There’s been a lot of interesting commentary, from a variety of sources, on my article for the New York Times Magazine on character education, which draws on some of the reporting that I’ve been doing for my next book, “The Success Equation.” On the Times’s Motherlode blog, Lisa Belkin published a guest commentary on the article from a mother named Melissa Sher, who writes,
Life can be more than messy: bad things happen. But our job as parents isn’t to stop them all from happening. Because we can’t. Instead, we can try to make our kids feel loved, valued and secure. So, if we’re lucky, when our children do fall or if things fall apart around them, they’ll get back up.
Evan Osnos, on his “Letter from China” blog on the New Yorker’s site, wrote about how an article like mine might go over in China today:
It will be years before any Chinese magazine sells a story like that on its cover, but achievement, classically defined, has lost some luster.
On the Atlantic’s site, Edward Tenner, an historian, relates the character push by KIPP and Riverdale to similiar discussions of character in the 19th and 20th centuries. He concludes,
It may be that today’s successful city people — the parents of day school students — are likely to have parents or grandparents who did defy adversity, overcoming failure. Many of them sacrificed precisely so that their grandchildren wouldn’t have to. Private school costs may be stratospheric, but if you have to ask the price of some forms of resilience, you can’t afford them.
In the Financial Times, Luke Johnson took a business approach, asserting that the values that KIPP and Riverdale are trying to instill “could equally be the defining criteria for entrepreneurs.”
And on the National Review’s domestic-policy blog, Reihan Salam wrote about the passage in my article when KIPP teacher Sayuri Stabrowski turns a gum-chewing dispute with a student into a deeper discussion about character. Salam writes:
For some reason I found this very moving. It is easy for any of us to feel powerless in the face of trying circumstances, and this is particularly true of adolescents. Yet this student is being taught, in a fairly unsentimental, straightforward way, that she has the capacity for self-control, and that she has an obligation, to her fellow students, her teacher, and to herself, to exercise it.