Monday, September 28, 2009

Interesting Correlation of Traits

This Sunday's Washington Post magazine gave an interesting discussion of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's personality and career. (Disclaimer: Ms. Rhee and I went to Cornell together, but I have never interacted with her.)

Ms. Rhee established her reputation early on:

She said what was on her mind, even if it stung. Finally, one day, her mother had just had it with her daughter's blunt, even brusque, manner. Inza Rhee said to Michelle, "What is wrong with you? You just don't care what people think of you!"

Ms. Rhee is known as a take-charge reformer. Her supporters call her direct, driven and zealous. Her enemies consider her rude, tactless and dictatorial. She may not be an Aspie, but she's certainly someone with whom many of us can identify.


Rhee attributes her directness to her roots. "Korean people are not the most tactful," she says. "I grew up with Korean ladies who'd say, 'Gee, you've put on some weight.' It has for as long as I can remember driven me crazy when people beat around the bush instead of saying, 'Look, I need you to do this.'"


[Ms. Rhee's housemates] were initially taken aback by Michelle's frank approach to everything from race relations to love affairs. They soon grew to appreciate that Rhee would stick by them no matter what.

Karla Oakley, who worked for Rhee at the New Teacher Project, which Rhee founded in 1997 in New York to train teachers for inner-city schools, got the full Michelle treatment when she confided in her boss about her doubts and hopes regarding a new boyfriend. Rhee's face instantly gave away her misgivings and Oakley didn't have to wait long before Rhee told her straight out: Get rid of the guy.

"She was right," Oakley says. "She generally is."

Food for thought. Assuming Ms. Rhee is an NT, it seems that also NTs who are blunt can also be very loyal - a linkage we've already associated with Aspies. (And if you want to get it straight from the horse's mouth, she's hosting a live online discussion tomorrow, at 1pm ET.)

Speaking of teaching, ten years ago today at this time I was on a plane crossing the Pacific to start my teaching tour in Beijing. I'll always remember my time there - the food is great, but don't drink the water and don't breathe the air! In fact, I still correspond with a few of my students. And I'll never look at "Chinese" food in America the same way again.


Corrie Howe said...

I haven't read the article yet, but will now. I like people who are direct myself. "Just tell me, good, bad or indifferent. If I have all the facts, I can make a better decision." This is my motto.

I'm encouraged to hear an Aspie is married to an NT. I think this is the case between my husband and myself. He took the Tony Attwood on-line survey for adults and was one point off the range for being an Aspie. My son is definitely on the spectrum, but high functioning.

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