Larry Summers likes to view himself as a “hard ass” — his own words — when it comes to educating children. As the demanding president of Harvard University early last decade, he often pushed his own faculty to be tougher with kids. “I found myself fairly frequently saying things that people found to be outrageous,” he said at a dinner on the sidelines of Davos on Wednesday. “I would say, ‘I think you have to decide whether achievement is the route to self-esteem or whether self-esteem is the route to achievement. I think you guys think self-esteem is the route to achievement, and I think you’re wrong.’”
Harvard’s Larry Summers faced off with “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua in a debate at Davos.So Mr. Summers, who has returned as a professor at Harvard after two years as President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser, found himself momentarily flustered when asked to speak at the dinner debate with Yale Law School’s “Tiger Mom,” Amy Chua, whose memoir of her own hard-nosed child-rearing tactics has spurred an international discussion about pushing kids for straight A’s and high academic achievement. His own children would be shocked to hear it, Mr. Summers said, but maybe Ms. Chua is wrong.