Brooks makes a great point here in the bruha about Amy Chua and her hardcore Chinese mother portrait. Simply put, learning to deal with other people effectively is the most challenging and rewarding skill of all. Indeed, many think that the human brain expanded markedly in order to deal with group dynamics, coupled with speech that allowed for social coordination. I've argued that those with the best communication skills and the attendant ability to "read" other people will take a person to the top of about any group. Group dynamics are a real challenge in any group: at work, in the family, on a team. You name it, and group dynamics are the challenge. Why do young people benefit from athletics, plays, music, and the like? Of course exercise, or musical performance and so on are good in themselves, but learning to work together as a group is the key point. As someone who's a member of and observed athletic teams, I can tell you group cohesion is the sine quo non of success. Ask Coach K or John Wooden if you have doubts. I'm sure other performance coaches will tell you the same thing. So, I think Brooks is right--don't be so easy on your kids, Chua! Make them mix it up!
P.S. I did see one of her daughters defended her in print. I also see that dad, too, is a Yale law professor. I think we have some Pygmalion effect here, too.