Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior Out Today: So Are They?

11 01 2011

About the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:
Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School and author of “Day of Empire” and “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.” This essay is excerpted from “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, published Tuesday (today) by the Penguin Press. . .

JJ’s version: This is the VERY foreign, extremely authoritarian hardass bootstrap model reflecting what Michelle Rhee (among too many conservatives and even those who call themselves humanists and progressives but not too often professional educators), touts as “Putting Students First”, demonstrating why I object to her current influence over Florida’s students, much less her attempted influence over America’s third-millennium public education.

Story here: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior
Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?

And some backlash here:here:

As Gothamist pointed out, the story’s garnered over 1200 comments; it’s clearly hit a nerve, and not necessarily a positive one. To boot, in the words of a commenter: “I initially thought the article was a spoof, because it was so over-the-top narcissistic and, frankly, racist.”

and here:

Some author quotes:

I’ve thought long and hard about how Chinese parents can get away with what they do.

***********
If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

************
Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it’s probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children.

***********
Finally, the day before her lesson, [seven-year-old] Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off.

“Get back to the piano now,” I ordered.

“You can’t make me.”

“Oh yes, I can.”

. . .She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu’s dollhouse to the car and told her I’d donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn’t have “The Little White Donkey” perfect by the next day . . .I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong. . .

I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

Favorite Daughter was a seven-year-old taking piano lessons once upon a time.

The teacher made her cry. I did not.

At 20 now, preparing for summa cum laude university graduation (her accomplishment, not mine) she doesn’t play the piano nor the violin. But oh my, does she love music and do with it things that thrill her mother to her core . . .

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11 responses

11 01 2011
JJ

John Rosemond must be Asian! 😉

Not to mention authoritarian conservative (to be redundant) James Dobson, who doesn’t seem Asian but whose books advise “discipline” like switching babies and small children to make them repentant.

Dobson’s own family was a bit out of the ordinary. His father was a preacher. . .His mother routinely beat their son with her shoes, her belt, and once, a 16-pound girdle. His parents somehow instilled so much guilt in young Dobson that he answered his father’s fervent altar-call, weeping at the front of a crowded church service and crying out for God’s forgiveness for all his sins, when he was three years old.

“It makes no sense, but I know it happened,” Dobson still says of being born again as a toddler.

Maybe that’s the next thing Rhee will want, is a return to corporal punishment thus penitence, throughout the nation’s public schools instead of just throughout the South, where it never left?

11 01 2011
COD

I don’t think I want to live in a world run by Chinese mothers.

11 01 2011
JJ

But you don’t have a choice, if I understand the power of story here. 😉

11 01 2011
JJ

And Chris, you understand practical numbers, right? If no Chinese child would ever get a B — they all get As only, always — then no wonder the Chinese come up first on the nation-by-nation rankings. Billions of As with not a single B sure screws the curve!

11 01 2011
JJ

Putting students first?

China: Abortion Soars
Her parents never talked to her about birth control, nor was it discussed in school. . .

“I considered having the baby,” she says. “But it’s not possible. I am in school and I’ve got to graduate.”

China’s family planning network is enormous and efficient, a virtual population control army that promotes contraception and meticulously logs births, abortions and sterilizations – but it focuses mainly on married couples.

Young people like Yin are falling through the cracks.

12 01 2011
Lynne

I just heard on the radio recently, either NPR or BBC, about China possibly instituting laws and penalties for children who do not take care of their elders.

If they’re such great successes as parents, wouldn’t this be unnecessary?

Maybe the One Child policy was not such a good idea.

12 01 2011
JJ

Hi Lynne, happy new year. 🙂

You make an excellent point, one that used to bother me in American public schools in the same way, when schoolfolk would blame generation after generation of parents (and taxpayers) for all sorts of things. Seems like after a couple of iterations, it’s so obvious and eternal, that today’s parents and citizens were yesterday’s students, and tomorrow’s parents and citizens are today’s students. You want a better class of parent? They’re in your hands right now — so if School focused more on preparing them as good parents and good citizens, instead of endless servitude to every generation’s future as wage slaves to for-profit business agendas and demands, it would make more sense and could hardly get worse results. Heck, even for-profit types and really tough traditional Chinese would have trouble denying the logic! 😉

Speaking of radio, I just drove home from the dentist listening to NPR’s Diane Rehm Show with guest Amy Chua, the Tiger Mother herself.

The segments I heard were the mom sounding almost unschool-friendly! She said the book really was therapy for her and her family after her 13-year-old rebelled and everything blew up in her face. She said it’s the story of her journey to realizing that “nothing is more important than my relationship with my daughter.”

It should be available to hear online by this evening. I want to play the whole thing, maybe even read the book now (clever marketing at work? No matter — I’ve read lots of books with much less reason; at least no one is MAKING me!)

17 01 2011
Lisa

I am so horrified by the fact that Chua gave back the homemade birthday cards her daughters made for her, demanding that they try harder because she deserved better than what they gave her… I almost puked when I read that. I also find it interesting that she is already claiming victory when her daughters are only entering adolescence. Let’s see how those girls do when they go off for college and are on their own. As a freshman English teacher, I have run into perfectionist kids who are smacking into the real world, and it isn’t pretty — anxiety disorder, anorexia, drug use (no doz, amphetamines, etc.), social isolation, alcohol use, and total burnout. Not that these things are guaranteed, but I wouldn’t want to risk it just so my daughter can be a piano prodigy lawyer…

17 01 2011
JJ

Hey Lisa, welcome. 🙂
Nance and all, this is our IRL family friend and English guru Lisa.

Lisa, meet my blog partner Nance, nearly my age but she might have more in common with you and your preschool-mom life at home than with me these days, caring for her young Dear Nephew. Also like you, her parenting philosophy is far removed from Tiger Mother’s . . . lucky Dear Nephew!

This morning is remembered another post and conversation that relates to all this: Hardest Lesson

18 01 2011
Nance Confer

Hi Lisa! Nice to “meet” you. 🙂

And, of course, I agree that this China story is just horrible. My reaction to it is like DH’s reaction to anything bad on the news involving a child — change the channel. So I haven’t studied this as much as I might have.

OTOH, I take some comfort in the sense that this is all just a book promotion tour. And that the Mom may have mellowed a bit.

But I can’t really look at it too closely. It’s just too sad.

But nice to meet you! Off to read about Happy Nashes. 🙂

Nance

24 01 2011
JJ

This is the story of Tampa Mom rather than Tiger Mom. Similar types differing only in where the over-involved maternal ego directs its passions? In this story, which made me squirm all the way through, the adults are so focused on themselves and each other that the actual children wind up pretty much irrelevant. Not an improvement.

“There were problems from the start. . .Like a lot of kids, he got help from his mother in choosing his topic. They spent $250 on supplies . . .

Sure, a parent might get emotional. “I’m a parent, too,” [the supervisor of elementary science] said. “Do we want what’s best for our kids? Absolutely. Do we want our students to do well? That’s just part of being a parent.”

Williams realizes people might think she is out for attention, but insisted she is in these fights for the sake of the children, and not just her own.”I might be a big mouth, but I’m not getting paid for what I do,” she said.

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