Insight into the childhoods of highly successful people and the lessons to be learned from their examples.
Is it possible for a parent to steer their child from the earliest days of infancy toward a successful career later in life? Ferguson (Toward Excellence with Equity: An Emerging Vision for Closing the Achievement Gap, 2007, etc.) and Robertson (co-author: Media Circus: A Look at Private Tragedy in the Public Eye, 2015) believe so. Based on their analysis of more than 100 graduates from Ivy League schools, the authors compile a list of eight traits or “roles” that those parents used during the graduates’ childhoods. The most critical stage is the infancy to 5-year mark, when the child’s brain is like a sponge, soaking up everything. Consistently, the parents had taught their children how to read simple words and the basics of math before the age of 5, and “they had talked to their child as an equal, respecting their intellect and answering their questions after careful thought.” The result is a stimulating environment that encourages children to reach their highest potentials and fullest sense of well-being. The authors share the backstories of many of their interviewees, providing information about a wide variety of childhoods. They illustrate how, despite poverty, self-doubt, race, class, and other adversities on any level, a child can still rise to an above-average level of prosperity due to the actions of parents who encourage hard work, resilience, and confidence. In one particularly useful section, the authors offer a comparison between a parent who follows the authors’ “formula” and a tiger parent, clearly illustrating the differences in the two parenting styles. Parents, educators, and others who work and live with children will benefit from the knowledge here.
Though there isn’t one overriding formula for everyone, the authors’ comprehensive analysis highlights many of the tools necessary for creating a solid foundation for a fruitful and happy life.