Rebellion of an Innovation Mom
June 5th, 2011
09:05 AM ET

Rebellion of an Innovation Mom

Editor's Note: Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Follow her on Twitter at @slaughteram.

By Anne-Marie Slaughter – Special to CNN

Call it the rebellion of the mother of two adolescents against the Tiger Moms, but what this nation needs to be innovative and entrepreneurial is to ask our kids to do less.

Innovation requires creativity; entrepreneurship requires a willingness to break the rules. The jam packed, highly structured days of elite children are carefully calculated to create Ivy League-worthy resumes. They reinforce habits of discipline and conformity, programming remarkably well-rounded and often superb young people who can play near concert-quality violin, speak two languages, volunteer in their communities and get straight A’s.

These are the students that I see in my Princeton classes; I am often in awe of their accomplishments and teaching them is a joy. But I strongly suspect that they will not be the inventors of the next "new new thing".

Creativity requires a measure of random association and connection and substantial periods of down time, where the mind is allowed to run and turn over seemingly disconnected bits of information, images, and ideas. Richard Florida, author of The Creative Class (follow him on Twitter at @richard_florida), observes that “many researchers see creative thinking as a four-step process: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification or revision.”

Incubation is “the ‘mystical’ step,” one in which both the conscious mind and the subconscious mull over the problem in hard-to-define ways.” Hard to define, yes, but not hard to foster, as long as chunks of the day or the week are left open for relatively random activity: long walks, surfing the Internet, browsing a bookstore, household chores that don’t require too much thought, watching the birds at the birdfeeder and gazing out at the ocean.

Tune In: Sunday 8pm ET/PT as Fareed Zakaria explores why innovation is the key to America's future on CNN.

Creativity gurus often suggest ways to add randomness to your life. Left to their own devices, teenagers are masters at drifting from fad to fad, website to website, and event to event as their fancy takes them, but that seemingly aimless, random wandering is exactly what we are programming out of them.

Entrepreneurship means undertaking something new, something that you create or make happen that does not exist in your space. It does not have to require breakthrough innovation; successful entrepreneurs can borrow ideas that are succeeding elsewhere and transfer them. But our most famous entrepreneurs have a vision and follow it in defiance of conventional wisdom.

One of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs recently listened to me pitch a new idea and patiently told me the many reasons it was unlikely to work and/or that I was the wrong person to make it happen at this point in my life. But at the end of our conversation, he smiled and said: “Of course, every successful entrepreneur started with an idea that other people said would not work but persevered anyway. So go for it.”

Read and Watch: China poses an innovation challenge to the U.S.

To nurture young people who are willing to persevere in the face of deep skepticism or outright opposition, we must reward them or at least allow them to be rewarded for breaking the rules, not meeting our expectations by jumping through an endless series of hoops.

Remember that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college to follow their passions.

Can we really imagine kids who have done absolutely everything expected of them both in and out of school being willing to ignore their college courses and their parents’, teachers’, and coaches’ expectation to suddenly pursue their own path?

Check Out: More from the "Global Innovation Showcase" created by the New America Foundation and the Global Public Square.

The U.S. higher educational system recognizes the value of challenging authority; that is what “teaching critical thinking” is all about. I wrote in 2009 that the U.S. was primed to remain an innovation leader precisely because we give A’s for the answers that challenge the teacher’s thinking and B’s for the answers that echo it.

China, by contrast, is not a country where the government is likely to foster challenging authority any time soon. But a genuinely entrepreneurial, creative nation cannot reward such thinking only in the classroom. We must openly value rule breakers, rebels, and iconoclasts and hold them up as role models. Scary stuff for parents of teenagers, of course – we are then inviting them to challenge our authority. And many readers are already no doubt thinking that Gates and Zuckerberg had to get in to Harvard to be able to drop out of it, and their paths in were not exactly unconventional (they both excelled at exclusive prep schools).

Read: Fareed Zakaria's TIME article, The Future of Innovation: Can America Keep Pace?

True, but Gates at least demonstrated a willingness to break the rules at an early age; he and three fellow students got banned by a computer company for exploiting bugs in a program to get free computer time.

For anyone noticing that my two examples are both men, that may not be accidental. I recall many conversations when I was teaching at Harvard Law School about why our women students did better on average than our male students but that the superstars of the class – the kids who were reinventing legal doctrines on their exam essays – were almost always male.

Read and Watch: A brief history of innovation

By contrast, one researcher had found that women were more likely to be at the very top of their class at Suffolk Law School, where they were often the first women or even the first children in their families even to go to law school. My colleagues posited that these young women had had to break the mold at every step, and had been rewarded for it, in contrast to the many elite young women who are rewarded for meeting expectations – for being good girls.

A Princeton study on women’s leadership has just found that women are far more likely to take second chair leadership positions, supporting the organization and getting the work done as vice-chair, executive editor, or secretary, than to have their name at the top of the masthead.

One young woman surveyed referred to “the intensity of self-effacement,” acknowledging the social pressures on girls not to “put themselves forward.” Are not we still much more likely to reward girls for being good, while bad boys get “boys will be boys”? Who is more likely to carve their own path? On the other hand, women who leave conventional corporate and legal career path to be the kind of parents they want to be are then much more likely to start their own businesses because they require the flexibility of being their own bosses, so we may have cultural counter-currents fostering female entrepreneurship later in life.

Read and Watch: Fareed Zakaria on innovation online and on TV.

Finally, Tiger Mothering encourages competition over cooperation. The discipline that competition enforces – in the daily practice of a sport, instrument, writing or performing art – is important for later success of any kind, conventional or entrepreneurial. But the verification or revision stage of the creative process often comes from tossing ideas around among members of a trusted group, as does the courage to launch something new.

In a recent piece on the perception that the current generation of young people are slackers, Jon Gosier notes that their habit of asking for help and wanting to work with others reflects their understanding of the gains that come from teamwork, which “have been learned from the collaborative nature of their childhood activities, which included social networks, crowd-sourcing and even video games like World of Warcraft.”

The corporate culture at hubs of innovation like Google and Twitter encourages employees to hang out together, work together and explore random ideas in a collaborative atmosphere.

Read: Are we still an innovation nation?

Nothing in this post is meant to reflect on the problems with secondary education in the majority of U.S. schools across the nation, where kids need more hours in the classroom and hard work on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. But to be an innovation nation in the knowledge-based, networked economy of the 21st century, we must remember that creativity and entrepreneurship cannot be programmed, and that less is often more.

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Topics: Culture • Education • Innovation • United States

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  1. fryfrryfry

    . they put everything in their mouths . take it out of the compost bucket as big as forever . and put it back in the compost bucket as big as forever . they put everything in their mouths .

    . 18 or 20 across, 18 or 20 across the other way, perpendicular . 300 . 300 paces all over the lawn 300 counties . 300 towns . 300 dream scapes . 300 folk . 300 napkins . 300 tomato plants or onion . 300 fields . 300 pot holes . 300 traffic tickets . 300 sleeves or tails . 300 . or 400 . knick knacks furnitures foliages forevers babies soldiers lunches soldiers' lunches biscuits banquets buffets bedpans bandages parcels pages fairies sprites munchkins muffins bunnies honeys prayers prairies porcupines plentys palasades paradises packages ponds pill portraits landings lonies lollys lackys latchkeys laptops mobiles cells calendars corks screws levins ...

    ... levin levan leaven . bread . bread houses . floating bread houses . full of sheep . and monkeys . sheep and monkey on the ground . and goat and pig . and goat and pig in the air in the bread houses . dropping crumbs . endless bread crumbs . and ostriches and salamanders . salmon and celestial . seals and solders . soldiers and girls . why aren't they all making grenades for my mom at each sick curb she asks . because they are stupid . they put her name all over muffins she adds . and puts those all over town and country . county and parade . i like stupid . she says . i can't live without stupid she adds . we need more stupid . stupid crazy . silly lazy . facade . loin lawn lunch limit limo landscape . dreamscape . drought . dry . dryness dripping . laundry . launches . lilt . lilts .lifts . liftoffs . laughs . lunicies . lunars . lunas . lamps . bright bright lamps . recycled ones . little clocks . 24 hour clocks . 24 day clocks . 30 hour ones . 30 day ones . 300 day ones . clocks in the recyled tables in the recycled rooms in the recycled wombs . in the light . the kaledicopes of colord speckling lights . no drugs . just giggling toddlers . and their clouds and new moons . woven moons . woven loons . dolls . babes . buried . bullied . too many business . too many not . too many abstract . too many uncut and un pasted un scrap booked . not scrapbooked . just litter . laying on the grown d . like speckle freckle ben gay lipstick muddle puddle . forcufine . i went to the drawer for the knife and came back with the fork . and giggled . and the drawer front laughed . i remembered . the drawer front reminds me of my grandmom's house . it's just like hers were ...

    ... she had shrub bruch full of twittering fiddleing craziness . creature near and far small and large . babbling . like rippling waters . splashing noisy muttering water . but folksy . plants and animals minerals and vegetables . all flowery and diverse . all mellow and too cursed . shrubbrush full of bantering childs . oxen and mammals and lemurs . pews and juice and eskimo igloo puce . ferries and fairies . fabulous and fabled . fortunate and edible . edible people . carnivorous mushrooms . and i'd turn on the television inside the hut . and little black and while snow angels would turn into mosques and hospitals and leafs and dinner plates . filled with folicles and fortunes . stories and prayers . and i'd run to my encyclopedias . and flip through the pictures . and think of word puzzles . and back into the lawn . to my puzzle books . to my sports junks . gamestuff . to my games . to my television . to the sick kids at the curbs . to the library . to the novel . to the science . to the laugh . to the parkinglot across the way . circles . and sqauares too . and other .

    . hapiness is homemade it said . with little stictching . and little stictched side ornaments and such . and i stitched another . horticulture is horrible . and little side ornaments . pretty dildos and things . penises and the other and the like . vegetable ones and other . fruit ones and other .

    . pay quadrillions she argued . and i'll make muffins for my dad . she never did though . i don't know what she made for the man . she wouldn't let me at the meetings . but i'm pretty sure he was always screaming about how hungry he was . and how she never made him any dinner .

    . 60 each night and day, she danced and recycled with and near . billions the world over just like her . her schizophrenic other half, her alternate double personality twin inside herself, she was, in a dorkdom of 90,000 major periodicals on any average given day and night, one of the more elite more robust more rare and more beloved and read circles . a circle of 7,000 on average any day and each on average with 7,000 loyal parrot patrons behaving religiously correct and uniform (within reason, of course) . they did together as much work and more, easily, than the billions with the 60 little friends per day and night . or even those with the drink supplies and flowers to stop and smell supplies and the big hugs with little tears doing easily twice the ordinary quantities and qualities .

    . what do you reference we don't eat girl and boy war baby brains at each sick curb in forever for congress, what do you reference we just make lunch for boy and girl war baby brains for flaming freezing drink making flower blooming big hug little tear journalists volunteer at each sick curb in forever .

    . i took pictures of all the gardens in town . then i had to start over . the toddlers had recycled them all .

    . the pixel leapt upon the screen like magic . a random pixel . visions of pebbles and dust and fruits and vegetables all piles up like compost flashed in my mind . and all the edges and ridges and valleys and seas scattered amidst the ruble pile highlighted in my mind . and lines and shadows seemed to merge and gel together . i felt like i was zooming in and out and in and out and the cracks and crevices were switching and swapping all about . and ultimately it zoomed out on a pile of rubble roughly the same as the one it had at first zoomed in on . in the space in between . i saw civilizations rise and fall . games come and go . folk and creatures dance dances and new dances more and new dances more . and the random pixels slipped away rapidly one by one . till the last leapt from the pages ...

    ... stacking too many boxes changing too many light bulbs recycling too many bed pans and bandages imagining too many lines and pixels . boxes and light bulbs and bed pans and bandages and pixels and line haunt my dreams and even my waking dream scapes . especially the pixels and lines . curved lines . too many mixing merging mingling curved lines . calculus . conservation of density .

    . i accidentally tripped and fell in the middle of a important word puzzle competition . and the president's cousins didn't eat free breakfast at the sick curbs again for a whole afternoon .

    . pretense . school is like pretense . anything you want to say you have to say in five or at most twenty minutes . so the only thing appropriate to say is anything meaningless and random . evenings are more nice still . one can say anything or recycle anything . and no one is in a rush . middle of the night . so hallow . day time folk starve for more knowledge more quick; still, a million dollar idea in the day is but a pebble in a pond as big as a ocean . at night . they starve too . and any little intellectual compliment paints one like a god and lord of a heaven less high . no pretense . any dance with any dreamscape is a marvel and a intrigue and a lustful romp among the other mundane sick kid recycling picnic parlors and picnic tables and bulletin boards and diary medical journals journals .

    . some trucks fill too fast . i have to unload them and reload them so they'll be packed tight enough through the night . some never fill . i don't even worry . i just tell any incoming load to go on in . some trucks are half and half . they fill sometimes and don't sometimes . and it's difficult to decide which ones to load and which ones to pile up and load later .

    . air molecules . and bag full of miniature windshields . air flowing lightly through the bag . pressuring the windshields . that's just one part of one quarter panel of one car on one track .

    . a wash cloth handkerchief hanky loin cloth face veil thing . with microscopic little pores for sitting and resting the thing on air molecules . i hold it like a baloon or umbrella above my head . and it carries me away .

    . she says each year she'll assault her angels and eat my lunch toddler lunch wagon lunch bucket lunch buffet lunch biscuits and bonuses . alas, it's always dad tied to her sexy naughty bench for detain and paddle .

    . silly phone booth . endless eternal intercosmic war baby butts of limitless spank me fetish aren't real here yet . i haven't invented them .

    . the boys made lunch . the girls smacked the boys faces off and reported the news on napkins not edible .

    . cooking with mustard . two face cards with poker . salad out of soup . soup out of salad . casseroles like combines . piling in the vegetables . a little broth of sorts . 350 or 425 . 20 minutes or an hour . sometimes 3 hours or 2 . flash cards . animals aren't dumb . folk just don't read enough gardens wild and cultivated . well . i don't read enough . i'm stupid .

    June 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Reply
    • WuDayi

      Oh, my.....

      June 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • Eight 1000


      June 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Reply
    • ES

      Sounds like unedited stream of subconsious. It is kind of what I get in my mind when I write poetry except then I have to put it in words that make sense. -))

      June 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  2. Skeeve

    Time and again... Dear proponents of "critical thinking", "innovation" , "creativity" and the rest of these meaningless New Age slogans. In order to "critically think" you need to know what to think about and more importantly HOW to think. Thinking and analysis actually involves certain method and certain discipline and knowledge of certain basic facts – otherwise you will be critically think about, for example how useless metal to build flying machines.
    In order to "innovate" you need to know what is known , what is not; what is needed what isn't, otherwise you will be boldly inventing a bicycle. Same with creativity – you cannot create in a vacuum or you at risk creating things that's being created many times over.
    Structured education provides three basic thing 1) the ability to learn, 2) knowledge of basic facts, 3) the ability to use basic facts as building blocks. It also teach kids time management that allows them to free up the time for other activities.
    As for Bill Gates and mark. With all due respect, dear professor, I suggest you take a class on basic statistics in your university along with some class on formal logic (some basic knowledge of computer science are needed too). Then you would know that a) an "abnormal" performance of two people does not reflect population average and cannot be used as a benchmark. Use of benchmarks like this leads to a rather stupid "policy" decisions. How about we start train our kids to be elite boxers from age 5 so all of them will be like Mohamed Ali; b) Neither Gates nor Zuckerberg invented anything new. In fact they didn't break any rules. They simply applied old concepts to new niches (that was opened by somebody else). The idea or operating system existed before Gates, programing languages existed before Gates. Miniaturization of integral schemes lead to the advent of a personal computer. Personal computer needed operating system and a simple programing language to work with. Few were available but the only thing that helped Gates is an IBM's interest. Considering that IBM had no competition at a time he neatly plugged this niche. Nobody would be able to do it now, however smart – the niche is filled. Same with Zuckerberg, he had a failed example of Myspace and there was a need to fill this particular niche. Try he something like this 15 years ago – nobody would care – there was no need.
    Finally, please don't let fact interfere with you conclusions. Do yourself a favor and read biographies of both. One thing that you will notices immediately – "jam packed, highly structured days of elite children". See, without straying of topic, education system in the US in incredibly relaxed and tend to waste a lot student's time on endless repetition of what he learned before – you call this achievement "the spiral system". Most normal people do not need that, and when allowed (by their tiger moms) to avoid it they successfully complete schools by 15-16 and "jam pack" half of the college there too for a good measure. High school that both Gates and Zuckerberg graduated from encouraged this public school do not.

    June 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  3. Chris

    I am not Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. I actually have a PhD from Cornell University. I make a paltry six figure salary. I hold about half a dozen patents (some already awarded, some pending). I believe myself to be a very creative and innovative person and I have worked with few others like me. I can tell you the one thing we have in common. We work incredibly hard. You need to string together lots of 80 hour work weeks to consistently innovate. Thomas Edison said it best: "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."

    Growing up, I worked 12-15 hour days with my dad in the meat packing district in NYC. This was backbreaking work. However, it taught me how to work hard and take pride in what I do. Now, I don't know if my dad was a "tiger dad" or if my mom was a "tiger mom". What I do know is this: If your kids are lazy, and most are, then it doesn't matter how creative you perceive them to be. They will never come close to their potential.

    June 5, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • LP

      Exactly. Many people's "creativity" goes nowhere. Unless you have the drive and discipline to back it up, nothing comes of it. I am a published author and have several more books in the works. Know why? Because I went to a tough college prep school and learned how to budget my time and work hard. There may be people out there more creative than I am, but if they don't have the discipline to work at it and the persistence to make a go of it, they'll never see the success that I have.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Reply
    • WuDayi

      You're right on. I have a PhD from an Ivy, but that did very little for me except that it provided me access to the field at the moment. Indeed, everything valuable that I learned, beyond the PhD and thus useful for my actual work, I learned on the job post-Ivy. But without the hard work that went to getting me into and through the Ivy institution, I never would have been able to innovate in my field. Now, I could resent the stiflings of the institutional Ivy and everything that led up to and through it, or I could thank my lucky stars that I was able to get into and through an Ivy in order to develop on my own. I prefer the latter, Thus, to those who doubt the value of learning the status-quo in order to develop beyond it, I suggest that diligence and "taking it" in the process of the education of one's children are well worth it. The result is intellectual freedom and the ability to innovate in one's field at will. But that implies no slavery to the Institution or its parts; only a dedication to learn its parameters in order to exceed it / them.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  4. WuDayi

    Skeeve and Chris are on target here: it takes commitment, among many other peripheries, for an individual to develop truly creative thought. One must learn the entire field before s/he can innovate beyond it, and the field changes every minute. For would-be innovators, there is no substitute for the hard work of learning the field up to the minute. How many American children are up to the task? Are they hungry enough? That is a real quesion.

    June 5, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  5. SeeBrain

    There is no one great way to steer kids towards success. Some kids excel if pushed, some excel when left free to innovate. The successful parent is one who recognizes what is best for each of their kids, and does so early in their childhood. Having "discovered" the child's predisposition, the truly motivated parent puts 100% effort to ensure that they have the means to succeed.

    I have a new but related comment regarding two parent households vs single parent households when it comes to child rearing. I would go so much as to include any household where the child has guidance and care from multiple adults under the two-parent umbrella. A balanced, independent minded child is more likely to be reared when raised in a situation where multiple "at-home" adults can provide balanced options for development so that the child can construct his/her own best profile and future. Single guide/parent situations, in this respect (some cases can happen even intwo parent households where one parent is mercilessly dominant in terms of child rearing) are lacking in enabling freedom in the child. There is no other adult to compensate for flaws that might be in the dominant parent's guidance – the child either blindly obeys or blindly disobeys. For those of you out there, who have chosen to be or have been forced to become single parents, please consider "adopting" a second (or more) adult sounding boards for mentoring your kid(s). Grandparents and close uncles/aunts/cousins/close-friends can be great co-parents when it comes to giving your child to choose excellence.

    June 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  6. Code850Films


    June 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  7. Paul McLaughlin

    I am one of the most creative people that has ever lived. I try to innovate but the bureaucracy tries to stop me at every step.

    Death to America man.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  8. Erik VonWInkle

    Terrible article

    The example, using MSFT and Facebook, is wrong because they were both brought up in your standard educational system. Bill Gates just happened to be in the write place at the right time with his software. The same can be said about the Facebook story.

    If everyone was brought up to be creative and all this other BS, nothing will get done. There would be no doctors, just alternative medicine people and other quacks. There would be no engineers, just people who were good at drawing pictures.

    If her argument is true, Germany, a country of structured education and rigid people would not be good at innovation but in reality, the Germans make good stuff.

    Get a clue professor. You are out of touch with reality.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Reply
    • Paul McLaughlin

      I tell you that Da Vinci... real crappy engineer.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  9. Peter E

    It is amusing how many people here immediately agree to this article, because what says 'rebellion' like conforming to random ideas by others.
    This article is poorly written, states a bunch of unrelated facts and a list of unsubstantiated ideas unrelated to those facts. It is little more than a bunch of words randomly selected from an encyclopedia.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • WuDayi

      No, it was pretty much on-target. What's your beef?

      As for "real job" or "real world," what is not "real-job" or "real-job about anything that the author mentioned? Please specify.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  10. mike

    One problem....
    Like our President, she never had a "real job".
    Let her try and start a business by herself and see what happens.
    Another "thinker" like Fareed, that knows nothing about business or the real world.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • Skeeve

      what is "real" job?

      June 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Reply
    • SS

      So being a professor is not a real job or for that matter a news analyst like Fareed??? That's why he probably makes in a week what you make in a year.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  11. IThink

    It's not like the lock-stepping liberal instructors in our major universities are going to encourage much critical thought, either.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  12. Limbaugh is a liberal

    I completely agree with this article, because as we all know the space program, nuclear physics, and computers were all innovations brought on by rebels who defied authority at every turn... wait what? They were funded and controlled by the government? And many of them were former nazis who did their initial work under strict supervision by Hitler's government? Nevermind...

    June 5, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  13. WuDayi

    IThink, I think that you do not think for yourself. "Lock-stepping liberal instructors"? How well are you familiar with the politics of instructors at institutions of higher learning? And, why should you be concerned with individual proclivities? Are you paranoid? Each instructor may have her /his own political leanings, but who the f*** cares? That's not at all what this whole thing is about, dude or babe.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  14. Fnordian

    Yes, it all sounds great on paper, until you come to terms with reality- your job as a parent isn't to help children be "innovative" and give them a lot of free time to be creative. It's not to make them feel good about themselves and build self-esteem. It's to help prepare them for the real world and their future.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  15. Seamus

    What a disorganized mess of an essay. Full of contradictions. No clear-cut theme. I suppose this is what she calls creative thinking...

    As far as creativity is concerned, some of us distinguish between the intrinsic quality of output of Michelangelo as opposed to the output of Thierry Guetta.

    I hope very soon that a child-rearing article will come and stress the balance of "free creative down time" and "tiger mother discipline" as opposed to solely one of the two extremes.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Reply
    • zoundsman

      "Balance" the solution to most problems.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  16. Larry

    My cousin fits the bill of an innovative mom. She gives her kids plenty of free time to be creative and all that warm fuzzy stuff. And you know what her kids do? They smoke pot, run away from home and have been to juvie a few times in the past year. But, hey, at least they aren't "conformists" who are too structured and rigid to have a little fun.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  17. Jason

    I'm confused by the premise of the author. Is it that we should do what we can to breed innovation, or is it that we should do what we can to breed more Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs? Gates and Zuckerberg didn't innovate anything. Both of them ripped off the ideas of others, and used their business savvy and a certain degree of underhandedness to take those ideas farther than the people who actually created them.

    Business people are almost never innovating. They are not creators, they are maximizers. Which does the author feel is more important? Creators, or maximizers? Because as long as we have wealthy people in America, we will have new generations of maximizers. Maximizers learn from their wealthy parents and their wealthy private school peers how to maximize. We're doing a fine job of creating maximizers.

    Creators are not coming from Princeton, and never have. They're not going to come from Princeton in the future either. They'll come from state schools that are filled with middle class and lower class children. They'll create the ideas, and the maximizers will take their ideas, give them virtually nothing as a reward, and become fabulously wealthy off of those ideas.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Reply
    • WuDayi

      Jason, dude, you hit it right on the spot. Right on, right on, right on.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  18. zoundsman

    Schools (ivy league or any college) have become more so of a "racket" considering the rising costs of tuition.
    By the time a grad pays off those loans, they'll be immersed in the day to day machine and raising kids.
    Opt out, then you'll have more stresses of finding alternative routes to making a living. I'm for the "ordinary"
    guy who will occasionally "astound" with innovative creativity. These are the types working with limited
    resources, bereft of the distractions of climbing the social ladder (BMW's, etc). It's a crapshoot that the masses
    spin out a person like this. In the meantime, modern times seems more a struggle for the youth-who has time
    to drift away creatively like the old days?

    June 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  19. whocaresanyway

    What the heck is up with the graphic for this story, anyway? I don't know any tiger moms that look that way.

    June 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  20. Josh

    Everything is two sided. While the idea of fostering creativity is good, don't let it become the excuse for being lazy. Look at the American kids, the "innovation" of this country is actually becoming more and more reliant on importing hard-working brains.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  21. Yan Shen

    Well I'm amused that the author is so keen on technological entrepreneurship. Does she realize that Silicon Valley is disproportionately Asian American? Maybe Amy Chua was on to something!

    June 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  22. Paul

    Tiger Mom was so proud that her daughters could flawlessly execute all the creative works of Western (non-Chinese) creative geniuses: Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, etc. I could never understand why nobody was calling her on this until now.

    Yes, China is great at producing "robots" in all sorts of fields. Walk around the home and everywhere you look you find stuff made by Chinese robots. Your iPhone, TV, laptop, clothing, car parts, chips, etc. But how many of things were invented China? None. How many world-famous musicians, artists, designers, etc., come from China? None. Even though China has more people than North America and Western Europe combined, how many creative Chinese innovators can they name? Ask an American or European and the list of huge: The Beattles, Versace, Mozart, Prada, Ferrari, Luis Vuitton, Hermes, Ford, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Abba, The Bee Gees, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Gaudi.... The list goes on and on.

    It bugged me that Tiger Mom was so proud of her culture's ability to produce flawless robots, and before now nobody pointed out her culture's suppression of any real innovation. Thank you Anne-Marie.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • RG

      This comment is dripping with ignorance. Western countries are not the only ones to have made significant contributions to humanity. Albert Einstein once said, for example, "We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made" (referring to Indian mathematicians who introduced the world to the concepts of zero, negative numbers, etc.). And as for China, this is a civilization that gave the world things like the compass, printing and paper- so that geniuses like Mozart and Beethoven could write down their masterpieces!

      June 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Reply
    • Skeeve

      Did it ever occur to you that being semi-educated in the USA you might simply be unaware of what and when was actually done in China?

      June 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  23. DeborahLee

    Thanks CNN...Keep posting these articles bashing China and women like myself that fit the "Tiger Mom" catch-phrase. It is promoting the continuation of the fall of your lazy American society. This author's kids will some day be delivering pizza to my son's staff at his medical clinic. It will probably be pretty boring pizza, since he can't innovate.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      I agree. This is one INSECURE country! Sorry america, but you only lead the way in one thing....military. And that's only temporary. See ya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Reply
      • joe hater

        Even our military is a product of foreign minds. Who are the people at Lockheed who design our weapons? yeah.......

        June 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • Hockeynut

      Finally, a voice from the other side of things! Frankly, I think our kids do need a lot more pushing and structure. Our society has become lazy rather than hard working. We're just saying "oh, that's ok, they'll be innovaters!" No, they won't. They'll be lazy slobs working menial (if any) jobs with their bosses being the ones that pushed harder. Enough with these useless articles trying to justify our complacent society, CNN!

      June 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  24. RGK

    I believe the author simply misses the mark. Her remarks are over-generalized. My guess is that a hybrid approach is better. For example, true, useful innovation is highly unlikely to come from people with average or below average intelligence. Thus, the free time to spur creativy may be more useful for bright people. Meanwhile, a more rigid education may be more useful for those of average or less than average intelligence. Of coure, this approach would not work in school systems due to the inherent inequalities.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  25. joe hater

    the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Tiger mom method should serve as a foundation. With its exposure to different disciplines, it provides the know-how and logic to approach innovation.
    The rest is up to the pupil..... to absorb the world and put it together in his own way.

    innovation is sometimes a product of luck, but more often, it is a product of smart minds.
    Without rigorous education or intense interest in a subject area, you wouldn't even know where to start innovating.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  26. Rod C. Venger

    America's streets and homeless shelters are full of people this tiger mom describes as being creative and possessing the entrepreneurial spirit. Her definition is dead wrong. It's not about rule-breaking, it's about focus, vision and risk-taking. By coincidence, such people tend to be rule breakers...or at least...they tend to have their own set of rules. Socially inept, they most likely have some sort of mental defect that requires they keep their distance from the likes of you and I. Yet, birds of a feather flock together, and you'll note that the "big things" of today were not incubated in any one mind but were collaborative efforts by small groups of people. Who knows what Charles Manson might have birthed had he had a vision other than Helter Skelter and followers with IQ's in the LDL danger zone?

    June 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Reply
    • WuDayi

      Really, dude, it's about BOTH focus AND rule-breaking. First one has to learn the status-quo rules before breaking them has any meaning.

      June 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Reply
    • Skeeve

      As I mentioned above, in order to break a rule you need to know what rules are, how they were broken before, what didn't work and so on an so forth. Otherwise you will be boldly breaking rules... that do not exist

      June 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  27. Nina

    The truth is often somewhere in the middle. While I think Tiger Mom is too strict - and frankly some of her actions physically endangered her children - I also see way too many parents in my work as a librarian who aren't actually rearing children. They let them wander alone (yes, they let them with the idea that somehow we're babysitters), let them run full force through the buildings. They don't tech them basic manners but teach them how to try to bend or break the rules. I'm sure they don't see it that way, but the biggest way we teach is by example. Encourage children to explore and the be their own people, but give them structure and discipline at the same time.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Reply

    The reason that TigerMomming is successful and done by parents is because their child will almost certainly be successful in life. If they play their cards right, its a fool proof way of getting your child successful and happy when they are older.

    On the other hand you can take this method illustrated by the article where you do not push your children, you let the "be creative" (which by this article almost seems to me procrastination) and hope your child be successful.

    I don't think the author realizes that Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and all the other few hundred (or thousand) VERY successful entrepreneurs are less than 1% of the united states population. Think about this interesting fact: 1 in 500 web pages are successful and end up profitable (i am citing a computer programmer on this).

    Taking the creative route is much more risky than the TigerMom approach. Thats my 2 cents on this one.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Reply
    • Skeeve

      Less then one? you just made me laugh... All PhDs combined is less then 1% of the population. People that you have mentioned are simply way beyond any percentage measure. They are very, VERY rare. You cannot educate a person to be a genius.

      June 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Reply
  29. WuDayi

    But, you know, I hate to say it, it is truly from the Berkeleys, the Yales, the Harvards, the Princetons,ETC. that the truly creative ideas tend to emerge. Why? Because of the support of the funding. But are these creators from thees places maximizers? Usually, no. The gist is that FUNDING, which provides OPPORTUNITY and TIME to create, is the key. The problem is, as you pointed out, the maximizers take advantage of the fact that the creators are concentrated on creating, not marketing or maximizing, and, thus, they lose their new ideas to the maximizers.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  30. Wang in Shanghai

    Hahahaha keep up the China-bashing and stupid articles! Innovate my as*. China (literally) OWNS you! You are greatest militarily, but we are building up our navy and our nuclear arsenal, and soon we will be the top dog in less than 20 years.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Reply
    • WuDayi

      Don't be such an ass, fellow. You ain't there yet. There is a lot yet left in 20 years for you to overcome.

      June 5, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Reply
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