NYTimes.com Opinionator: Western Men Are Doomed
By DAVID BROOKS AND GAIL COLLINS
Published: November 19, 2009
Are certain groups of people better suited to a changing world?
"Western parents tend to emphasize nouns and categories when teaching their kids, Korean parents tend to emphasize verbs and relationships. If you show Americans a picture of a chicken, a cow and grass, they will lump the chicken and the cow, because they are both animals. Asians are more likely to lump the cow and the grass because cows eat grass. They have a relationship" (David Brooks, Western Men are Doomed).
As a relatively new college composition and literature instructor, I have found that students truly struggle with verb, adjective, and adverb usage; not that they can’t identify which is which and how they are operating, but when asked to produce one on the spot, to me at least, they seem to struggle. Also, and this could very well be lack of confidence, the writing they turn in is very plain and almost devoid of the kinds of relationships that Brooks mentioned in the above quote.
Instead, they seems to excel at placing objects into categories; when we go over how to classify as a rhetorical method to strengthen their arguments, I don’t need to spend much time explaining how classifying works because it comes very natural to them. However, when we cover cause and effect, students need more time and more expiation and practice before they feel comfortable using it as a writing strategy.
I really don’t know where I’m going with this line of thinking, but I do find it interesting that David Brooks feels relational thinking is better suited to solving future problems and that western comparative thinking is not. His opinion piece got me thinking about how my students learn language and process it in writing; but there must be some middle ground to the issue, value in diversity and not in either or.