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Businessweek Archives

Family Or The Fast Track: That's Still The Choice

Readers Report


Many companies have become more flexible in making it possible for workers to take care of family matters during what would otherwise be company time ("Balancing work and family," Cover Story, Sept. 16). Technically speaking, many so-called fast-track jobs do not require more than the normal 40 hours per week and provide some flexibility about which 40 hours are worked. But management differentiates between the 40-hour-a-week employee and the one who freely works the extra 20-30 hours. By definition, this extra time comes out of family time.

Those workers who opt in favor of their families for whatever reason are frequently branded underachievers or undependable. They will likely end their careers earning at least three times less than if they had chosen the company path. As a former single parent, I chose the family track, something I have never regretted, because I know I have accomplished something of lasting significance. Magazines such as BUSINESS WEEK, which glorify the fast-trackers and their lifestyle, make it more difficult to choose family over empty corporate promises.

M. Darrell Briggs

Chelmsford, Mass.Return to top


If more schools applied Howard Gardner's multiple-intelligence theory, fewer students would become discouraged and drop out ("How many smarts do you have?" Science & Technology, Sept. 16). In 28 years of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I was always amazed at the large number of students who couldn't master traditional academic subjects but who were gifted in other areas that Gardner identifies. Rather than make these students feel like failures, schools should nurture them by helping develop their talents.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles

Congratulations for recognizing Howard Gardner's genius. Since we have been using Gardnerian (multiple) intelligences in corporate training for almost a decade with consistently good results, you are preaching to the choir.

Students whose strengths are not linguistic and logical-mathematical generally do poorly in school. This harms their self-image and performance as adults. When they are shown that they have strengths in other intelligences, there is often a rise in self-esteem that results in improved performance. For example, a 12-year-old boy scored an 85 using the normal IQ test. When he was given other methods of understanding the questions, his IQ soared to 135. He went on to become a successful architectural designer.

A simple, nonlinguistic method to test multiple intelligences has been developed. It provides remarkably reproducible and meaningful results. I believe Gardner's work is a vital contribution to enhancing learning and training in the U.S.

Frank Clement

Boulder Center

of Accelerative Learning

Boulder, Colo.Return to top


Robert D. Hof put his finger on a vital point in his review of Where Wizards Stay Up Late ("Where did the Net come from, Daddy?" Books, Sept. 16). The book identifies many of the bright young people who first saw how to link computers so they could talk to each other without special preparation. The principal inventor, whom all the others admired, was J.C.R. Licklider of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Few of these innovators are known to the public because they created the Internet in a collegial atmosphere, lacking in ego and greed. I was there in 1950-56 and saw it. Part of their idealism was due to Licklider's personality. He was driven by science and was uninterested in credit. Part of their idealism was also due to the cold war. We feared the Soviets might get ahead of us. There was little time for patent disputes when the nation seemed in danger.

In my philosophy, this is the way it ought to be. I am saddened to think we have become so hardened by self-interest that we forget how science is supposed to work.

I like Where Wizards Stay Up Late because it shows American brains and industry at their best. This is what can be done when we ignore the lawyers and work together.

William J. McGill

President Emeritus

Columbia University

New YorkReturn to top

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