I guess I have to stop forcing girl1 and girl2 to go to Operas. Apparently it doesn’t correlate with high achievement in public schools.

This article summarizes economist Stephen Leavitt’s (of Freakonomics fame) longitudinal study factors correlating to student success.

“It’s also surprising what doesn’t matter, according to Leavitt’s analysis of the data. Some of his findings upend conventional wisdom about rearing children. It doesn’t matter, for example, if a child is regularly taken to museums, or if the parents read to him every day, or if the parents play Mozart at him, or if he attends Head Start. There is no strong correlation between these activities and a child’s success in school.”

There goes the piano lessons, too 🙂 But read on, Leavitt’s findings are really no surprise based on my experience with the girls’ elementary school.

“Nor does it matter that a child’s family is intact. The data shows no strong correlation between family structure and academic achievement.

What’s important, Leavitt concludes is “who you are, whom you married, what kind of life you lead. If you are smart, hardworking, well-educated, well-paid, and married to someone equally fortunate, then your children are more likely to succeed. (Nor does it hurt, in all likelihood, to be honest, thoughtful, loving, and curious about the world.)”

What else he found was that children with mothers who were 30 or older and educated did better, too. In the article it posits that this is so because the women are starting out on a better economical footing.

Reading this article came on the heels for me of reading another article about parenting (forwarded to me by my own mother) Why Chinese Mothers are Superior which was in interesting read for me.

The emphasis on working, working, working until you get it right (and the assumption that children CAN get it right with enough practice) is one that I have taken into my own psyche as a kind of balance for the more Western practice of allowing children to fail or quit because of worries about self-image.

It’s one of the excuses I have for forcing girl1 to do hours and hours of Japanese homework for the last three years.

And while I don’t think the traumatic piano practice session described in the article is one that I think is truly supportive of the child, it is a point of view I think parents should take into consideration.