Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Are You Friends With The Tiger Mama?
The answer: no. But, she has everyone talking though. Time had a huge piece on her in this last issue, and in our local paper there has been much editorial/commentary.
There are a few, and only a few, concepts of hers that I actually believe in.
1. I like to praise my sons for effort and hard work. My oldest is very motivated with his scripture memory. Every night we lay in bed and work on his verses. He's driven and tries to learn at least three a night. His dad asked him if he thought he'd be able to say them all (roughly 10) at Awana's. "Yeah, because I am so good at it." Well, I am glad he has such a healthy self-image, but I really have been telling him that he's doing so well with his verses because he's working hard at it and putting in the time to learn them. AND, he's the one driving this passion. I'm supporting it.
It does bother me that we, our society, tend to praise and give awards for being mediocre. I want awards, grades, praise to mean something and be the result of excellence. So, I get this approach to parenting, but the Tiger Mom is going far. I love all my son's efforts too, and I never belittle their attempts at trying a new skill or hobby. I think there is a reason why Asian girls ages 14 and 15 have such high suicide rates. That is not something I want to foster as a parent.
2. That our job as parents isn't to shield our children from all hardship or situations that are tough. Our job is to give them problem-solving skills and creative thinking so they know how to help themselves in less-than-ideal situations.
But, I'm not willing to say that the Chinese way is the more superior way. I just don't buy the test scores. I'm actually quite tired of all the test scores and how politicized it has made education.
I think we all know that tests do not give the full picture, right?
I had a brief teaching stint at a university and loved all my students from China. They worked hard. Were conscientious. Always wanted to do assignments right, and would try and try again until they got it.
However, they struggled to give their opinions. Form opinions. Think creatively. They were eager to learn, and often commented on how different this style of teaching/learning was. They loved it though. They liked the freedom they experienced in my classroom. As long as you could support your literary critique, it was valid.
They struggled with class discussion, jumping in and asserting their opinions. These Chinese students marveled at their American counterparts who were so comfortable in this setting.
I think we, China and the US, are two distinct cultures who value very different things, and I for one am glad to be raising my children in this one.