Asian-American “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua has launched herself right back into the thick of controversy with a new book. Co-authored with her husband Jed Rubenfeld, the book is titled “The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.” While many of their detractors slam their work as promoting racial stereotypes, the writers take pains to stress that it actually debunks many preconceived notions of ethnic communities.
This article lays out some of the book’s main ideas. When one gets past one’s own racial sensitivities and reflects rationally on the research presented by Drs Chua and Rubenfeld, the article is really fertile ground for a reconsideration not only of the racial stereotypes that are so prevalent (for instance, that Asian students always score good grades and black students do not) but also what drives success in general, including on a national, family and individual level.
You can hone your critical thinking skills by constantly engaging and challenging brilliant minds like Drs Chua and Rubenfeld. Do not be afraid, because even if you are not their intellectual equal, you should be able to give anyone a bit of a fight in a debate. This is what an educated person should be capable of and what GP aims to develop in you. Question anyone! You can do so in a respectful manner, but challenge!
For instance, is it true that the ethnic communities mentioned by the writers (including Chinese, Indians, Jews, Iranians, Nigerians and Cubans) can be definitively considered the most successful? Yes, they may produce the highest average incomes but who produces the highest peaks? The icons at the very pinnacle of American success — Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett — generally do not come from these groups. In fact, they are all whites (Jobs was half-Syrian biologically, but raised in a Caucasian family as an adopted child). So how do you measure the success of a community? By its peaks or its average? How do you even define success?
While everyone is entitled to his or her own definition of success, we still need to establish our own definition in an essay so that we can build a platform for a discussion. I would advise students to use a definition that will be quite widely accepted. For instance, “Success to me is a combination of financial comfort and attainment, contribution to society, happiness, good relationships and wholesome good values.” Such a definition of success would be inclusive and incorporate at least one element that almost everyone can identify with. Hardly anyone would feel alienated by such a holistic, balanced and down-to-earth definition; therefore it would be widely accepted by examiners.
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