Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tiger Kids



This post is dedicated to the kids!

If you want to build a high-end computer, watch the video above: Poseidon: Components Overview, followed by the more detailed Poseidon: Computer Build.  If you’re not curious about what it takes to build a high-end computer, you can skip these steps. But read on...

The video above is of Ronny’s personal summer project last summer. He’d just turned 17. The video was completely shot and edited by Rikki, who is 13.  I started my education on computers at age 19! Okay, you, say - that’s not a big deal, kids grow up with iPads these days, and, if you watch the videos above, it’s doesn't seem that hard...

It is! Especially, when, at 17, during your summer vacation, you’re also doing a 9-5, 5 days-a-week internship at a Silicon Valley internet startup! And you just returned from participating at the National Speech and Debate Championships with your team. And you have to IM your friends, play Starcraft. And Tetris. Prioritize! And you’re also expected to write a 10-minute original advocacy speech, which has to be approved so you are allowed to participate on the debate team next fall!  And you’re getting ready to start your college applications as the summer expires... and … Weekends? What weekends? You’re in a hard hat atop a second-floor scaffolding at a Habitat for Humanity project.

I did some extra-curricular stuff when I was growing up, but it’s ridiculous to put them in the same category!

A lot has been written on Tiger Moms and Tiger Parents and shuttle services! Yes - there is a lot of pressure parents create in driving their children to perform and succeed. No denying that, and us Asians have been known to do our fair share...

But this post is for the kids!

A few months back, I was asked by a friend’s son if I would agree to do an interview for a high school project essay about Google. Sure, I said, thinking I’d be happy to invite him to the famed Google lunch and show him the mini-kitchens and the nap pods and lap pool and the volleyball courts.  He comes in, and he asks about Google’s policies on privacy and user data! His questions were deep and covered a lot of ground. Egad! This is like a media interview! Be careful...

I should have expected this - these are tiger kids!!

The thing is this - the kids who are pushing themselves are not succeeding only because their moms have aggressive feline traits and bad driving habits! They are succeeding because they are driving themselves and their peers to a level of effort and performance that is difficult to comprehend. A sampling of Ronny’s tiger peers: One of his classmates has found an issue/defect in the whooping cough vaccine! Another is a math whiz at the national and global level. Another understands the U.S. economy better than almost everyone in congress! (I’m being dead serious here!) They are all at the state, national levels in speech and debate. And they built a world-level knowledge bowl team, top notch science bowl team (of their own volition) or went off and helped communities in South America. They take advanced classes - perfect grades, great SATs.  I don’t have time to talk about the Royal Bengal. And, we’re not really counting the things their tiger parents got them to do - music, this and that.

Some of them are too lazy to exercise! (I have to get that out of my system!!)

I know the parents.  Yes - we participate and volunteer time and I’m sure we push and prod and want them to succeed - to reach their potential. But the point that’s often missed is - these high achievers are driving themselves and each other to achieve. Achievers achieve!

And so far, I was not talking about the super-duper athletes that are in these schools, who are the next generation of Olympians. Who wake up at 5 a.m. to practice water polo before school and also practice after school because they are the best in the state. And travel. And have to manage their academics. And...

These are tiger kids. I expect (and hope) that most tigers will do well in their lives.

The unfortunate thing is that some of these kids will not get admitted to the college of their choice! Seldom, it will be because they will bequeath a slot to someone even more brilliant and accomplished. Sometimes, it will be because these schools want diversity and will take less accomplished applicants. Sometimes, ironically, it will be because of their parents - because they marked “Asian” for race in their applications.

It’s a zoo out there! There’s only room for so many tigers!

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