My daughter had school on Wednesday. It wouldn't have been unusual except that snow had been falling for hours when we got up, which usually sends Philadelphia into a tizzy. Three hours later, she called from school to say the place was shutting down.
On the tortuously slow drive in, I joked that her head of school made the decision to open because of the Sputnik Moment--Obama's observation that too much of the world outstrips the US in education, and that the collective "We" would have to kick some serious math and science butt in order to keep up economically. Probably her school was going to fire the art teachers and double up the math classes.
She was not amused. But it made me think. Okay, this was also inspired by reading about Amy Chua (no, I haven't read her book.) The Russians didn't get Sputnik up there by jumping in and doing the job for their kids every time they had trouble making a bed or using a screwdriver. By letting rudeness dominate when a meal isn't to a child's liking. By worrying that if we set firm limits and stick to them, we might damage their psyches.
All of which I've been guilty of doing. Chua's message is that kids are strong and capable. Don't discredit them by forgetting that. Obama's message is that the United States is strong, but disciplinary measures will be needed to keep it that way.
I'm in the arts; arts funding is going to be cut. Well, they gotta do something about the deficit. I say, let's not waste a moment's energy by directing our energies away from the creative work at hand. Under the system that produced Sputnik, artists and writers either gave up or risked their lives to keep working. That's a far cry from where we are. We're challenged. But that's not an excuse to throw in the towel.
At least, that's what I'm going to tell my daughter when, today being an actual snow day, that Yes: some work around the house will be involved.