes an entire thread condemning us as 2nd class. You are a pedantic little bitch, Sengge Rinachan.

  39. You’re trying your utmost best to derail this thread, aren’t you? Sorry, not going to bite. 😀

  40. Why would IIIII want to derail a thread, moron? I support anything pro-Asian American experience. You and all the other possible white-boy hegemonists out there are the ones who have an agenda, fucktard.

  41. I have a young son whose turning 1 soon.

    He has lots of grit, determination, and persistence. He tries to crawl toward the edge of the bed where he might fall off. I pull him back by his legs. He crawls to the edge again. We do this for like 50 or 60 times. He don’t give up.

    When he falls and hurts himself, he cry a little but not for long. Then he moves on to find another way to get into trouble.

    He eats well, sleeps well, shits profusely, and has the cool, bossy, presumptuous demeanor of a middle aged man. He is bigger and heavierthan babies twice his age.

    He’s already a chick magnet. Women young and old and in between, strangers and acquaintances, of all races flock to look at greet and fondle my son wherever he goes.

    When he was newborn me and my wife did lots of “kangaroo care”. That is when you hold the baby via skin to skin contact for many hours. Sounds stupid but it has many benefits that profoundly impact the baby in unseen ways. Securing a sense of psychological security and mental well being is one of them. The outcome is that the child is more secure, more confident, less prone to cry, is less afraid when engaging people, better able to play by themselves, and develops better physically. We see these effects in our child.

  42. Haha! So THAT’s why we haven’t seen much of kobukson lately!

    Congratulations kobukson! Glad to hear of your marriage and child 🙂 I’m sure it is an experience that changes one’s view of the world.

  43. 🙂 Has it been a year already? Wow, time flies. I don’t think I’ve said this on the blog, so I’ll say it now: Congratulations!

    I think you guys have the right idea about kangaroo care. That mental well-being and security will help give your son the emotional fortitude to deal with life when life gets tough. I think that was one of the points about grit that Tough talks about.

  44. Linda,

    Great point!

    Actually, that was one of the reasons that Tough’s interviewees identify is the reason behind the initial failure of KIPP. Inner city kids would thrive off the support and peer culture of KIPP, and then they would go outside of KIPP and fail. Which means that it really is harder for inner city kids. They probably need an extra pound of grit because they don’t have the peer group to push them along and tell them not to be “that” kid.

  45. Debunk religion so they’ll never get brainwashed into supporting another white power structure. I know this is an unpopular opinion as some of you are religious, but here are just SOME questions that none of your religious leaders will ever answer…shouldn’t you be suspicious?

    By “religion” i presume you mean Christianity. I guess you never heard of the black church or know who MLK was or what impact faith and spirituality had on the civil rights movement. It is a highly ignorant statement. From a global perspective much of the non white peoples especially in the third world make up Christianity today. In fsct many “white countries” are secular and atheist. Im always amused when someone claims to be anti white power based upon reasoning that is in itself very white centric. Why dont you also reject much of modern science as well, since that was mostly the work of whites since Newton? Why are you communicatiing in English? Isnt that a “white” language? Are you an atheist? That was pioneered by white people. Last I checked Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins were whites.

    Why does the vast majority of the world live in abject poverty? Where’s god to help them?

    Because this is a fallen world we live in. There is enough food and resources on Earth to meet everyones needs. But Man established ideologies and economic systems which are imperfect based on greed and corruption. Why doesnt God do something? Well he did actualy. But usually when God intervenes in the affairs of Man to wipe out sin and corruption it involves destruction so you need to be a little more thoughtful about the questions you ask. In fact, that will be part of the “final fix”, if you will.

    Why do churches need your donation? Shouldn’t they just pray to their almighty god and get instant funds? In fact, why don’t they just pray for world peace and get that instantly too?

    Dumb question. Because churches, like any other organization, use things like electricity or water and these things cost money. If there is a building that costs money. Nothing is free in this world, right? God does not make money mirsculously materialuze for his followers because not only would that be a disservice for his followers (they will become lazy) but it will devalue the money supply, cause hyper inflation, and probably wreck the economy. In fact, in God’s economy theres no such thing as money.

    ● Why won’t god heal amputees. Not one “miracle” EVER.

    If such miracles were a daily occurances they would no longer br miracles. They would be called “laws of nature”. Forget healing. Explain why we have such things as DNA and consciousness in a universe tbat tend tsoward entropy in fifty words or less.

  46. “By “religion” i presume you mean Christianity.”
    1. No, all religions.

    “I guess you never heard of the black church or know who MLK was or what impact
    faith and spirituality had on the civil rights movement.”

    2. irrelevant. Religion doesn’t give us morals. Common sense does. Even if you believe morals comes from a higher power, what makes you think that higher power is a war criminal who will send you to hell for not “believing” and kissing his ass?

    For the same reason, it is reason and self-preservation that sparked their fight. Spirituality is an accessory not mandatory.

    “It is a highly ignorant statement. From a global perspective much of the non white peoples especially in the third world make up Christianity today.”

    3. This is so fucking hilarious I could cry if I didn’t pity you. Religion was IMPOSED on these people after whites invaded, massacred, mass raped, plundered, and enslaved them.

    “In fsct many “white countries” are secular and atheist.”

    You mean like the Uk, usa, and canada? I realize parts of Europe are atheist. Ever notice how much more PEACEFUL they are?

    Try again…

    “Why dont you also reject much of modern science as well, since that was mostly the work of whites since Newton? Why are you communicatiing in English? Isnt that a “white” language? Are you an atheist? That was pioneered by white people.”
    +
    “Last I checked Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins were whites.”

    4. You have managed to cram more retarded in this paragraph than I’ve seen across this entire site.

    You now mix up my attack on religion with the rest of white achievement. That makes no sense.

    Where’s the proof? There are nations that are largely atheist such as China and Japan. They believe in Buddhism which is a far cry from being saved by a bearded guy.

    “Why does the vast majority of the world live in abject poverty? Where’s god to help them?” and your reply “”Because this is a fallen world we live in.””

    You are impossibly ignorant about history and reality. Read some REAL history. Not the white washed half truths that your schools label history. For example, guns/germs/steel by jared diamond states whites rule the world because they found them first. No, China had all three but was mostly peaceful to foreign nations and they sailed to the “americas” numerous times before columbus was born.

    I’ll make it quick for you. There are haves and there are have-nots in the world. Their relationship in inverse. The haves take from the have-nots and they love it that way. You could argue about innovation making life better. I agree, but it does not change the fact that their relationship in general is that of a mugger and muggee.

    “There is enough food and resources on Earth to meet everyones needs. But Man established ideologies and economic systems which are imperfect based on greed and corruption. Why doesnt God do something? Well he did actualy. But usually when God intervenes in the affairs of Man to wipe out sin and corruption it involves destruction so you need to be a little more thoughtful about the questions you ask. In fact, that will be part of the “final fix”, if you will.”

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! do you even read your own nonsense before posting?

    I will walk you through your moron logic for you..

    1. there is widespread chaos and destruction
    2. god could stop all of this without any more destruction because….wait for it… HE’S OMNIPOTENT…meaning he can do whatever the fuck he dreams of.
    3. …but god chooses not to because, apparently, he is limited to earth-bound physics that by definition, he should transcend.

    “Dumb question. Because churches, like any other organization, use things like electricity or water and these things cost money. If there is a building that costs money. Nothing is free in this world, right? God does not make money mirsculously materialuze for his followers because not only would that be a disservice for his followers (they will become lazy) but it will devalue the money supply, cause hyper inflation, and probably wreck the economy. In fact, in God’s economy theres no such thing as money.”

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you are a moron of the highest degree.

    The question is rhetorical and yet your answer proves to me and anyone else with an ounce of brain cells why I can’t take religion and its followers seriously.

    The whole point of the question is that all the world’s problems would be solved if your god actually existed and acted the way you claim that he/she does. The fact that the world is completely fucked and will be forever (until some super bright mind finds an unbreakable way to prosperity and peace) means one of two things
    1. god exists and he doesn’t give a fuck. In fact, he designed this exactly the way he wanted to torture us.
    2. god doesn’t exist.

    So, he’s either
    1.) a world class fucking asshole or 2.) non-existent.

    “If such miracles were a daily occurances they would no longer br miracles. They would be called “laws of nature”. Forget healing. Explain why we have such things as DNA and consciousness in a universe tbat tend tsoward entropy in fifty words or less.”

    See the above explanation. I can’t waste anymore time on you.

  47. Kobukson, don’t worry about it. You’ll be a great father. I think that the one thing you’ll definitely provide to your son is the sense of certainty and belonging somwhere, and that may be strong enough to let him find a great purpose.

    When are you trying for another kid? Only childs are often lonely and then spoilt, you know. :p

  48. sengge rinchen have you told Kobukson that you have since changed from your old screenname of Raguel the Sufferer.

  49. “You mean like the Uk, usa, and canada? I realize parts of Europe are atheist. Ever notice how much more PEACEFUL they are?”

    You mean like the Nazi’s? Or Stalin’s great Soviet purges? I’m sorry, but Atheists have no better track record than do religious regimes. In fact, one could argue that Atheists were even worse in the past century.

  50. I found a much better reply than I can give

    “In the Global Peace Index, there’s a lot of Muslim counties at the bottom, Christian countries tend to be in the middle and athiest countries tend to be at the top of the ranks. Not every country fits that order but they tend to be that way.

    You’re right that correlation doesn’t show causality however we have some pretty damning facts to consider…

    … Holy books claim absolute morality and demand adherence.
    … They also prescribe death and violence as solutions for common human behaviour like homosexuality, promiscuity, adultery, graven images, gathering sticks on the wrong day of the week etc.
    … They depict gods as violent and vengeful… And moral.
    … They condone/prescribe genital mutilation of children.
    … They create a psychological construct that this life hardly matters in comparison to an eternity of bliss or torture.

    There’s also the damning fact that these so called systems of morality certainly don’t show up as better than having no religious system at all!

    If we had a new “morality drug”, we would have to show some sort of moral improvement before we can issue its release. These religions don’t even have a placebo effect!! … At BEST they don’t do any harm, at worst it looks like they tune people out from their basic humanity.”

    To understand the facts fully though would require a lot more investigation because peace levels also depends heavily on education, economic security, etc. Suffice to say, those who believe in fairytales are less likely to seek knowledge and reason. As a result, their societies will be more likely a backwards and underdeveloped, and as a result of that, it’ll suffer instability, and finally, the chaos that ensued is “defended” by the commandments of their “god”.

    Just look at muslims calling out to their allah all day for handouts instead of doing anything. This is one of the reasons Chinese run Indonesia. They don’t waste time praying. They’re doing stuff while the religious Indonesians are loafing around and calling to allah.

    Instead of learning from the Chinese path to prosperity, they hate on them, kill, and gang rape them over the decades in various riots.

    Just because you can pull a few exceptions does not invalidate what is essentially a reality.

    Religions have been used to justify all kinds of crimes from slavery, stoning, being burnt at the stake, book burnings, invasions, rapes, “honor” killings, etc.

  51. Just a quick correction, the Chinese do not run Indonesia. Political families with links to the military under the Suharto era do, and the Chinese function only like the court Jews used to in Europe. You could do a quick check now, apart from some re-energised human rights campaigning beginning in 1998 the majority of Indonesian Chinese are completely politically apathetic and docile because they have been so effectively neutered by decades hate crimes such as mass murder and mass gang rape used as a tool of the state, abetted by the international community.

    Abettors and instigators during the Suharto era such as Prabowo and Wiranto still possess considerable influence locally and internationally, apart from the pace of reforms, little has changed in terms of the pool of main actors in the island archipelago.

  52. Sorry, I had meant run as in control a disproportionate amount of its economy
    from wiki…
    “In a 1995 study published by the East Asia Analytical Unit of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, approximately 73 percent of the market capitalization value of publicly listed companies (excluding foreign and state-owned companies) were owned by Chinese Indonesians. Additionally, they owned 68 percent of the top 300 conglomerates and nine of the top ten private sector groups at the end of 1993.[115] This figure propagated the general belief that ethnic Chinese—then estimated at 3 percent of the population—controlled 70 percent of the economy.[116][117][118] Although the accuracy of this figure was disputed, it was evident that a wealth disparity existed along ethnic boundaries”

  53. Yun Xu, when you look at market ownership in any country in Asia, you cannot make the distinction between state owned companies and public listed companies.

  54. @ Yun Xu:

    Have you ever considered what your views on Indonesia sound like?

    “This is one of the reasons Chinese run Indonesia. They don’t waste time praying. They’re doing stuff while the religious Indonesians are loafing around and calling to allah.

    Instead of learning from the Chinese path to prosperity, they hate on them, kill, and gang rape them over the decades in various riots.”

    If I said this:

    “This is one of the reasons whites run America and not black people. They don’t waste time praying. They’re doing stuff while the religious blacks are loafing around and calling to God.
    Instead of learning from the white path to prosperity, they hate on them, kill, and gang rape them over the decades in various riots.”

    … people would call me a fucking racist and you know what, they’d probably be right.
    I’m not trying to say that America and Indonesia are the same at all, and I’m not going to deny for a second that the Chinese in Indonesia are economically very successful, or that they have been the victims of ethnic cleansing. But you seem to think Indonesians have nothing to do all day but lazing around hating Chinese people. You should check your prejudice.

  55. @sengge
    I’m slow on this one. Why is that important?

    @eurasian

    You are right. I’ll make an effort in softening my writing. I know it’s a terrible habit. I tend not to put “in general” disclaimers but rather I imply it (extremely poorly). The observation from those in Indonesia is that it’s quite often true though – not always but enough to point out why the Chinese tend to rise faster economically.

  56. It is important because superficial analysis and presentations such as what you made, then quoted gives a false and inaccurate picture of what actually goes on, and this can have consequences for people living there. For example, on what basis should there be a distinction made between market capitalization of publicly listed and privately owned business when state run enterprises are owned by elite dynasties in control of the military, police forces and criminal networks, and these same state run companies are given monopolistic positions in key sectors of the economy from which all enterprise in said country is subordinated to/flows through?

    There is also the matter of how much money is unaccounted for and does not appear on the public books because of networks created to supply slush funds.

    Even worse, casual onlookers will make easy but inaccurate conflations by incorrect attribution of cause and effect and this furthers the web of cover ups and conspiracy, such as occurs in Indonesia.

    I’ll give you a direct example: your assertion that religion was responsible for the targeted massacre and targeted mass rapes and casual brutality meted out to the ethnic Chinese that spanned decades is something that will appeal to certain parties for the ease of explanation (e.g, the Christian right, ignorant Sino-supremacists, angry atheists). But this would be very far from the truth. The attacks are painted as based on religious lines, when a closer examination may reveal that they were very well coordinated, even to the extent of being traceable back to a certain point of time, where racial propaganda actually appeared through the span and depth of the entire archipelago. So instead of looking at who the actors and actual perpetrators could be, people end up clinging to false attributions such as the “wealth disparity” and then now the religion Islam, and this in short facilitates a cover up.

  57. “Just look at muslims calling out to their allah all day for handouts instead of doing anything. This is one of the reasons Chinese run Indonesia. They don’t waste time praying. They’re doing stuff while the religious Indonesians are loafing around and calling to allah.”

    This is an extremely, grossly inaccurate on several levels. “Indonesia” is a regional-political entity of a multitude of ethnic groups spanning the archipelago. There is not a homogenous group of “Indonesians” that can be so easily and handily contrasted against another ethnic group. Cultural and religious norms can differ radically just one island away from each other, which is often the case. There are entire regions where Indonesians are Buddhists and Christians, and places where the Chinese have wealth and others where they’ve made almost no impact.

    That’s the first strike. The typing of behavior is also extremely offensive. The poverty and lack of development that many Indonesians are subjected to can be directly attributed to several specific factors rather than the general moral deficit your statement implies. This is the second strike.

    The third strike is that your characterization of the ethnic Chinese, a race much maligned and slandered in Indonesia, also lacks the depth and sensitivity they deserve after having been subjected to sustained racial (via the rapes, murders and closure of businesses) and cultural elimination (proscriptions on language and expansion of social and political influence, elimination of historical footprint) as intense as what the Jews in Europe had been forced to go through.

    You can’t look at a few rich and politically apathetic consumerist lucky bastards and conclude they’ve done well. They have suffered and lost so much than to deserve some kind of divorced-from-reality triumphalism when they have won so little yet, including their own right to exist in a land they’ve helped to build for centuries.

    “You are right. I’ll make an effort in softening my writing. I know it’s a terrible habit. I tend not to put “in general” disclaimers but rather I imply it (extremely poorly). The observation from those in Indonesia is that it’s quite often true though – not always but enough to point out why the Chinese tend to rise faster economically.”

    This has nothing to do with how politically correct your depiction is, but calls into question the reliability of your entire assertion. The credibility of your source, if you even have one, comes into doubt.

  58. @Yun Xu,

    “Just look at muslims calling out to their allah all day for handouts instead of doing anything. This is one of the reasons Chinese run Indonesia. They don’t waste time praying. They’re doing stuff while the religious Indonesians are loafing around and calling to allah. – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-243161

    This is more than likely inaccurate, and offensive as well. There is no reason to be racist while pointing out racism. Its highly unlikely every Indonesian is a lazy bum anymore than every Chinese being a hard working achiever. Its like saying any Black men off the street can be an NBA player and an Asian American a STEM overachiever.

    Why the ethnic minority immigrants succeed where as the natives are failing in Indonesia is probably more complex? More likely Indonesia is a poor country where most don’t get a good education, and it was a Dutch colony where the Dutch probably preferred to keep most natives poor and uneducated. The Chinese immigrants might have been relatively more educated, and were able to take advantage of the situation by cooperating with the those that held power. If you go to China, not everyone is perhaps doing that well.

    Just as in the US. The Blacks are not doing that great in school, and later in life. Whereas the Asian immigrants are. But then again a lot of Asian immigrants come with a great education under their belt or they are the modern day “adventurers” that are taking risks and opening up small businesses … these are a self-select group. Not every Asian in Asia is a business tycoon.

    The Indonesian are to be blamed for the racial attack on the Chinese but its not so simple or unique to that place or the religion. Indian immigrants were attacked in Christian Africa under similar circumstances. Again a situation of the natives failing, and then a select few immigrants succeeding by cooperating with the people in power who are also keen on playing the us and them narrative.

    You see this in the US also. If you recall Marion Barry articulated such a narrative recently involving Blacks and Asians. Its racist of course but its not Blacks being lazy and Asians being overachievers by genetics or such. As someone else mentioned, its all about framing … depends on what convenient time in history you want to start your narrative.

  59. @Kobukson,

    Congrats on the bundle of joy! I’d love to periodically hear about your parenting strategies if you’re up for sharing that, specially given some of the beliefs you’ve adopted. Having children is a life changing experience, and I’m wondering where you stand now and what your parenting gameplan is (if there can be one!).

  60. “The Indonesian are to be blamed for the racial attack on the Chinese but its not so simple or unique to that place or the religion. – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-243226

    Indeed it is not so simple. Since Suharto’s passing there have been many ethnic clashes in Indonesia not involving the ethnic Chinese but between Indonesians considered to be “locals”, resulting in arson, tit for tat murder and even instances of mass murder. These clashes sometimes take on a religious flavor but other times take on a locals versus migrants type of conflict.

    The following was written in 1999:
    http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/891

  61. @ Yun Xu:

    “The observation from those in Indonesia is that it’s quite often true though – not always but enough to point out why the Chinese tend to rise faster economically.”

    Firstly, Chinese Indonesians are religious too – mostly Buddhist and Christian, and some Muslim. Secondly, a very huge percentage of Indonesian Muslims are secular and don’t waste much time praying either, and 10% of the population is not Muslim anyway.
    I’m not going to dispute that Chinese Indonesians, like the Chinese diaspora in general, tend to be extremely hardworking and business savvy. But you are portraying a whole nation as lazy religious hicks just because they don’t tend to do as well as the Chinese, who are perhaps the most economically successful diaspora in the world. That’s like viewing white Americans as lazy because they are not as successful as Indian-Americans.
    Indonesians are also very diverse; some ethnic groups have tended towards agriculture, others towards commerce. The Minangkabau people from Padang in West Sumatra are renowned for their business acumen and are the most successful restaurateurs in Indonesia, with shops in virtually every town in the country. They also happen to be devout Muslims.

    Also… I’m assuming the perspective you expressed came from Chinese Indonesians. That sort of view of native Indonesians as lazy and simple-minded is fairly common amongst the Chinese minority, and I’m sure you can see how it doesn’t help the situation.

  62. Oh yes? Why would that sentiment come from Chinese Indonesians, as opposed to white expatriates and rich Aussie tourists?

    I would say that white people have some kind of complex regarding the Indonesians. They’d either despise them as ignorant and lazy, or have some kind of compulsion to view them as some kind of noble brown savage exploited by an overseas East Asiatic menace (as opposed to actual Dutch colonialists).

  63. Wow. I unintentionally pissed off a lot of people. I’ve read the comments and I’d like to clarify a few things

    1. I claimed religion has been used as an excuse to commit all kinds of crimes. I did not imply all crimes in Indonesia were based on religion. My understanding about the conflicts between Indonesians and Chinese is that the relatively successful Chinese were easy scapegoats for their problems, many Chinese looked down on Indonesians so they partially brought it upon themselves, government wanted to deflect attention from their corruption onto someone else while securing votes.

    2. I was speaking in general terms. Again, I’m not saying everyone is this or everyone is that. Although, I see how my writing definitely gives that impression.

    @singge

    “There is not a homogenous group of “Indonesians” that can be so easily and handily contrasted against another ethnic group”

    Ok.

    “The poverty and lack of development that many Indonesians are subjected to can be directly attributed to several specific factors rather than the general moral deficit your statement implies”

    Of course it’s not just religion. Again, I wish I had made that clearer. I was just trying to make a quick point.

    “third strike is that your characterization of the ethnic Chinese, a race much maligned and slandered in Indonesia, also lacks the depth and sensitivity they deserve after having been subjected to sustained racial”

    I’m not sure what you were expecting.

    “You can’t look at a few rich and politically apathetic consumerist lucky bastards and conclude they’ve done well.”

    I wasn’t. I was looking at the fact that this phenomenon is so well-known throughout south east Asia that it’s even called the bamboo network. I’m not saying all Chinese do well, but it’s hard to reject the reality that they tend to setup shop everywhere they go and rise economically.

    Seems like you see the Chinese a certain way too.

  64. “Wow. I unintentionally pissed off a lot of people. I’ve read the comments and I’d like to clarify a few things

    – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-243250

    I don’t think that you’ve so much pissed people off. It’s just that on a blog, commenters are going to comment — either agreement or disagreement. It’s just that many people happen to disagree with that particular viewpoint.

  65. @ Xun Yu:

    I was speaking in general terms. Again, I’m not saying everyone is this or everyone is that. Although, I see how my writing definitely gives that impression.

    I’m aware that this is the way you write and it doesn’t necessarily reflect what you believe. As a rule of thumb, when you categorise a certain group of people as being a certain way, try imagining if someone wrote that about your group (be it Chinese, Asian men, dentists, Star Trek fans, or whatever) and think about how you’d feel about that.
    You are far from the only person that does this, but it’s common to see people complain about how they are victims of stereotyping and prejudice, and then go on to repeat prejudice and stereotypes about another group, thinking “well in this case it’s different because it’s ‘true'”.

  66. I agree with the contention that perseverance and hard work is almost always more important that raw talent or IQ. I see this at work – plenty of people have creative ideas, but it takes persistence and hard work to see an idea turn into a patent application. You can have a great idea and demonstrate it is viability through research work, but getting people to actually use that research idea can be a huge amount of work and can take years of persistent shopping the idea around before it actually gets used by anyone. As a researcher, I think about Edison’s saying – 10% inspiration 90% perspiration.

    My sons have learned a lot by doing cross country in high school. In that sport, talent goes nowhere without a lot of hard work.

    Some ideas for getting kids to learn to be more resilient and “grittier” (your mileage may vary):

    If your kids want to do an activity, make them commit to sticking with it for a given period of time, like with doing a sport for at least one season. If they don’t like something they have joined, they can choose not join again, but they should commit to at least one season to give it a chance and learn to stick it out (unless the coaches or situation become unacceptably bad).

    Give your kid a chance to make choices and make mistakes.

    Don’t give your kid everything that they want. They’ll work harder and persevere through some difficulties that way, and that should help avoid them getting a sense of entitlement about things.

    Don’t do the “helicopter parent” thing and try to spare your kid any difficulty, jumping in quickly went the slightest thing appears wrong. That doesn’t do them any favors in the long run.

    Expose your kid to the less fortunate – try to get them to not take opportunities for granted or feel entitled.

    Make sure they have a positive peer group. Linda’s comment is spot on. This can be really contentious – I’m glad my wife took the lead on this one with my daughter. Years later my daughter said that she now understood what my wife was trying to do and appreciated it. At the time it was quite miserable for all (teen years can really suck).

    Praise significant effort, even if not totally successful. Empty praise just to “raise self-esteem” is meaningless and even counterproductive.

  67. “I wasn’t. I was looking at the fact that this phenomenon is so well-known throughout south east Asia that it’s even called the bamboo network. I’m not saying all Chinese do well, but it’s hard to reject the reality that they tend to setup shop everywhere they go and rise economically.”

    Who calls it a “bamboo network”? White people do. It’s one of the nods and winks they give each other when they write and publish about the Chinese because the Chinese never write or publish about themselves outside their own language.

    “Seems like you see the Chinese a certain way too.”

    I’ve met the ones who didn’t have the money to fly out in 1998. They were small business owners such as grocers and owners of medicine shops in small towns and villages. The stories they told of 1998 are harrowing, but even worse (if such a thing is even possible) were the stories they told of daily life prior to that. So when I juxtapose what I’ve seen and heard with what I observe from the rich children of emigres who spend all their time in casinos and buying expensive cars and gourmet coffee in posh cafes, who spend all their time partying and “being happy” and watching MTV Indonesia, I can think only of how far we have fallen.

  68. Linda’s assessment of AAs and their relative success compared to that of Blacks and Hispanics is not entirely correct. The reason as to why many AA students do well in school is not because of peer groups, but because of good parenting. And this type of parenting is similar to the parenting of White students who come from means. Parents who are educated, supportive, and who have the resources to provide a learning environment for their children is utmost important. Further, children attend schools that are usually defined by their racial makeup and class. Wealthy kids attend school with other wealthy kids, and poor kids are in schools with other poor kids. Poor kids, of course are the ones with more dysfunctional behaviors.

    Most AAs who speak about this topic are inherently biased because many of them come from status seeking, middle to upper middle class suburban backgrounds, where many Blacks and Hispanics do not. Kids who have parents who are educated and resourceful generally adjust better in life than those with parents of less means.

    There are many 1st Gen AAs who have working class, immigrant parents, and they perform as just as poorly as Blacks and Hispanics, in some cases even worse, because there are less affirmative policies in place for Asians. 1st Gen AAs from working class families generally do not have the opportunity to socialize with middle class and upper middle AAs who are generally better adjusted.

  69. Pingback: The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine (Review) | bigWOWO

  70. before i read the book “the nuture assumption” i totally would have agreed with you Chr, but now i see how what type of peer group you see yourself in, influences a lot on your behaviors growing up and much of it is so subconscious, you don’t realize what’s happening. “good parenting” has less of a direct effect than we would hope for.

    as for the aa kids that don’t do well in school it depends on the demographic make up of their school and how the school is divided. my school had a group of blacks and asians that were “gangsta wannabes” gun runners. in junior high, this group didn’t exist and those asians were in the same honors classes and social group as me.
    once these aa’s started seeing themselves as part of the gangsta group, they have to reflect the gangsta image and lifestyle. So studying was dropped for smoking weed, dressing all thugish, hanging out w/ black convicts, getting pregnant etc etc…. these aa’s weren’t stupid, they didnt have low IQ, they just saw themselves as a part of this particular peer group and did whatever it took to “fit in.”

  71. There are many children of working class Asian immigrant families who become underachievers in school and take up menial work either for their parents or someone else. I have met quite a number of Chinese kids who skipped college to work in the restaurants as waiters or deliver boys. For Koreans, it’s similar, where they work at the the grocers, restaurants and bakeries. Girls do slightly better as they work in the doctor offices, as receptionists or assistants to other professionals in their own ethnic enclaves. The problem is that their parents just don’t have enough resources or know how to provide their children with a suitable learning environment.

    Of course, many AAs don’t speak about this – because the most vocal of the AAs are the ones who come from middle to upper middle class suburbia, who complain about their status seeking endeavors or lack thereof in a White context.

  72. Jeff,

    Great advice!

    I actually did a bit of that myself. When my son asks for lessons in something, there’s always a required minimum. “Sure, you can do martial arts, but you’ve gotta do it for at least until you get a certain belt,” or “Sure, you can do piano, but you’re going to commit for at least a year.”

    Perseverance really is key.

  73. ‘Of course, many AAs don’t speak about this – because the most vocal of the AAs are the ones who come from middle to upper middle class suburbia, who complain about their status seeking endeavors or lack thereof in a White context. ‘

    So are you saying Asian generations should continue remain grateful and remain silent? What will all the grit and hard work in the world do for an asian kid if the society he grows up in continually does nothing to encourage him to be vocal about his social standing?

    For me the issue is not Asian parenting but having a social support network that will empower Asian kids to have a race-based social group that will give them immediate role-models to look up to outside their own family, assuming they even have one. This is all the more important knowing how Asian society is pretty much family based not community based. So perserverance sure is a good quality but for Asian kids teamwork is something that should be encouraged.

  74. indieking,

    I don’t seem to find a social support group for Asian kids in my part of town. However, we have agencies that help children of Asian immigrants apply for social services. It could be the pre-college Asian demographics of NYC, which are mostly 1st generation AA youths of working class families.

    From my observations, FOBs and children of working class Asian immigrants are more well adjusted socially. Those who lead a life of crime in the Asian gangs have another set of issues, not relating with isolation or identity crisis.

    The problems of identity crisis and social standing are more rooted in the middle class-upper middle class AA communities in the suburbs, which are usually in the backdrop of White neighborhoods. It would also vary between the different Asian ethnic groups as well. I find the Chinese to be more socially grounded than let’s say the Koreans or Filipinos. It because we have the numbers, thereby we are able to offer more support and resources for our members.

  75. Chr
    Where I am its the same, we have support groups, and we ( Chinese) are adjusted socially, so in that respect ‘adjusted’ means integrating into white society well. But my point was to have a social group for Asian kids to develop in that would provide a third point beyond friends and family. I dont think this exists anywhere, and I often wonder why. It cant be to do with funding. Probably that Asians arent social and keep it all in the family, but then thats exactly the whole point of having one.

    Its like a permenantly missing factor from each generation.

    Simply put, if Asian kids were forced to hang out with each other,like an Asian boy scouts club for example it would nurture a healthier sense of social identity, growing up. After that, integrate into mainstream society all you want, as integration is the end product, regardless.

  76. my point: building a sense of Asian solidarity amongst Asian kids at an early , dissolving the segregation that exists between the different Asian communities maybe empowering the development a more unique AA identity, rather than an umbrella term that refers to individual FOB culture values to fall back on in times of duress. I dont know, given how strong FOB culture is its probably impossible and unnecessary, but my point is , as with anything, if its not seen as necessary, then it wont be implemented. The same can apply for Asian community, and on topic, the sense of ‘social belonging’ to an ethnic identity for Asian kids.

  77. I always have mixed feeling about “perseverance”. While “perseverance’ is necessary for people to accomplish anything, it could also result in wasting time or failure in life.

    The guy in this story is from my alma mater. NYT and many other major media also reported his story. One of my friend in UNH hired him while he was working in Subway about 15 years ago. He was hired as an instructor and he still is (I haven’t checked to see if he is promoted after this result). The news said he has a wife in California. But none of his friend know about that. While I respect his “perseverance”, but do I want my children have that kind of life? NO.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-23/the-mathematician-who-could-be-a-movie-star.html

    I think it is important to let kids know the value of perseverance, but that has to be based on good judgement.

  78. Success in life means different things for different people. If Yitang Zhang is happy with his life choices, then the journey of discovery is in itself worth it. In research the process that leads to a final out come can be just as enjoyable. This is what keeps people going in research because one cannot be sure before hand if all the efforts are going to end in success or failure. The ones that you think are sure of success are most likely trivial extensions of what is known currently, and as a result not as exciting.

    Now that he is successful, his legacy will live on. At the end every one dies, names of rich bankers will be forgotten unless they end up in jail. The rich people from past that most remember in a positive light are those that gave away their wealth to help others.

  79. “Just look at muslims calling out to their allah all day for handouts instead of doing anything. This is one of the reasons Chinese run Indonesia. They don’t waste time praying. They’re doing stuff while the religious Indonesians are loafing around and calling to allah.”

    In Burma the situation is somewhat similar but chinese aren’t discriminaed against in the sameway in indonesia due to a number of factors (other than politically motivated riots by dictators in power in the past), the chinese make up the mercantile classes and are seen as highly successful and hard-working where chinese males usually end up marrying burmese females ( implication isn’t a very good one but it is what it is).

    The reason why Burmese-chinese integrate so much better is.. probably commonality of religion / values, the fact that if you look at chinese person and a burmese person 80% you cannot tell which one is which, and the burmese take it for granted that burmese-chinese are just simply burmese people not different in anyway than people from themselves. And yes the chinese people in Burma can be very religiously devout, though that’s got nothing to do with how successful they are materially in society as much as the other points people bring up.

    The muslim issue, again which the post brings up this isn’t so much race/ethnicity as much as a schism based on national-religious identity, muslims also seem to have many issues as well in Burma (whole nother topic).

  80. A Confucian wisdom quoted by Zhang’s PhD advisor “A person who knows a job is no match to a person who likes the job. A person who likes the job is no match to a person who enjoys the job.” rings true to how I view research work in STEM. Its not for the faint hearted. Needs lot of grit.

    http://www.math.purdue.edu/~ttm/ZhangYt.pdf

    I can only hope if Hollywood makes a movie on Zhang, they don’t Whitewash him as a high school drop out who goes on to prove some math conjecture. The inability to lend a tenure-track job is not uncommon for most PhDs in some STEM fields. But Hollywood would probably romanticize a lot of ordinary facts.

  81. Hollywood won’t be able to make a film about Zhang. Pure mathematics seems to me to be an insider’s club. I can’t tell what kind of direct impact and implications Zhang’s work has on things as we know it. John Nash on the other hand may have been celebrated because the implications of his work became widely known and discussed in… certain circles.

  82. “The reason why Burmese-chinese integrate so much better is.. – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-247615

    No, I think a more direct explanation is that everywhere these pogroms have occurred, the same thing happened: private property was “appropriated” on a massive scale. Money, land, savings, stores of goods, ownership of companies was taken, stolen. Slavery is illegal now in the modern age, so I guess it is a natural step to kill and rape, then kill people left without land and money thanks to the pogroms.

  83. my point: building a sense of Asian solidarity amongst Asian kids at an early , dissolving the segregation that exists between the different Asian communities maybe empowering the development a more unique AA identity, rather than an umbrella term that refers to individual FOB culture values to fall back on in times of duress. I dont know, given how strong FOB culture is its probably impossible and unnecessary, but my point is , as with anything, if its not seen as necessary, then it wont be implemented. The same can apply for Asian community, and on topic, the sense of ‘social belonging’ to an ethnic identity for Asian kids.

    Implementing an integration of the different Asian groups would not be feasible, given the fact that all the AA groups have their own ethnic enclaves, with the Chinese comprising of the largest group with their multiple Chinatowns in any major urban area that serves a specific dialectal/regional group.

    The Pan Asian American Identity was coined by activists for the convenience of the common struggles among the different ethnic groups. It has not taken into a new level of meaning, such as integration and intermarriage between the groups that you find with hodgepodge White Americans. The reasons are clear, enclaves are strongly maintained because of the marginalization and perpetual foreigner syndrome that mainstream America has constantly pigeonholed on Asians. Take the Japanese American community for an example. 3rd and 4th Generation Japanese Americans were more likely to marry their own, despite their seemingly complete acculturation into American society. They are also more likely to marry Whites than to other Asian groups because of the segregation factor – mainstream America has constantly balkanize non-Whites, especially Asians of their “alien” status and their place of origin in a negative manner, where they are unlikely to associate with other Asians of a different ethnicity because of this stigmatization.

  84. Great story, ChineseMom. Cool to see it’s someone connected by just a few degrees of separation. Great quote, John Doe.

    I think I saw this story, but for whatever reason, I didn’t blog it.

    If I may ask…what do you all think is wrong or right with his life?

  85. “If I may ask…what do you all think is wrong or right with his life? – See more at: http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/10/how-children-succeed-grit-curiosity-and-the-hidden-power-of-character-by-paul-tough-review/#comment-248062

    From what little available I could read, nothing is wrong. He is brilliant, loves to do mathematics. His career path is also not too unusual in that he had to do some non pure math jobs, and then be a math instructor at a university. Not everyone with a PhD in math lands a tenure-track position. At that level of competition lot of things come into play which one cannot know unless on the hiring committee. The articles mention he worked in subway but doesn’t tell us how long. Those kind of details matter. Was he willing to work in some applied math position in industry when he didn’t land a tenure-track job? What applied math skills does he have?

  86. Chr

    Race for Asians in the west has always been a ‘sink or swim’ test, of character, but thats exactly the problem why racial identity hasnt been taken seriously and we end up tolerating what should have been eradicated decades ago.

    Without a significant Asian cultural direction, FOB Cultural reference is the next best important thing for Asian kids in the west, otherwise its relying on mainstream TV to teach you what to think about your own racial identity.

    But then Mainlanders dont really have a culture, and only economy to show off, which isnt the same. Koreans and Japanese have it more developed but dont have the power and HK culture as an entity separate from China is almost dead.Cultural identity = racial identity = respect, i still don’t believe money or perseverance can do anything to change this. Or even understand the relevance to teaching this Asian kids who already know this.

    Look what it did for Lien and his family getting rushed by a gang of motorcycle thugs and an undercover cop. Obviously we cant ‘work off’ the stigma of racism, which is why there needs to be an Asian version of boy scouts with real adult Asian male and female rolemodels , to centralize the roots of a real sense of Asian identity at an early age

    And thats to say nothing of the sink or swim teen years of racial acceptance.

    Family support model is not enough IMO, it never has been. Asian businesses in the west should realize this because its the children of business FOBS that are going to grow up /become educated in such environments, its in their interest to do so.

    One serious initiative by an Asian corporate benefactor could do a lot to set a good example in creating a sense of Asian identity for kids.

  87. @Indieking

    That’s a really great post. Asians, in general, need to grow a spine made of titanium. Do you think there’s a way to do this across Asians or do you think it’ll have to split off for each ethnic group (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Loatian, etc) ?

  88. Re business sponsorship , generosity and how much they want to give, depends on the company. FOB HK local businesses tend to support Chinatown only .

    Then there’s big mainland businesses from overseas the ones who want to make an impression. Unfortunately they are also the most distant ,out of touch, probably only interested in safe asset investment rather than sponsorship of any kind.

    But if we are going to go the Chinese angle, because of economic and population clout then specifically mainland FOBS businesses should take the initiative IMO, and younger mainlanders should appeal for it. Afterwards outreach to other Asian communities to support the idea, not financially, but participation to support the idea of an Asian boy scout club

    Mainlanders are more intellectually and culturally open – you can see this even in Asia of the interest in other Asian cultural output so on a local western based level, I think this could be a natural step and a positive way forward to make a social mark for Chinese in the west rather than the usual funding of other peoples /non Asian initiatives. Id even go as far as saying if local mainlander CEO can see positive results in their own children, and how they interact with other Asian kids in building an identity, it can only get better for Asians in the west. Future generations and being useful is the big thing when it comes to Asians, so why not Asian scouts club.

  89. I agree with the fact that Mainland China lacks a definitive culture. They destroyed it during the Cultural Revolution and even before that, and the Cultural Revolution / Theoretical Communism, albeit a unifying force (the good part), was so culturally destructive it will take generations to undo the damage — a common theme for countries that underwent full theoretical Communist transformation.

    That being said, China’s current leadership is competent and committed towards making effectual change. If they need to use Communism as a unifying banner to fly under, so be it. If they need some way to justify their own security in power, as long as they are supplying their citizenry with economic benefits and modernization, I’m OK with it. So in short, I agree, I agree, and I agree. Japan and Korea have a great culture, Japan’s culture is a little too rigid for contemporary survival, however. Korean culture is more mainstream globally. But yes, nobody can truly grant you full respect unless you have the economic and political force to back it all up. Mao was right on the money with one quote — “All political power (and therefore all power, period) arises from the barrel of a gun.”

  90. Eliminating a backwards totalitarian-esqe despot like Bo Xilai makes me support the current Chinese leadership further. It demonstrates that they are committed to positive policies that inspire sustainable growth as opposed to foster an unsustainable quota based system of growth.

    To me, those who oppose China with such evidence of positive direction are only haters who seek to curtail the Chinese in gaining the resources and lifestyle that they / we deserve. On a PS3 chat, a guy from Britain, who mistook me as another white guy, said “Damn Chinese, they are like rats running around the globe, sucking up the world’s resources.”

    Thank you, my British friend, thank you, for reassuring me that I am on the right path.

  91. Back to culture — Japan’s culture is unique, but I do not feel it has much ability to recruit and hold others. It certainly is fascinating and amusing, but most people seem to view it as a cultural oddity, and ultimately, inferior to their own culture / globalized culture. The way I see people approach Japanese culture is as something to micro-manage, something to “deal with”, usually for the purpose of fitting into their extremely maddeningly complex society. But Japanese culture is not seen as progressive and enlightening, and does not seem to venture far out of its tiny borders.

    Ultimately, I feel as though Japanese culture is something that amuses and entertains, but something people do not respect. Korean culture has more potential as a global bridge, if the next generation of stars have better bi-lingual/tri-lingual (need English) skills, to connect with a world-wide audience.

  92. There are enough Asian-american’s to make our small nation, all this talk of asian countries and their culture and relying on their emergence to bargain for respect, role-models etc… This imo is the completely wrong approach.

    If we don’t respect our own unique experience’s, our own contributions (or potential) and ability to think and perceive differently than both asian and white people, then all is lost. This is the basis of identity.

    There is alot of hope actually just from the formation of this thread, the next generation of Asian americans (potentially) can benefit greatly especially if the parents have all this knowledge regarding racial issues so on.

    We have to believe no matter what anybody thinks or how impossible it seems that anything is possible, an Asian american leading star in hollywood (virile asian male that is seen as sex symbol instead of the usual lucy liu well you know..), an Asian American president, formation of a music/art culture/progressive anything that lies outside of simply academic achievement.

    Without any sort of vision, you pretty much get Lucy Liu, Psy, Amy Tan the usual you know…

  93. If I may ask…what do you all think is wrong or right with his life?

    He is very passionate about math. In those years when he was working in Subways and MacDonald, he didn’t give up on math and worked on his own. He is also a very nerdy person, and probably doesn’t care much about money or status. This could be both his strength and weakness. On one hand, because of this, he can concentrate on the work he loves and not to be bothered by other things. On the other hand, this made it impossible for him to get a tenure track position or any other better pay job. My friend took him to New Hampshire in hope not only to help Zhang, but also to cooperate with each other and to get some work done. I don’t think my friend achieved his second purpose.

  94. If I may ask…what do you all think is wrong or right with his life?

    He is very passionate about math. In those years when he was working in Subways and MacDonald, he didn’t give up on math and worked on his own. He is also a very nerdy person, and probably doesn’t care much about money or status. This could be both his strength and weakness. On one hand, because of this, he can concentrate on the work he loves and not to be bothered by other things. On the other hand, this made it impossible for him to get a tenure track position or any other better pay job. My friend took him to New Hampshire in hope not only to help Zhang, but also to cooperate with each other and to get some work done. I don’t think my friend achieved his second purpose.

  95. @Awake,

    I agree with the fact that Mainland China lacks a definitive culture. They destroyed it during the Cultural Revolution and even before that, and the Cultural Revolution / Theoretical Communism, albeit a unifying force (the good part), was so culturally destructive it will take generations to undo the damage — a common theme for countries that underwent full theoretical Communist transformation.

    I agree that China is currently in a culture void, but it is not due to the Cultural Revolution. Just try to ask yourself what “culture” was destroyed in those short 10 years? I can assure you, few mainland Chinese can answer this question even if they believe in so. It is true that many buddhist temple was destroyed, but most of them were rebuilt. Yes, many people lost their family treasures and antiques. My family lost most of our valuables during those years, but we lost more during the Japanese invasion. What else? I couldn’t think of much. We are in a culture void not because the old culture are good, but because it is obsolete, not fit for modern society.

  96. The Jewish culture is thousands of years old, is it not obsolete as well? China can change, but it needs to be grounded in something.

  97. If China is obsolete, then perhaps people like me — Westernized, yet loyal to China politically and economically, can offer something to China.

  98. @Awake,

    That what I am asking you: what “culture” which shouldn’t be obsolete was destroyed during the CR?

    I agree that AM like you can contribute a lot to China and China has much more opportunities than here. But you have to be well prepare and really know what you get into. Otherwise, you could be very disappointed.

  99. Yes, you are right. China and the mainland chinese mentality can be difficult to deal with at times. For one, they don’t adulate America as much as lets say, Taiwan. If you don’t have an excellent command of Mandarin you will be discriminated in. I will miss some freedoms and speaking candidly on these forums.

    But I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. And yes, I am preparing now, but it will be years before I am ready to leave.

  100. @Awake

    If you don’t have an excellent command of Mandarin you will be discriminated in. I will miss some freedoms and speaking candidly on these forums

    Have you ever been to China?

    I don’t know where did you get the idea that you will be discriminated against if you don’t have an excellent command of Mandarin. All foreigners have some kind of privilege in China. Many AAs in China probably don’t like the fact that they don’t get as much privilege as Caucasion because of their Asian face. But hey, you have the opportunities to be treated as one of US.

    It is also not true that you can’t speak as freely and candidly as on these forums in China. You really need to know more about China if you want to relocate there.

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