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孩子们,去享受争吵吧!

更新时间:2017-11-15 19:34:11 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Kids, Would You Please Start Fighting?
孩子们,去享受争吵吧!

When Wilbur and Orville Wright finished their flight at Kitty Hawk, Americans celebrated the brotherly bond. The brothers had grown up playing together, they had been in the newspaper business together, they had built an airplane together. They even said they “thought together.”

当威尔伯和奥维尔·莱特(Wilbur and Orville Wright)结束在小鹰镇的飞行时,美国人对他们的兄弟情谊大加称赞。他们兄弟俩一起玩耍、一起长大、一起做报纸生意、一起造了一架飞机。他们甚至说两人“一起思考”。

These are our images of creativity: filled with harmony. Innovation, we think, is something magical that happens when people find synchrony together. The melodies of Rodgers blend with the lyrics of Hammerstein. It’s why one of the cardinal rules of brainstorming is “withhold criticism.” You want people to build on one another’s ideas, not shoot them down. But that’s not how creativity really happens.

这就是我们想象中的创造力:充满和谐。我们以为,创新是个神奇的东西,只有人们觉得彼此合拍才会发生,就像罗杰斯(Rodgers)的曲和汉默斯坦(Hammerstein)的词浑然一体一样。这正是为什么头脑风暴的重要原则之一是“保留批评”。你希望人们发展而不是反驳彼此的观点。但其实创造力并不是这样产生的。

When the Wright brothers said they thought together, what they really meant is that they argued together. One of their pivotal decisions was the design of a propeller for their plane. They squabbled for weeks, often shouting back and forth for hours. “After long arguments we often found ourselves in the ludicrous position of each having been converted to the other’s side,” Orville reflected, “with no more agreement than when the discussion began.” Only after thoroughly decimating each other’s arguments did it dawn on them that they were both wrong. They needed not one but two propellers, which could be spun in opposite directions to create a kind of rotating wing. “I don’t think they really got mad,” their mechanic marveled, “but they sure got awfully hot.”

当莱特兄弟说他们一起思考时,他们说的其实是一起争论。他们的重要决定之一是为飞机设计一个螺旋桨。两人吵了好几周,经常一吵就是几个小时。“长时间的争吵过后,经常出现的可笑结果是,我们发现自己转变到了对方那一边,”奥维尔回忆说,“达成的一致意见并不比开始讨论的时候多。”只有在彻底反驳对方的理由后,他们才开始明白,两人都错了。他们需要的不是一个,而是两个螺旋桨。可以让它们朝相反的方向旋转,这样就能形成一种旋转的翅膀了。“我觉得他们不是真的生气,”两人的机械师感叹道,“但的确会相当激动。”

The skill to get hot without getting mad — to have a good argument that doesn’t become personal — is critical in life. But it’s one that few parents teach to their children. We want to give kids a stable home, so we stop siblings from quarreling and we have our own arguments behind closed doors. Yet if kids never get exposed to disagreement, we’ll end up limiting their creativity.

在生活中,情绪激动但不生气的技巧至关重要——要进行一场不会变成人身攻击的有益争论。但很少有父母把这项技巧传授给自己的孩子。我们希望给孩子一个稳定的家,因此我们不让兄弟姐妹争吵,自己吵架时也会关起门来。但如果孩子永远不接触争吵,我们最终会制约他们的创造力。

We’ve known groupthink is a problem for a long time: We’ve watched ill-fated wars unfold after dissenting voices were silenced. But teaching kids to argue is more important than ever. Now we live in a time when voices that might offend are silenced on college campuses, when politics has become an untouchable topic in many circles, even more fraught than religion or race. We should know better: Our legal system is based on the idea that arguments are necessary for justice. For our society to remain free and open, kids need to learn the value of open disagreement.

我们一向知道趋同思维是一个问题:我们目睹注定会失败的战争在不同的声音遭到压制后上演。但此刻,教孩子争论比以往任何时候都更重要。在我们现在所处的这个时代,可能会令人不适的声音在大学校园里被禁止,政治在很多群体中成了一个不可提及的话题,甚至比宗教和种族问题更危险。我们应该明白:要公正必须要有争论,这一理念是我们的法律体制的基石。要想让我们的社会保持自由和开放,必须让孩子知道公开异议的价值。

It turns out that highly creative adults often grow up in families full of tension. Not fistfights or personal insults, but real disagreements. When adults in their early 30s were asked to write imaginative stories, the most creative ones came from those whose parents had the most conflict a quarter-century earlier. Their parents had clashing views on how to raise children. They had different values and attitudes and interests. And when highly creative architects and scientists were compared with their technically skilled but less original peers, the innovators often had more friction in their families. As the psychologist Robert Albert put it, “the creative person-to-be comes from a family that is anything but harmonious, one with a ‘wobble.’ ”

事实证明,极具创造性的成年人往往在充满紧张气氛的家庭中长大。这里不是指打斗或人身侮辱,而是指真正的意见分歧。一项实验要求一些30出头的成年人写出富有想象力的故事,其中最有创意的故事来自那些25年前父母经常发生冲突的人。他们的父母在抚养子女方面存在互相碰撞的观点。他们有着不同的价值观、态度和兴趣。如果拿极具创造力的建筑师和科学家与技术娴熟但缺乏独创性的同行相比,创新者的家庭中往往有着更多摩擦。正如心理学家罗伯特·艾伯特(Robert Albert)所说:“具备创造性潜力的人往往不会来自和谐的家庭,而是来自‘动荡’的家庭。”

Wilber and Orville Wright came from a wobbly family. Their father, a preacher, never met a moral fight he wasn’t willing to pick. They watched him clash with school authorities who weren’t fond of his decision to let his kids miss a half-day of school from time to time to learn on their own. Their father believed so much in embracing arguments that despite being a bishop in the local church, he had multiple books by atheists in his library — and encouraged his children to read them.

威尔伯和奥维尔·莱特就来自这种动荡家庭。他们的父亲是传教士,随时乐于为道德问题同人争执。兄弟俩看着他与校方发生冲突,因为他经常让两个孩子逃半天课,自学其他东西,这种行为令学校不快。他们的父亲非常相信辩论的好处,尽管他是当地教会的主教,但却收藏了许多无神论者的著作,并鼓励他的孩子们阅读。

If we rarely see a spat, we learn to shy away from the threat of conflict. Witnessing arguments — and participating in them — helps us grow a thicker skin. We develop the will to fight uphill battles and the skill to win those battles, and the resilience to lose a battle today without losing our resolve tomorrow. For the Wright brothers, argument was the family trade and a fierce one was something to be savored. Conflict was something to embrace and resolve. “I like scrapping with Orv,” Wilbur said.

如果我们很少看到分歧,就会学着回避冲突。目睹争论,并且参与其中,这可以帮助我们变得更坚强。帮助我们培养出打硬仗的意志,在硬仗中取胜的本领,还有在失败中总结教训,以期明日卷土重来的决心。对于莱特兄弟来说,争论是一种家庭交流方式,激烈的争论更是值得回味。冲突也需要被接受和解决。“我喜欢和奥维尔拌嘴,”威尔伯说。

The Wright brothers weren’t alone. The Beatles fought over instruments and lyrics and melodies. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony clashed over the right way to win the right to vote. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak argued incessantly while designing the first Apple computer. None of these people succeeded in spite of the drama — they flourished because of it. Brainstorming groups generate 16 percent more ideas when the members are encouraged to criticize one another. The most creative ideas in Chinese technology companies and the best decisions in American hospitals come from teams that have real disagreements early on. Breakthrough labs in microbiology aren’t full of enthusiastic collaborators cheering one another on but of skeptical scientists challenging one another’s interpretations.

莱特兄弟并不是唯一的例子。“披头士”为乐器、歌词和旋律而争吵;伊丽莎白·卡迪·斯坦顿(Elizabeth Cady Stanton)和苏珊·B·安东尼(Susan B. Anthony)在为女性争取投票权的正确方式上发生冲突;史蒂夫·乔布斯(Steve Jobs)和史蒂夫·沃兹尼亚克(Steve Wozniak)设计第一台苹果电脑时不断争论。他们的成功不是因为克服了这些纷扰——他们恰恰是靠着纷扰而成长。在头脑风暴小组中,当成员们被鼓励相互批评时,创意会增加16%。中国科技公司中最有创意的想法,乃至美国医院中的最佳决策,都来自早期存在分歧的团队。在微生物学领域的前沿实验室里,并不是一群激情洋溢的合作者们彼此欢呼道贺,而是几个充满怀疑精神的科学家相互质疑对方的解释。

If no one ever argues, you’re not likely to give up on old ways of doing things, let alone try new ones. Disagreement is the antidote to groupthink. We’re at our most imaginative when we’re out of sync. There’s no better time than childhood to learn how to dish it out — and to take it.

如果没有人同你争辩,你就不可能放弃旧的做法,更不用说尝试新的做法。分歧是群体性思维的解毒剂。当我们意见不一时,正处于最有想象力的状态。要想学习如何提出并接受不同意见,童年堪称最佳时期。

As Samuel Johnson was growing up, his parents argued constantly. He described a family as “a little kingdom, torn with factions and exposed to revolutions.” He went on to write one of the greatest dictionaries in history, one that had a lasting impact on the English language and wasn’t supplanted until the Oxford English Dictionary appeared more than a century later. Who would be more motivated and qualified to clean up a messy language than someone whose household was filled with it?

在塞缪尔·约翰逊(Samuel Johnson)成长的过程中,他的父母经常争论。他说自己的家庭是“一个派系林立的小王国,常常爆发革命”。后来,他编纂了史上最伟大的一本字典,对英语语言产生了深远影响,直到一个世纪后《牛津英语词典》(Oxford English Dictionary)问世才被取代。还有谁比这个家里充斥着这种混乱语言的人更有动力、更有资格去整理它?

Children need to learn the value of thoughtful disagreement. Sadly, many parents teach kids that if they disagree with someone, it’s polite to hold their tongues. Rubbish. What if we taught kids that silence is bad manners? It disrespects the other person’s ability to have a civil argument — and it disrespects the value of your own viewpoint and your own voice. It’s a sign of respect to care enough about someone’s opinion that you’re willing to challenge it.

孩子们需要知道有思想的分歧的价值。不幸的是,许多父母教导孩子,如果他们不同意别人的观点,那么就应该礼貌地保持沉默。胡说。我们应该教导孩子,沉默是不礼貌的。这是不尊重他人具备文明辩论的能力,不尊重你自己的观点和声音的价值。在乎别人的观点、愿意去挑战它,是尊重他人的一种表现。

We can also help by having disagreements openly in front of our kids. Most parents hide their conflicts: They want to present a united front, and they don’t want kids to worry. But when parents disagree with each other, kids learn to think for themselves. They discover that no authority has a monopoly on truth. They become more tolerant of ambiguity. Rather than conforming to others’ opinions, they come to rely on their own independent judgment.

我们在孩子面前公开表达分歧也是有益的。大多数父母隐藏他们的冲突:他们想让孩子们看到父母的想法一致,不想让他们担心。但是,当父母意见不一致时,孩子们能学会独立思考。他们会发现,并不存在掌握全部真理的权威。他们对歧义有更多包容。他们不会盲目遵从别人的意见,而是依靠自己的独立判断。

It doesn’t seem to matter how often parents argue; what counts is how they handle arguments when they happen. Creativity tends to flourish, Mr. Albert, the psychologist, found, in families that are “tense but secure.” In a recent study of children ages 5 to 7, the ones whose parents argued constructively felt more emotionally safe. Over the next three years, those kids showed greater empathy and concern for others. They were friendlier and more helpful toward their classmates in school.

父母争论的频率似乎无关紧要;重要的是他们如何进行争论。心理学家艾伯特发现,在“紧张但安全”的家庭中,创造力往往会蓬勃发展。在最近的一项针对5至7岁儿童的研究中,在父母能够进行建设性争论的家庭里,孩子们在情感上感觉更安全。在之后的三年里,那些孩子更关心他人,更有同情心。他们在学校里对同学更友好,更乐于帮忙。

Instead of trying to prevent arguments, we should be modeling courteous conflict and teaching kids how to have healthy disagreements. We can start with four rules:

我们不应该试图阻止争论,而是应该建立礼貌争论的模式,教孩子们如何进行有益的争论。我们可以先从遵守以下四条规则开始:

• Frame it as a debate, rather than a conflict.

• 将它定义为辩论,而非冲突;

• Argue as if you’re right but listen as if you’re wrong.

• 争论的时候假设你是对的,倾听的时候假设你是错的;

• Make the most respectful interpretation of the other person’s perspective.

• 对他人的观点进行最具敬意的阐释;

• Acknowledge where you agree with your critics and what you’ve learned from them.

• 承认你在哪些方面与你的批评者意见一致,以及你从他们那里学到了什么。

Good arguments are wobbly: a team or family might rock back and forth but it never tips over. If kids don’t learn to wobble, they never learn to walk; they end up standing still.

有益的争论是摇晃的:一个团队或一个家庭可能会来回摇摆,但它永远不会倾倒。如果孩子们不会摇晃,就永远不会走路,只能静止不动。

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