Playing to win

  • July 4, 2013
Playing to win

Hilary Levey Friedman's new book is on raising children in a competitive culture.

A book by Gates Cambridge alumna Hilary Levey Friedman on the pressure on young American children to do competitive afterschool activities is already getting major press attention although it is not due out until September.

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

It asks why American children participate in so many adult-run activities outside of the home, especially when family time is so scarce. Hilary [2002], who did an MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transitions,  analyses the roots of these competitive afterschool activities and their impact. It suggests these activities have become “proving grounds for success in the tournament of life – especially when it comes to coveted admission to elite universities, and beyond”.

The book paints the context that leads to the rise of so-called Tiger Moms. It introduces concepts like competitive kid capital and pink warrior girls and details how American children learn how to play to win.

It has won plaudits from child experts, including Valerie Ramey, Professor and Chair of Economics, University of California, San Diego who said: “Hilary Levey Friedman has managed to convince numerous upper middle class parents and their children to pause from their mad dash between extra-curricular activities to explain why they have chosen this lifestyle. Using information from detailed interviews across a variety of activities, she provides a revealing account of the motivations that lie behind the dramatic rise in competitive children’s activities. This fascinating book forms a key part of an emerging body of research that links the increase in time devoted to childcare to parents’ worries about their children’s economic futures.”

The book is released on September 1st.

For more information, click here.

Latest News

Shaping policy and Alzheimer’s research

Just six years since leaving Cambridge, Brianne Kent has secured a role as Assistant Professor, won multiple awards,  become the first early career researcher on the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR] and is currently setting up her own laboratory to further her studies on Alzheimer’s disease. Since January, when she […]

Ed-tech wins Gates Foundation funding for access work

An ed-tech non-profit co-founded by a Gates Cambridge Scholar has received a $980,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop its free college affordability tool. Moneythink, co-founded by Greg Nance who is also its Board Chair, says the money will help it to accelerate the development and reach of DecidED, its free […]

Gates Cambridge: a purposeful community

As the Gates Cambridge Scholarship reaches the end of its 20th anniversary year, its alumni association is holding an event late this month which celebrates some of the factors that have shaped the scholar community. That sense of community, of a global network of leaders, developed and owned by the scholars and alumni themselves, is […]

Fibre optic project aims to improve Sri Lanka’s infrastructure

A Gates Cambridge Alumnus has formed a partnership between his university, Cambridge and Oxford universities and a local engineering company to introduce a cutting-edge technology to Sri Lanka. A team of researchers and industry experts from the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka, the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC), the University of […]