Monday, March 21, 2011

I am still amazed at the unbelievable nature of the Japanese people. In the wake of their disaster that now brings the almost sure possibility of cancer for the survivors of the devastating tsunami and earthquake, there has not been even one reported case of looting, rape or even an act of selfishness. Now we learn that Asians in general are possibly some of the smartest people on earth or at least the most hardworking in terms of education. Call me a racist but the facts are in. The difference now is that Asians are not afraid to boast about it anymore.
There is a 5 foot half Asian woman, Yale graduate, who has people lining up to buy her new book. Not unusual. What is against the norm is that her book is about her strict background in terms of education and the strong work ethic she is promoting in raising her children. We all see the Asian concert performers of music, the creators of most video games and play-machines and the countless research scientists. They excelled in these fields because they spent hours of their days working as they are now working together to get through their disasters.
She calls her book a memoir, not a research project. Her name is Amy Chua and the book is “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. Critics say it is a how to guide to extreme parenting. The ethic that only the best is good enough is the theme of her parenting. In most American schools, my wife a teacher noticed the ethic was, no child will be left behind, even if he or she can’t read or write well, it will catch up to them later. In American schools, in first grade, spelling is not enforced, just suggested.
Her ethic is no play dates, no computer games, no goofing off. She is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. The American critics are using names like “heartless” to describe her. Parents are concerned about survival in this competitive world. They need to know the best way to get their kids on the path to success. Asians make up less than 5% of the U.S. population but they dominate at Universities. At Harvard, Asians are nearly 13% of all students. At the University of California at Berkley, 34% of students are of Asian decent. Do they all have tiger moms? Or, are they just smart? Or, is education just on the top of their list of things to do?
University of California, Sociologist, Christine Carter worries that when parents demand straight A’s, kids learn the wrong lesson. She says, “They learn that failure is never OK. Knowing who you are, what you want, how to make a mistake, how to pick yourself up, those are all skills that lead to happiness and success in life.“ In the 1993 movie, “The Joy Luck Club” it shows all that achieving can be tough on kids. In this movie, the characters dwell on hours each day practicing piano. My wife, a piano teacher noticed that the Asian students always returned knowing well each and every note in a playing assignment but were somewhat devoid of emotion in their music which should be the most satisfying and reason for wanting to play a composition.
Amy Chua went so far in her demands for perfection for her children that when her daughter said, “This is not China, you can’t make me practice!” she threatened to burn all their stuffed animals and called them names like “garbage”. She touts that it is not abusive.
When we see China succeeding economically and when we see Asian-Americans getting ahead in schools, other American parents wonder. Amy’s children are straight A students extremely proficient on the violin. The oldest child said, “I’m amazed that my mom turned our totally boring life into such a comedic, dramatic and meaningful story.”
In China, the working Mom is the woman side by side their one child allowed whether studying or enjoying a day out together. Their child is their career. They haven’t heard of Amy’s book there. They are sure that they do not fit the ethnic typecast as portrayed in the book- an ambitious, domineering Mom. The pressure to get their one chance at parenting right has the Chinese Mom giving their child more leave-way because they are there constantly to provide support even when their child does not want to work hard. Recently, it has been noted that since the Chinese have more money, they are becoming more American. Lack of parenting leads to kids that are spoiled, beauty pageants and all the expenses associated with it is popular, video games are up and childhood obesity is becoming a problem.
On the flip side, some pressure their children that they succeed academically at any cost.
They have always relied on memorization and mundane tasks not so many “so what do you think projects”. Many are now questioning that and want their one child to have a more relaxed childhood. The Chinese mothers who notice that the year of the Tiger is about to close and they hope their reputation as Tiger Moms will end as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment