Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture

Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture

Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture

Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture

Synopsis

Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture follows the path of elementary school-age children involved in competitive dance, youth travel soccer, and scholastic chess.

Why do American children participate in so many adult-run activities outside of the home, especially when family time is so scarce? By analyzing the roots of these competitive afterschool activities and their contemporary effects, Playing to Win contextualizes elementary school-age children's activities, and suggests they have become proving grounds for success in the tournament of life--especially when it comes to coveted admission to elite universities, and beyond.

In offering a behind-the-scenes look at how "Tiger Moms" evolve, Playing to Win introduces concepts like competitive kid capital, the carving up of honor, and pink warrior girls. Perfect for those interested in childhood and family, education, gender, and inequality, Playing to Win details the structures shaping American children's lives as they learn how to play to win.

Excerpt

I have a favorite gate.

Dexter Gate is one of the walking entrances into Harvard Yard off Massachusetts Avenue. Across the street from Harvard Book Store it proclaims, “Enter to Grow in Wisdom.”

I first walked through the quiet, darkened archway of Dexter Gate as a gawky seventeen-year-old, a recently admitted student visiting campus for the first time from a world away, my hometown in the suburbs of Detroit. At that time I thought anything was possible in the world. I thought that being a college student meant endless opportunity, kindred spirits, and a level playing field. On most counts, I was right.

However, during the first weeks of my freshman year I quickly learned that there was much I did not know. People living in my dorm had gone to historic high schools that I had never heard of. On campus many of them seemed to know each other through some magical network that I was lucky to realize even existed, given how removed I was from it. I did not attend a nationally known high school; I did not know what “crew” was . . .

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