I also listened to Tim Ferris’s interview with Neil Degrasse Tyson. There are a few insights that I got from this interview. First, his parents made an effort to take him every week to interesting places – museums, planetarium, baseball games, concerts.
My kids are unlikely to have me take them to baseball games, but I need to make a more proactive effort to expose them to the world around them. I need to set a day each month where I look ahead a month or two and plan our “cultural” life. Neil’s parents did not tell him, you need to be an astrophysicist, they just exposed him and his siblings to the world.
Another thing I took out of this interview is that you really have to be careful what you emphasize. Neil did not have good grades in high school. The New Yorker did a profile of him in which they called him “a “mediocre student.” He said (I am recalling from memory here) that the New Yorker was factually correct but wrong in spirit, because though he didn’t have good grades statistically speaking, he had a lot of strong outside interests. He read books about science nonstop; he was president of the science club; he took photos and sold them to newspapers.
The punchline here is that if he had chosen to have perfect grades he’d have had to give up the other interests that were even more important to his education than good grades. Interestingly, despite his mediocre GPA, his achievements outside of the classroom got him into Ivy League schools.
As a parent, there is a such a thing as grades that are good enough. If Hannah chooses to read books instead of getting an A in a class, that is probably better for her in the long run. (She read 55 books in 2019 and apologetically told me that due to the agreement about reading we have, she had “cost” me $500. I told her that was the best $500 I’d ever spent). If she takes to reading comic books instead of getting A’s, though, I may have to rethink this.