Amy Chua’s book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” and her very extreme style of “Chinese parenting,” has brought up some fascinating conversations with my coworkers, husband and friends.
The Wall Street Journal article titled, ” Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” has been an incredible conversation piece for the past few weeks in my world.
From local, bilingual to international schools, the fact of the matter is that we live in China. Culturally speaking, the stress on academics in Asia is higher than many of our western counterparts. The amount of work and quality of work that I see out of a 2nd grader from a local, bilingual and even international schools in Shanghai far surpass my experience in the US education system. Many of my friends attest to the pressure in Shanghai schools for their children to succeed academically. My favorite example of this pressure is what high school students refer to as the “Asian fail” which is a letter grade B , or, even worse, the “Asian suicide” which is a letter grade of C or lower. Like it or not, we are surrounded by elements of the “tiger” mentality in our schools, regardless of what system we decide to enroll our children. It is simply inherent in the culture we live in.
It is important as parents to be attuned to what is going on in schools in regards to the school atmosphere and the peer pressure students have to achieve. Be your child’s advocate and talk to teachers, principals and counselors to find ways to support a healthy level of academic motivation. This is especially true if you are transitioning here from the US or a part of the world where academics is not as emphasized culturally. If you are a new to the whole school search (like me—my eldest is entering Pre-school this Fall), ask lots of questions to the admission staff and people you may know whose children attend the school. Find the “best fit” school for your child’s personality and your style of parenting.
As a Chinese-American mom with a child about to start school, I’m curious to find out if my inner tiger will be unleashed, or, if I can find a way to tame my tiger tendencies in this vast jungle of Shanghai schools. I’ll find out soon enough!