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Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior - WSJ.com:
Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that "stressing academic success is not good for children" or that "parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun." By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way....What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America.

As much as I disliked Ms. Chua's World On Fire, I can't help wondering if she has any unmarried sisters. Seriously, though...she's on to something here, and it's not just a Chinese thing. RTWT


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 10th, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
Part of the problem you express here is the confusion between grades and mastery in the public school system. You had mastered the material and felt no need to do the additional repetitive work needed to get an A. This is pretty common in a lot of very intelligent kids. I don't have an argument with that, but I will advert to you that Ms. Chua's daughters were almost certainly attending tougher schools than the ones you attended. The public schools are education factories: they take in a large amount of human material and try to produce an "educated adult" as defined by school boards, which are sensitive to political pressure - as they should be. The problem inherent in this model of schools is that if you get kids who don't fit the tolerances of the process, they either have to be forced to fit or be rejected, and that's bad news either way. The other problem is that the schools are being run by entrenched groups of people who have a huge vested interest in making sure no changes are made that would disturb this model, such as merit pay (which strikes at the assumption that teachers are all pretty much the same replaceable parts) or real technological innovation, i.e. consigning rote education in basic facts to software (which would make a bunch of teachers redundant). I don't expect anything to change in the public schools until we give up on them and turn education over to the private sector where it belongs.

(Deleted comment)
Jan. 10th, 2011 04:35 am (UTC)
I don't think we disagree here. We both agree that we need to get that smart, innovative 5% out of the factory and into a learning environment where they can be challenged to do their best in the area they most want to be the best in AND are actually most talented in. The bottom 15%, on the other hand...they're never going to make it in a system deliberately biased toward producing clerks and bookkeepers, and we ought to allow them to opt out into the workforce. The middle 80% need better schools, because most of the public schools are a pile of overpriced shit.

Oh, sure, the ed schools are full of talk about differentiated instruction and learning styles and portfolio-based evaluations, but that's a bunch of CRAP that doesn't work in the real world, where you have hundreds of students to deal with on any given day. Color me cynical, but I've actually taught people in civilian and military schools, and the discipline required to make that sort of thing work just doesn't exist in the public schools I've worked in.
Jan. 10th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
it's well timed - Lisa and I have a 9 year old and a 5.5 year old so we are starting to run these rapids right now with them, and the more engaged you are with getting your kids educated the more your eyes open to the limitations of the systems. I don't got ANY answers at this point... one of the issues with what you both have said (not differentiating and not picking a fight or anything) is that you do not know what 5% are THE 5% when you start - the old joke for the Venture Capital industry, since only 5% of their investments are home run balls, why don't they just fund that 5% and not the other 95%? and there's the rub....

its an interesting thing - and much more complex than it looks on the surface, because
in truth, there is no easily defined "right thing"

Jan. 10th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
...one of the issues with what you both have said (not differentiating and not picking a fight or anything) is that you do not know what 5% are THE 5% when you start...

That's very true, you really have no idea who the bright kids are in the early going. All you can do is keep handing them work and seeing how well they do, and stepping up the difficulty until you find a level at which they aren't spinning their wheels any more. Not too many public schools are set up to operate like that; they mostly seem to be in the grip of an egalitarian fetish that insists that the smart kids need to help the not-so-smart kids so everybody can succeed. Which does nothing for the smart kids and encourages the slower kids to push as much as they can off on the smart kids. :(
Jan. 11th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
yeppers - i have no problem with the more together kids really assuming some responsibility to help those who as struggling a bit as long as its REALLY in an assisting role where the more advanced kid is learning to help and assist - but NOT where "assisting" is just a code word for "we are holding the mart ones back with the average so we dont have to do more work (often too because they dont have the RESOURCES to do it right" - but we will call this mainstreaming of all of them together an advantage and a good thing.....

my kids ae in Friends school (Quakers) and one of the good things is that at 3rd grade (where my 9 year old is) they get an younger keep that they assist in some ways and go to meeting with, etc very japanese in its own way:

but even then, if there is not some executive function to sort kids onto the right tracks, then we are just going to have a system with executive function disorder



Jan. 11th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
In my abortive attempt to get teaching certification, I learned that one of the "worst" things in school administration was "tracking", which is to say putting all the kids who had roughly the same skills in the same class so the teacher could teach to one level, more or less. This was obviously worse than "individualization/ differentiation", which was the insane notion that one teacher could somehow adapt his teaching to kids at up to 30 different skill levels. Because tracking was racist or something. No, I didn't follow the logic in that chain of reasoning either.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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