Dear Parents: Don’t let Superstar Syndrome cause the kids to fail


British tennis star Emma Raducanu has won the US Open at 18, and the media began to pour out.

She also has a One more in maths and one more in economics. Wow, that’s why immigrants rock! Born in Canada British teen of Romanian and Chinese descent – what a combination!

Still, others praise the way she silenced grumpy old John McEnroe, who looked sarcastic. comments about his mental resilience a few months ago due to his withdrawal from Wimbledon.

For parents around the world who are hastily reading Raducanu’s progress and track record, thinking about new plans for their own children to do sports, music, chess, math, horseback riding, classes at school and the like, here is a cautionary reminder.

The emergence of Raducanu is a rare event. The Law of Averages makes it clear that not all children become Raducanu, and they should be fine. In fact, she herself would recognize that in order to be where she was, she had to work hard, deal with mental wellness issues, and, let’s not forget, spend a lot of money. Let’s also not forget that she has a long way to go. We hope the world will be gentle with her.

The pandemic, meanwhile, will (if not already has) tighten the purse strings of the households of many relatives. worldwide. It is already putting pressure on the challenges of restoring curricula for primary, elementary and secondary education around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. A report of the annual State of Education in India report documents the profound learning losses among children who engage in virtual education, especially those in rural India (meanwhile, governments around the world are touting progress to digitize education without appreciating these nuances). Eric Hanushek and his co-authors also documented in an OECD 2020 report the negative effects of learning losses on global GDP in the long run.

All of this, meanwhile, is happening as the gap between the demand for and supply of education and life skills is potentially exploited by digital sharks – stylized educational technology providers barking at parents’ necks, promising to create the next mathematical or scientific Olympiad. In places like India, this is happening with seed money from the venture capital ecosystem, with little regard for quality control or the challenges created in households that are on the fringes, aspiring. to afford the technologies. For parents who grew up with fangs shadow education and private coaching homes in places like India, Japan or South Korea around them, this advent of edutech is just a digital reminiscence of those days of brick and mortar.

That aside, our children suffer from device exposure, potential problems with childhood obesity due to a more sedentary lifestyle triggered by global blockages and eye problems, given the exposure to screens. Many also cross mental health problems and can face a increased risk of suicide.

Finally, many parents are not at all in a position to push their children to become the next Raducanu, given the lack of quality and equal opportunities in education. Even in wealthy economies like the United States, there is a phenomenon of “Einstein lostDocumented by careful empirical work by economists like Raj Chetty and colleagues.

In this world of preponderance of challenges, let’s be easy with our children. Let’s work with them to be good human beings as we slowly recover from the pandemic. Let them enjoy sunrises, sunsets and nature, and understand the suffering of the human condition as the world recovers from the pandemic while dealing with climate disasters of Lake Tahoe in Bangladesh.

Our children may or may not become the next Raducanu, but that’s absolutely fine.

Chirantan Chatterjee is a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is also Associate Professor of Economics and Trade Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, where he holds the ICICI Bank Chair in Strategic Management.


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