Friday, January 14, 2011

A Little More on Chinese Parenting

Amy Chua responded to some questions on her article in the WSJ about Chinese parenting vs. Western parenting. Here was a particularly interesting one.
Your method may work with children with a native high IQ—but demanding that kind of excellence from less intelligent children seems unfair and a fool’s errand. Demanding hard work and a great effort from children is the best middle ground we can reach philosophically, isn’t it? Your thoughts?
Jokes about A+s and gold medals aside (much of my book is tongue-in-cheek, making fun of myself), I don’t believe that grades or achievement is ultimately what Chinese parenting (at least as I practice it) is really about. I think it’s about helping your children be the best they can be—which is usually better than they think! It’s about believing in your child more than anyone else—even more than they believe in themselves. And this principle can be applied to any child, of any level of ability. My youngest sister, Cindy, has Down syndrome, and I remember my mother spending hours and hours with her, teaching her to tie her shoelaces on her own, drilling multiplication tables with Cindy, practicing piano every day with her. No one expected Cindy to get a PhD! But my mom wanted her to be the best she could be, within her limits. Today, my sister works at Wal-Mart, has a boyfriend and still plays piano—one of her favorite things is performing for her friends. She and my mom have a wonderful relationship, and we all love her for who she is.
Hmmm. That's more balanced than Amy appeared at first. I'm still not completely sold, but this gives a better understanding of the foundational principles and I have to say I agree with them.


Kelly the little black dog said...

So she was interviewed on NPR today and she claims that much of what she was quoted saying was tongue in cheek. The book actually seems to be about her unsuccessful attempt to implement her mother's immigrant style of parenting with her youngest child.

K T Cat said...

She was a MONSTER hit on the WSJ site, even by WSJ standards. Easily the biggest thing they've ever posted, by miles. I read her original article and didn't see it as tongue in cheek at all, but who knows? I do know that if she was trying to drum up publicity for her book, she could hardly have done better.