This morning I was reading this article in the Atlantic which delves into the highly disputed arena of Siblings, Performance and Education. A new study provides evidence that the oldest child in a family performs better on tests throughout childhood.
There are four children in my family and I am the oldest. Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl and we are all about 1 1/2 to 2 years apart.
Now, as a biased and oldest sibling, I would have to concur with the study.
Since I am the oldest, I have always felt a little bit set-apart from my younger siblings. In terms of scholastic endeavors I tested better and performed better GPA wise throughout elementary and through high school. I went to a more esteemed ( at least more expensive) college. I attended Columbia University vs one sibling who did not attend college vs one who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the youngest attended and graduated from BYU Idaho.
What the study does not account for is dreams and desire. My three younger siblings all had different long-term goals. My sister who did not attend college was successful in becoming a Sheriff, my brother took a heavier/harder course-load than I did ( I would have failed at half of his classes). And yet my youngest sister is off in graduate school right now - which is further than I would have ventured into education.
In sports I rowed lightweight crew and studied Muay Thai. They were extremely strenuous activities. And I was excellent at both sports. Winning state championships in rowing year after year and aerobic to an unflinching degree. My siblings not so much. Hardcore sports were not their cup of tea. But I always had a competitive desire to win. And there were activities I undertook which pushed me to new limits.
Foreign languages and travel have been hallmarks to my personal voyage through life. I have always sought out new places and experiences. Perhaps I felt tired of suburbia, but my siblings have never felt more at home than in California. If there was a way to go somewhere as a kid and as an adult, than I have taken that plane ticket, run-down bus, steel-lugged bicycle and worn tennis shoes to the maximum. The adventure in my heart is infectious. Through the years I have had the good fortune of sharing some of these travails. Slowly but surely my siblings are starting to get the travel bug themselves. But solo sojourns have been my hallmark for over a decade and a half.
Does my proclivity towards strenuous activity, foreign travel and education mean I am smarter? I would say no. I think it just means I have different goals than my brother and sisters.
As long as my siblings are happy than I am happy for them. Whether one or the other is smarter is of little consequence. In fact, I wonder why these surveys and studies exist. What can we learn ultimately through this discourse? Are the younger children in a family doomed to fail? Should we stop at the first child and say no more?
Food for thought I guess.