Overseas Chinese students’ reactions to the “Tiger Mom” parenting controversy

January 27, 2011Chiafu Chen 陳家福27 Comments, , , , , , , , , , ,

Chia-fu: By far, I think it is safe to assume that the majority of MiniTofu readers have heard of the name Amy Chua, aka the “Tiger Mother”. (For those uninitiated, read here and here. ) As a frequenter to Chinese forums, I came across this interesting and quite provocative thread on MITBBS, a famous online community for overseas Chinese students. Upon reading it, I immediately came to the realization that it merits an English translation.

Disclaimer: translation does not imply endorsement or disproval.

novel127:

Amy Chua controversy exposes the West’s hostility towards other “non-mainstream” cultures

Many Americans reacted strongly [to this controversy], although many of them would privately admit she has a point. The author allegedly received death threats, all because of her opinion that the Chinese mother’s parenting style is better than their American counterparts. I am not here to argue which is better; what is interesting is the fact that this controversy exposed the narrow-mindedness and insecurity of the Americans. On one hand, Americans envy the academic achievement of Asian kids, but as soon as someone points out that the Asian education style is superior, Americans immediately jumped up and let loose vituperation. Why?
1. The long-established feeling of superiority of Americans/Westerners. They feel that other cultures and races are non-mainstream and are backward. Now there comes someone, a professor from the prestigious university Yale, who points out in a high-profile that the Chinese parenting style is superior. This naturally caused a powerful shock, it’s like slapping the Americans in the face, with their narrow-mindedness in full disclosure.
2. These days the Western media has been advocating their China threat theory day and night. Many Westerners have anxieties about China. [Chua's] article is like adding fuel to the flames, which accentuated American’s feeling of insecurity.

Selected replies to the post:
moon6:

The round-eyed hairy white people are still very arrogant + ignorant. Of course, there are some well-educated whites, but their voices have been buried [ignored] among the voices of the ignorant.

Sherry1986:

The foundation of Americans’ self-esteem is their feeling of superiority. Other than that, there cannot be another force that is capable of uniting all of those ethnic groups together, all having vastly different beliefs and ethnic characteristics. As soon as the feeling of superiority vanishes, America will be reduced to an incoherent hodgepodge, during which time no group is willing to succumb to other groups and everyone will account their own failure to others’ mistakes. The end result is that the country['s system] is no longer sustainable.

MB80528:

This is no more than the American people being manipulated to help incite anti-Chinese sentiment by the big owners who have control over the media. [The people] blindly accepts the China threat theory invented by the the owners behind corporate media. It’s just like a gamecock involuntarily harboring hatred towards other gamecocks, completely unware of the fact that they are being manipulated. They are totally unaware of the presence of the conspiring manipulators who engineered this whole cockfighting show.

Davidviggy:

No wonder the other day, one of my [American] students came to me and asked me [about Amy Chua]. He said that he heard about a Chinese mother who believes that when it comes parenting, the Chinese style is better. He ridiculed [the idea].
I’d say that it does sound ridiculous in America. In 30 years’ time when the Chinese dominate the financial sector, [they] will be crying.
A

fanyuzhou:

I would definitely not raise my kids in Amy Chua’s style. This style has a higher chance of resulting in abnormality [in children].

majia55:

Everyone knows that the America’s education system has problems and needs a major overhaul. However, they would not trust upon a Chinese [and an outsider] who sleeps with people from other race [referring to the author being married outside her own race] to do the job.

MB80528:

Ethnic groups that hold real power in the States have long begun the implementation of a policy of obscurantism targeted toward other groups. They implant and encourage bad thoughts and values in children from other ethnic groups. What they truly try to promote is “Illiteracy as an Educational Policy”. Now they are most troubled with the Asians, who seemed to have slipped through their fishing net.

zhuangpai:

Save your breath. Tiger mother is the one who is racist, conducting racial profiling to provoke a war. People who reacted just wanted to respond [to her ideas]. The author of this post labels the entire Western population as racially discriminative, and tries to portrait the entire Chinese people as victims. Post author, you don’t happen to work for Tiger Mother, do you?

canghai:

Indeed, there is no need to force kids to learn this and that at such an early age. Let them develop [their interest] on their own, the parent’s job is just to guide the kids and prevent them from going astray in their lives.

alwayskitkat:

She is just too extreme, as if her parenting style was the only way for kids to become successful. I find it very disconcerting reading her article. Look at us: we were all brought up and educated in Chinese parenting style, but none of ours was as over the top as hers. Quote: “my children are never
allowed a sleepover”, “I never allowed my children to participate in school performances” which even in China is quite rare nowadays.

These days Chinese educators all agree that education is not just about exams and we must evolve with times. She still holds on to a few decades old teaching style of Fu Lei, advocating what we have now abandoned and considered ineffective, and she even tries to preach these ideas to Westerners. I feel what she is doing is quite retarded.

dafemrenla:

I beg to differ.

What the [Tiger] mother did was very selfish. She essentially excluded everything unrelated to academic study from her children’s life, especially social activities such as school performances. That is why many Chinese [Americans] are quite self-centered, incapable of contributing back to the society, not to mention becoming an integrated member of the local community.

In fact, many Chinese children are raised in this way, ending up being quite selfish. This Amy person is Philippine Chinese. The ethnic conflict between the Chinese living in Southeast Asia and rest of the local communities they live in has been an established fact. In comparison, just look at how many people from former Southeast Asian colonies still have nostalgic feeling towards the British people.

zoun:

Is Chua, of such extremely utilitarian type, truly qualified to represent the majority of Chinese mothers?

zlike:

Which one of us were not born and raised like this? Were we not beaten up? We even got beaten up at home when caught reading a fiction book by teachers in class. Are we now abnormal/perverted? Do we not love our parents?

[Children who were brought up in] America’s idiotic way of education, are quick in resorting to psychiatric therapies and too often found to have some [mental] “scars” from childhood. Fucking seriously, I grew up getting spanked, and I’ve never had any kind of “scars”.

Original thread in Chinese on mitbbs.com.

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27 comments to “Overseas Chinese students’ reactions to the “Tiger Mom” parenting controversy”

  1. icecat77 | January 27, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Being familiar with the "social" activities of overseas Chinese students, I have to assume that those complaining about the "arrogance" and "racism" of Westerners are more than likely those who spend zero amount of effort trying to meet non-Chinese people in their various countries of study. It's one of the biggest hypocrisies of this population that they purposefully isolate themselves from non-Chinese people, only to turn around and whisper "racism" to people back home. No doubt that some in this community have come across prejudice abroad, but in my experience most of these "events" are exacerbated in the so-called victims' imaginations by the paranoia of these communities' and individuals' self-isolation. If Chinese students actually spent time trying to make friends with people other than other Chinese, they might find that the majority of Westerners are in fact very different from the vitriolic descriptions they spread about on the Chinese web.

    • Ahmed Sanchez De La | January 27, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      I think what you said pretty much applies to most people commenting on Internet blogs and websites in general, whether they be Chinese or not.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susan (賀念慈), Ministry of Tofu 豆腐部. Ministry of Tofu 豆腐部 said: Overseas Chinese students’ reactions to the “Tiger Mom” parenting controversy http://dlvr.it/F9845 [...]

  3. DragonSeer | January 27, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Chinese parents view children as walking retirements funds that must be pushed, prodded, dragged and beaten to produce high scores to enter a Chinese University. Perversely, merit is ALWAYS second to family connections and cash anyway, so dullards with rich parents will trump intelligence every day.

    At university, students enter semi-retirement. They know they'll get a "Gentleman's C" at worst and all they need to do is cut and paste from the Internet and openly cheat on "exams" to pass.

    After they graduate, they'll return home and wait for mummy and daddy to buy them a "boss" job they are wholly unqualified for so they can read newspapers and slurp noodles until mid afternoon when the bosses go to the KTV bars for karaoke and prostitutes until they stagger home "late" at 9:30 p.m. vomiting on their cheap black suits.

    The 'Tiger Moms" have spawned a generation of entitled, narcissistic, generally merit-less princlings and princesses. There are a few exceptions, but, that's the scene on the ground.

    • Schlombulu | January 28, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      Well put. The other aspect is the emotional vacuity of these so-called "adults". Their version of love is a demand that their children emotionally fill them up (which is actually impossible) with unlimited love and respect until they day they die — which they accomplish through all manner and means of blackmail. They don't have children, they have hostages.

  4. duckfarts | January 28, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I can see a lot of good points from Amy Chua's piece(no, really), but I do not believe that "everything they do is for their children" is an accurate statement – I believe it's quite the opposite, in that this is done in a drive to "create" what they believe to be a successful child in order to feel a sense of accomplishment or have a higher social standing. The success of the child is a reflection of the parent's efforts and abilities, and so a child who is doing worse than other families' children means that the parent is raising them poorly, and is in effect, a failure. This is a big deal in Chinese culture, where face is extremely important and can determine the amount of respect one is given.

    I don't wish to say that every Chinese(or Asian, really) parent who has this kind of a strict style doesn't genuinely want their children to succeed. However, there is this selfish aspect to this kind of parenting that acts as a major motivator, and drives the "no matter what it takes" mentality that seeks to produce results by any means necessary, even if the parent does not have full understanding of what is needed. In essence, you can fit a square peg through a round hole, if you hammer on it enough.

    • aaa | February 10, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      as one child of a community of so-called "tiger moms" (this description may be off for some moms) from Cincinnati, I do agree with the reflection of success. If I went to a better college I know I would have a higher self-esteem around our seasonal get-togethers.
      Kids that go to better schools are more celebrated and lauded as examples to the rest of us. This is a fact.

  5. nazi mom sucks | January 29, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    As an Asian-American, I find Amy Chua's book a piece of garbage that should be used to keep me warm by burning it in my fireplace. She speaks for herself and her bank account not for other Normal Chinese-Americans who are brought up without a "Nazi-Mom".

  6. Chris8tine | January 31, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I found the article thought-provoking. No, I don't think I would raise my children that way but she does point out an over-emphasis by American (not Western – having lived and studied in several other "Western" countries I would emphasize that every culture's educational and parental style is very different) parents and educators on self-esteem. Several American writers have published on this subject and put forward theories that concentrating too much on 'self-esteem' and not enough on actual merit and achievement may actually cause not happiness, but depression.

    I have to agree with some of the comments, though, that focussing solely on achievement won't necessarily lead to a happy or successful child. In the business world, networking is crucial. And many tests of happiness show that those that are happiest are those with the strongest social network, not necessarily the ones that have achieved the most.

    As for the death threats, there are always a few wierdos, aren't there? My feeling from the article wasn't that the author was trying to convince us all to be like her, but rather putting forward the theory that (her view of) the typical American style may have its flaws. It makes you think – but there are always some people who would prefer not to.

  7. Doalright | April 26, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    The power of America is the flexibility that comes from blurred class lines and relaxed formalities. High marks and hard work makes for well trained monkeys but that's not all it takes to rule the jungle. I think the massive focus on grades is silly. Most people who are able to learn complicated material are of a certain intelligence and except for the rare genius, all that's different between a 3.7 student and a 4.0 student is that the latter is willing to study until his eyes dry out. Seems that extra effort would be better spent thinking up business ideas or networking.

  8. Andre M. Smith | January 2, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.

    Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn’t conduct this at age 50! And he isn’t the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.

    And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!

    For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it’s practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.

    Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.

    Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.
    ______________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  9. [...] “Tiger cubs on the prowl” by Mark Clifford pointed out the shift in these tiger cubs. (Read our story on Tiger Mom) Their elders have given them many names, mostly pejorative: Japan calls them the “herbivore [...]

  10. Andre M. Smith | January 19, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Amy Chua has never lived in China. Her understanding of its culture, that is, the culture as it’s truly lived by the indigenous people in their dailyness, then must be that of the tourist. Here perhaps is one view of a China she may or may not have seen.

    http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_5057209_1.html [Each of the four pictures can be enlarged for clearer viewings.] In what likely is Nanning, the capitol of Guang Xi region, the boy was caught stealing money to pursue his addiction in Internet gaming. (This is a common problem in China, especially among adolescent boys. http://playnoevil.com/serendipity/index.php?/archives/1076-China-continues-focus-on-Internet-Addiction-Reading-the-Tea-Leaves.html) As punishment his father has publicly stripped off the boy’s clothes, lathered him with some unstated brown caking (which I shall discretely hope is mere mud), bound his hands behind his back, and then pulled him on his back and buttocks by one foot for disgrace through a very-public area of the city.

    On contemporary corporal punishment in China:

    A third of them [child respondents] said corporal punishment negatively affected their personalities, causing them to become introverted and depressed.

    Legal experts cited by the paper said China should ban corporal punishment in its marriage laws to protect children from physical and psychological harm and to protect the rights of minors.

    They blamed the common occurrence of corporal punishment in China on the traditional belief that children were a part of their parents, not individuals. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-12/07/content_397964.htm

    The routine beatings allegedly given to child gymnasts in China are no different to the corporal punishment that was once part of daily life in English public schools, according to the head of the Olympic movement.

    Mr Rogge said he believed that if physical punishment is being used to train young athletes in China, then it is likely to be confined to sports such as gymnastics and swimming, where the age of competitors is much younger than in the other Olympic sports. What is not known is how widespread the practice is. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/1504716/Chinas-abuse-of-its-athletes-is-no-different-to-Britains-public-schools-says-Olympics-chief.html

    “It was a pretty disturbing experience. I was really shocked by some of what was going on. I know it is gymnastics and that sport has to start its athletes young, but I have to say I was really shocked. I think it’s a brutal programme. They said this is what they needed to do to make them hard.

    “I do think those kids are being abused. The relationship between coach and child and parent and child is very different here. But I think it goes beyond the pale. It goes beyond what is normal behaviour. It was really chilling.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2368416/Olympics-Pinsent-upset-at-Chinese-abuse.html

    Anyone who thinks the Chinese are a race of genteel pacifists who, collectively, design their lives to awaken every morning wiser than they went to bed the night before is a candidate for some serious awakening of his own. As a whole person Amy Chua is a type; she is not an aberration.

    Now, for one question I have not seen asked anywhere. . . Does Professor Chua play a music instrument? If so, let’s hear some of it. If not, from what sources has she gathered her standards about music technique and style and how they might be taught to a very young child who has shown no particular affinity for any instrument? Can she play any music from what she has demanded from either of her two daughters? Can she play simultaneously triplets in the left hand and duolets in the right? Can she perform, even modestly, http://www.alfred.com/samplepages/00-16734_01~02.pdf, the composition she has demanded her post-toddler daughter play with assurance?

    There can be no doubt that Professor Chua likes violence, so long as it’s not directed at her, the core definition of a bully. She has said recently that there are parts of the world in which some of her parenting techniques might be considered child abuse. I do wish she could be persuaded to name (1) which some of those parts of the world are, (2) just which parenting techniques she is referring to, and (3) why she believes those same techinques should not be defined as child abuse in her home state of Connecticut.

    How did such a reprehensible woman obtain a position so high up on the feeding chain with so little prior experience in law education?

    HUSBAND, faculty of Yale Law School since 1990 : Jed Rubenfeld
    WIFE, faculty of Yale Law School since 2001 : Amy Chua

    As the lawyers may put it, Let the evidence speak for itself. The Tiger Mom has made it on her own claws.

    One last question: Who prevents Professor Chua from sitting on a toilet or eating a meal when, at any given moment, she is vexed beyond her capacity to complete an academic assignment or any other professional obligation within the proper time allocated for its completion?

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  11. Andre M. Smith | January 19, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Continuing to follow the saga of what may be one of the more outrageous examples – and there are similar examples aplenty! – of the child abuses of Amy Chua, I think it timely and prudent to provide a healthy, humane counterpoint by way of a much different kind of example of adult guidance to a young stranger. To wit:

    ADVICE TO A YOUNG PERSON INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN THE LAW

    In May 1954, M. Paul Claussen, Jr, a 12-year-old boy living in Alexandria, Virginia, sent a letter to Mr Justice Felix Frankfurter in which he wrote that he was interested in “going into the law as a career” and requested advice as to “some ways to start preparing myself while still in junior high school.” This is the reply he received:

    My Dear Paul:
    No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he is a cultivated man. If I were you I would forget about any technical preparation for the law. The best way to prepare for the law is to be a well-read person. Thus alone can one acquire the capacity to use the English language on paper and in speech and with the habits of clear thinking which only a truly liberal education can give. No less important for a lawyer is the cultivation of the imaginative faculties by reading poetry, seeing great paintings, in the original or in easily available reproductions, and listening to great music. Stock your mind with the deposit of much good reading, and widen and deepen your feelings by experiencing vicariously as much as possible the wonderful mysteries of the universe, and forget about your future career.
    With good wishes,
    Sincerely yours,
    [signed] Felix Frankfurter

    From THE LAW AS LITERATURE, ed. by Ephraim London, Simon and Schuster, 1960.
    __________________

    I knew that a Paul Claussen had been a major figure (1972-2007) in the Office of the Historian of The United States Department of State in Washington, with an abiding interest in The Great Seal of The United States. http://diplomacy.state.gov/documents/organization/101044.pdf
    An obituary of Dr Claussen is on page 47 in http://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/86414.pdf
    and http://www.thefreelibrary.com/M.+Paul+Claussen,+history's+friend%3A+office+of+the+historian+suffers+a…-a0167843232

    So, wishing to determine whether or not the elder Claussen was, indeed, the boy writing to Justice Frankfurter in 1954 I wrote to his former colleague at State. The reply received today follows.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: PA History Mailbox
    To: ‘Andre M. Smith’
    Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 10:11 AM
    Subject: RE: Chris Morrison

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    Copied below is the response I received from one of Paul Claussen’s long-time colleagues here in the Office of the Historian.

    Yes it is. The young Paul wanted to be a lawyer and so decided to write Felix Frankfurter and ask for his advice. Frankfurter evidently was taken with his letter and wrote back at length…Frankfurter of course kept a copy and the text of the letter has been published in collections of Frankfurter’s writings.

    Please contact us of you have any additional questions.

    Best regards,
    Chris

    Christopher A. Morrison, Ph.D.
    Historian, Policy Studies Division
    U.S. Department of State
    Office of the Historian (PA/HO)
    _________________________________

    Dr Claussen did follow the advice of Justice Frankfurter. And he came out of that advice none the worse for it. The world is much bigger, richer, more tolerant, and more laden with opportunities than the blinkered view of Amy Chua would have her daughters and fellow fear-laden mothers without Ivy League tenure believe.

    For a very well-balanced alternative to the mania – and it is nothing less – to which the many Chuas of the world subscribe, read the refreshingly informed reports on http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2009-12-04&section=3&id=2, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/28/china, and http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/10/16/liberalarts
    ________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  12. Andre M. Smith | January 19, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I divide my year annually between New York and Shanghai. One of my common visitations in the latter city is to the area in and around The Shanghai Conservatory of Music. About four years back the school built a large new building on Fenyang Lu. Along the street side is a lower level with a string of music stores stocked with new instruments. In four of those stores I counted, literally, one trumpet, one horn, one trombone, no tuba, two flutes, one clarinet, one oboe, no bassoon, a handful of strings (but no string bass), and two-hundred pianos! The single trombone (my instrument) looked and felt like it had been made in an industrial arts school as a class project. I asked one of the clerks how many trombone students were
    then enrolled in the Conservatory. “Five,” he replied. I told him it would be impossible for any serious student of that instrument to plan advancement playing such useless metal and asked what brand of instruments are taught upstairs. All the trombones were imported by the school, only as needed, from Yamaha in Japan. But, why the sea of pianos?

    Most parents do not want their children spending, i.e., wasting, their time on any instrument for which a student can not enter a contest and win prizes. Prizes mean medals and certificates, which Mommy and Daddy can display as their own achievements by extension. It is the major conservatories in China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, and Wuhan) which are responsible for continuing to nurture this false status, while, visually at least, giving the external impression that China is a major cultural locus of Western classical music. Anyone who has heard the wind sections of a major symphony orchestra in China will hear just how major the cultural locus is in China for those instruments. Naïve morons; school and parent alike!

    For the serious student having neither interest nor ability to become a
    graduate of Harvard Medical School, this phony sequence of contest successes may lead to Juilliard in New York or Curtis in Philadelphia. “If a clown like Lang Lang can make it, then so can my little angel. Who is, of course, the most adept keyboard wizard to blossom since Lawrence Welk or Rachmaninoff.” Stage mothers: Away with them!

    All of this clap-trap nonsense has no relationship whatsoever to two very important issues: music or Asian American. It is, with the rarest of exceptions, largely Oriental in the homeland. Atavistic immigrants from those eastern cultures or those descended directly therefrom – like the ever-psychobashing Kommandant Amy Chua – have some untested, sentimental notion that music opens doors and ensures careers in whatever direction the unmusical music student chooses; which the student is free to choose, so long as it isn’t music. (Try to figure out that one. “You are free to study physics or mathematics, so long as you don’t attempt to make a career of them.”)

    For the past forty years during my own studies in medicine and music in New York I have been wedded to and worked closely with and around nurses, physicians, surgeons, and medical technicians active in all the standard disciplines. Those persons have come from all modern regions of the world. And, yes, some of my coworkers have come from the beloved Harvard Medical School. But, I can write with authority, the number of those professional persons who have had any direct contact at any times in their lives with piano or violin is insignificantly small.

    No one has ever wasted time typing me as a wimp. Nevertheless, with an Amy Chua of my own only thinly masking a contempt while ostensibly trying to encourage me before the age of ten by classing me as “garbage, “lazy,” “useless,” and a host of other niceties (a savage, a juvenile delinquent, boring, common, low, completely ordinary, a barbarian) all the while forbidding me to sit on a toilet until I can play triplets in one hand against duolets in the other mechanistically en duo with a metronome might have (likely would have) set me up both for advanced training to climb The Texas Tower and chronic constipation.
    ___________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  13. Andre M. Smith | January 20, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Professor Chua is a woefully ill-informed parent, one ignorant of just what is happening in some parts of education in America. Fully confident in her presumed success as a writer with an editorial staff at Penguin shadow boxing for her and unapologetically wearing her signature plastic smile for public appearances, the Lawyer Chua is trying to persuade and convince; on both counts controversially, but with enough negative reactions to cause her subsequently to attempt a dilution of the intensity in her initial self-congratulatory tirade by latterly asserting that her writing is merely one person’s experiences of some trying times in motherhood. To gain working points among the Old-Boy network, the prime lubricant of Yale, Professor Chua initially claimed that she is a Tiger Mom as Chinese maternal type; Fierce! When that showpiece veneer didn’t sit well with mothers who are the real thing, i.e., mothers from China, this faux cat altered the validity of her claim to violence by stating that she is a Tiger Mom because she was born in 1962, a Year of the Tiger. That a tenured Professor of Yale can – must? – openly justify her self-classification with superstitious underpinning should provide anyone what is needed to draw a conclusion about the level of intellect afoot in Yale Law School. Professor? Indeed!

    Any of Chua’s public statements of the purposes of her work evolve to fit the tenor of the evolving criticisms directed at it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/amy-chua-tiger-mom-book-one-year-later_n_1197066.html It has passed, in her own words, from (1) practical handbook for parenting to (2) tongue-in-cheek (whatever that’s supposed to mean), to (3) memoir, (4) satire, (5) parody, (6) “a coming of age book for parents” (7) “the book is about a journey”; and who knows what else as she makes the rounds of the book circuit trying to snare yet more unsuspecting purchasers into her net. That she can, without blushing, class a single work with such a range causes me to wonder what kind of grade she got at Harvard for her command of the English language. She’s Trollope (the author), Pope (the author), The Wicked Witch in Hansel und Gretel and Gullible’s Travels all penned together into one oversized Pamper. Anyone who can’t read the monetary cynicism driving the kaleidoscope of this whole Tiger Mom scam and its spurious, unproven claimed insights into parenting, with variant latter-day reflections by the author herself, deserves to have paid full retail price for this book.

    “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why-asian-americans-like-me-are-in-therapy/
    Stamp collecting, fishing, lazing about on a summer day, science club, Brownie Scouting, baseball, birthday parties, church annual picnic, kite flying, visiting relatives, kissing, jumping rope, student council, insect classification . . . Away with this woman! “Fun” must be one of the more overused, misunderstood words in the American lexicon. Chinese parent = The Model Minority? In China?

    “I’m happy to be the one hated.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why-asian-americans-like-me-are-in-therapy/

    “If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. http://amychua.com/

    That’s it perfectly stated in Tigerese: Either / Or; not both. Amy Chua is a chameleonic con artist. PT. Barnum certainly was right, one “. . . born every minute!”

  14. Andre M. Smith | January 23, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I divide my year annually between New York and Shanghai. One of my common visitations in the latter city is to the area in and around The Shanghai Conservatory of Music. About four years back the school built a large new building on Fenyang Lu. Along the street side is a lower level with a string of music stores stocked with new instruments. In four of those stores I counted, literally, one trumpet, one horn, one trombone, no tuba, two flutes, one clarinet, one oboe, no bassoon, a handful of strings (but no string bass), and two-hundred pianos! The single trombone (my instrument) looked and felt like it had been made in an industrial arts school as a class project. I asked one of the clerks how many trombone students werethen enrolled in the Conservatory. “Five,” he replied. I told him it would be impossible for any serious student of that instrument to plan advancement playing such useless metal and asked what brand of instruments are taught upstairs. All the trombones were imported by the school, only as needed, from Yamaha in Japan. But, why the sea of pianos?

    Most parents do not want their children spending, i.e., wasting, their time on any instrument for which a student can not enter a contest and win prizes. Prizes mean medals and certificates, which Mommy and Daddy can display as their own achievements by extension. It is the major conservatories in China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, and Wuhan) which are responsible for continuing to nurture this false status, while, visually at least, giving the external impression that China is a major cultural locus of Western classical music. Anyone who has heard the wind sections of a major symphony orchestra in China will hear just how major the cultural locus is in China for those instruments. Naïve morons; school and parent alike!

    For the serious student having neither interest nor ability to become a graduate of Harvard Medical School, this phony sequence of contest successes may lead to Juilliard in New York or Curtis in Philadelphia. “If a clown like Lang Lang can make it, then so can my little angel. Who is, of course, the most adept keyboard wizard to blossom since Lawrence Welk or Rachmaninoff.” Stage mothers . . . !

    All of this clap-trap nonsense has no relationship whatsoever to two very important issues: music or Asian American. It is, with the rarest of exceptions, largely Oriental in the homeland. Atavistic immigrants from those eastern cultures or those descended directly therefrom – like the ever-psychobashing Kommandant Amy Chua – have some untested, sentimental notion that music opens doors and ensures careers in whatever direction the unmusical music student chooses; which the student is free to choose, so long as it isn’t music. (Try to figure out that one. “You are free to study physics or mathematics, so long as you don’t attempt to make a career of them.”)

    For the past forty years during my own studies in medicine and music in New York I have been wedded to and worked closely with and around nurses, physicians, surgeons, and medical technicians active in all the standard disciplines. Those persons have come from all modern regions of the world. And, yes, some of my coworkers have come from the beloved Harvard Medical School. But, I can write with authority, the number of those professional persons who have had any direct contact at any times in their lives with piano or violin is insignificantly small.

    No one has ever wasted time typing me as a wimp. Nevertheless, with an Amy Chua of my own only thinly masking a contempt while ostensibly trying to encourage me before the age of ten by classing me as “garbage, “lazy,” “useless,” and a host of other niceties (a savage, a juvenile delinquent, boring, common, low, completely ordinary, a barbarian) all the while forbidding me to sit on a toilet until I can play triplets in one hand against duolets in the other mechanistically en duo with a metronome might have (likely would have) set me up both for advanced training to climb The Texas Tower and chronic constipation.

    ___________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)Formerly Bass TrombonistThe Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  15. Andre M. Smith | February 5, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Russians call me German, Germans call me Russian, Jews call me a Christian, Christians a Jew. Pianists call me a composer, composers call me a pianist. The classicists think me a futurist, and the futurists call me a reactionary. My conclusion is that I am neither fish nor fowl – a pitiful individual.
    Anton Rubinstein (1829-94), composer, formidable Russian concert pianist, founder of The Saint Petersburg Conservatory (1862). http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=6&oq=%22anton+rubinstein&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGLJ_enUS344US352&q=%22anton+rubinstein%22+youtube&gs_upl=0l0l2l850891lllllllllll0&aqi=g5s3
    __________________________

    WHO or WHAT is AMY CHUA?
    Her father, Leon L. Chua, was born in The Philippines. He was graduated in 1959 from Mapúa Institute of Technology in Manila as a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. His Master of Science followed from MIT in 1961. Amy was born in Champaign, Illinois on 26 October 1962 while Leon was pursuing his studies for a Ph.D. (1964) at The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. And it’s here in this synoptic review that her troubles begin with her shield in a contrived public relations makeover comastered by her publisher, Penguin. She states that she is Chinese. But her surname has not been identified anywhere as Chinese.
    __________________________

    Is the author fully ethnically Chinese? I am wondering because while I certainly have not met every Chinese person who has lived, I have known a fair number of Chinese yet have not met a single Chinese person with the author’s surname. I read somewhere that the author’s surname is a translation of a Chinese surname, Tsai, with which I am familiar. How many generations back in her direct family line, i.e. her parents or her parents’ parents, did her family come from China? I have not previously encountered a person who talks & writes so much about being Chinese & talks on behalf of the vast population of mothers born in China yet her surname & how I have heard it pronounced is very different from that with which I am familiar. While I wish to improve to better fluency in Mandarin, I have spoken enough Mandarin with native speakers to notice I have not heard Mandarin Chinese words pronounced with the same pronunciation as I hear her name pronounced. I truly am curious about what I have read briefly about a historical migration of immigrants, including the author’s ancestors, who immigrated to the Philippines, speak a language seemingly common among those immigrants & bear names that are translations from Mandarin Chinese into such language. It is an interesting occurrence I am curious to know more about. http://www.amazon.com/Chua-Chinese-didnt-already-know/forum/Fx2TW1617UZNULU/Tx2INJY62TIU5CI/1/ref=cm_cd_ef_rt_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&asin=1594202842&tag=jusadbel-20

    Cheap Social Worker said…
    When reading excerpts from Amy Chua’s latest book, I noticed that she left out any reference to her Filipino background. Looking at Chua’s biography, her parents spent a considerable amount of time doing business in the Philippines, with her father even going to school there. Chua also spent a good portion of her childhood going back and forth between the United States and the Philippines, though I wonder if she ever went outside the walls of her gated community to interact with the main population. Given that Filipino values on education are very similar to these “Chinese” values Amy Chua promotes, why does “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” ignore her Filipino heritage completely? http://askthepinoy.blogspot.com/2011/01/does-prof-amy-chua-have-any-other.html

    As a Harvard undergraduate during the years that the author was there, I do not recall the author attending any of the many meetings or social occasions held by the Asian students on campus. Although the book discusses the author’s “Chinese” upbringing, and refers to the Chinese food that she loved as a child and the “high culture” of her Chinese ancestors, there is little in the book to indicate that the author is, or considers herself to be, part of a larger community or network of Asians or Chinese in America, an affiliation that’s critical if the author’s voice is to be heard as at all representative of that community. http://www.amazon.com/review/R180XSBCBH3O89/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1594202842&nodeID=&tag=jusadbel-20=

    It’s not uncommon to hear alcoholics claim that it’s because they’re Irish or to hear that a bad temper is a result of bad genes. Chua is no different, and is justifying her abusive behavior based on the fact that she is Chinese. The reality is that Chua’s style is not a product of her Chinese heritage. Chua has never lived in China; her parents have not either. http://voices.yahoo.com/review-amy-chuas-battle-hymn-tiger-mother-7701018.html?cat=25
    __________________________

    It isn’t at all clear to me when and where Chinese culture came into the heritage of Amy Chua, if indeed it ever has, for the surname Chùa is, in fact, Vietnamese. It means temple and is commonly found in Buddhist and other religious contexts, e.g., (1) Chùa Pháp Hoa – Nam Úc, (2) Chùa Ph?t Tích [Temple of Saint Paul], (3) L? Khánh Thành D?i Hùng B?o Di?n Chùa Quang Minh, ph?n 1, and (4) t?i Chùa Ho?ng Pháp, H?c Môn, Sài Gòn.

    Professor Chua is a graduate of El Cerrito High School in California. http://elcerritogauchos.net/ She claims a superiority of a Chinese culture she has never lived in but is married to a white American Jew. Attempting yet another of her unpersuasive slow-change / quick-change acts she has claimed to have inculcated so-called, but unspecified, Chinese values into her two American daughters. She clearly believes that unrelenting emotional pressure on children and simultaneous denial of affection toward them will improve their physical skills. What implausible culture that has lasted more than seventy-two consecutive hours has advocated such a bizarre relationship between parent and child? She states that she has denied her two daughters the experiences of having performed in school plays. But their father had to have had enough stage experience prior to having been admitted at age 21 into the Drama Department (1980-1982) of The Juilliard School in Manhattan to justify that admission.
    __________________________

    “all you need to be able to do [to get into Juilliard] is just be badass at one instrument and read music.”
    * * *
    I think that is an extremely simplistic way to look at it. There are children who are groomed for Juilliard from grade school onwards. Children who start playing at 3 or 4 and by the age of 10 are already practicing 6+ hours a day. It takes incredible long-term discipline to be “badass” at one instrument.

    Juilliard grants a 10 minute audition. By the time you walk in, greet the jury, tune up, they get their papers ready to go, glance at your accompanist, you have 7 minutes to convince them that you are at the top of the top and that you have a viable career in performance ahead of you.

    Harvard is, in some senses, more forgiving because you have so many more ways to prove yourself. You can show you are smart through grades, you can show that you earned academic honors, you can show character through recommendation…all Juilliard gives you is 7 minutes to blow them away. http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/439847-harder-than-harvard.html
    __________________________

    Professor Chua has stepped as an authority into several worlds in which she has no known experience and attempted to convince readers deeply concerned with the subjects she has written about that her word is the best word, founded as she believes on substantial personal experience. She moves in step with a long and continuing line of crackpot self-styled such authorities to lay claim to a success citing her ill-chosen and unexamined demographic whopping sampling of two, one of whom has effectively rejected her horrific emotional, social, and artistic models in favor of a pursuit of a life as a real person.

    Does anyone now remember the scam of Linus Pauling (1901-94), author of “Vitamin C and the Common Cold”? In 1970 Dr Pauling, a hustling chemist with no patients and no clinical studies to substantiate his claims, convinced many of the world’s non-thinkers that tanking up on vitamin C would cure the common cold, cure cancer, cure heart disease, and wipe out miscellaneous infections. He amassed a small fortune from his publications. Forty-one years later? Anyone who has contracted the seed basis for a cold still sniffles, cancer is rampant, heart disease remains with us, and infections are a functioning reality, increasing in their variety, throughout the human species. And Dr Pauling? Who? http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/pauling.html

    Obstetricians write books on running. Physicists write books on philosophy. Social workers write books on love. Orthopedists write books on financial investment. Vitamin gurus write books advising pursuit of the Fountain of Youth in the manner of Herodotus and Juan Ponce de León (1474-1521). Generals write unbiased books on history. Psychoanalysts – with the highest suicide rate of any professional group in the world – plumb the woes of others promising answers of consolation.

    And, reminding us, yet again, that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, Professor of Law Amy Chua has overarchingly tried to portray herself with her menopausal-crisis magnum opus that she is (1) an authority on music instruction of the preadolescent, (2) is an informed intellectual on the relationships both distinguishing and binding alien cultures, (3) she believes that both private and public sustained and repetitive humiliations of defenseless children will inevitably lead to a positive strengthening of those children’s characters, (4) she believes that children perceive through the senses of sound and sight what their parents want them to perceive, (5) that there likely will be no relationship between enforced disruptive prohibitions of physiological functions of urination and defecation in early childhood and a possible dysfunction of those systems manifesting later in life, (6) that denial of nutrition is an educational tool, (7) that avowals of love following psychological and physical cruelties meted to the young do not establish a perverse link between those avowals and cruelties, (8) that two daughters who know well that their pussy-whipped father had the valuable preprofessional experiences of the very stage presence they may have wished for themselves in adolescence have not formed an unhealthy opinion of compromised male hegemony during those years it might have benefited them in the formation of what will become their future relations with men, (9) that, while their mother was referring to their minds and their bodies openly and publicly in the most vile terms of contempt and debasement their father sat idly by, possibly out of sight but not out of earshot, (10) that the father of two daughters is portrayed in print and public appearances by their mother as the bringer of jollity when permitted to do so by their mother (Egads!), (11) that the phrase “Head of Household” has been perverted in the Chua example to refer to the elder with the loudest mouth and the least flexible personality, (12) [The reader here is invited to continue filling in the blanks . . .]

    Whether or not any modern Chinese man or woman – or, in the example of Amy Chua, any Filipina descended from Vietnamese – subscribes to any of the tenets of historical Confucianism, those tenets continue, for many modern Orientals both in and from the Eastern lands, to elicit a sentimental ideal to which many pay lip service in time of reference.

    Professor Chua has made a significant fundamental error in attempting to define her relationship with her two daughters. “Parenting method” is not a synonym for “Being a parent.” The former arises from the jargon and complex overlays of institutional structure established by American teachers colleges, their promulgators, and devoted acolytes fallen under the influences of Frederick Wilson Taylor [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Winslow_Taylor] and leaders of The Efficiency Movement [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficiency_Movement] in the first decade of the twentieth century; good for building the Model T but less than good for building character. “Being a parent” arises from the traditional standing of parents within all well-established functioning societies.

    With one exception, all other public pictures of the face of Professor Chua portray her with her signature toothy grin. The only one in which she is not smiling is that showing her imperiously overseeing her younger daughter during a music practice session. http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/RV-AB161_chau_i_G_20110107132417.jpg

    That this parenting nitwit can lay claim to so-called traditional Chinese values, while supplanting the very bases of those values with individual license to cruelty and an immodest flaunting of self at the expense of those children traditional values would obligate her to protect from adversity, is a revelation of ignorance and egocentricity wholly at odds with the established teachings of Confucius.
    __________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  16. Andre M. Smith | February 11, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Further on Chua as a Chinese surname . . .

    My wife, a gyn surgeon, hails from a family of intellectuals and professionals in Shanghai. She has four sisters and three brothers. Among those eight are six of their children between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-six. Chua as a Chinese surname is unknown to them all.

    Bilingual speakers at the consulates in New York for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia all have told me the word chùa – with a grave – (= temple) is Vietnamese. A trilingual speaker at the City Campus Mahayana Temple at 133 Canal St in Manhattan has told me that the word chùa is common in Buddhist use but is not Chinese. In the illustration of the attachment hereto, the word for “temple” emblazoned is transliterated into pinyin as si or shu. http://www.mahayana.us/ But, again, I have it on the authority of my Chinese family that “chua” – at least as it’s pronounced in the nations subjoined to China and in English – is definitely not a Chinese word or name.

    Perhaps Chinese speakers of languages other than Wu or Mandarin, from elsewhere on the Mainland, may have an informed knowledge on this point of nomenclature countering what I’ve sent to you here.

    The faces of both father Leon Chua http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~chua/ and daughter Amy Chua http://www.leighbureau.com/speaker.asp?id=268 are textured similarly to reflect a family origin, at least within the previous handful of Chua generations as likely more south than Mainland China; although within fluid populations, this is speculative. Honestly, though, that part of the world is such a mixed bag of all its ingredients that . . .
    _______________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  17. Stanford Whittley | March 21, 2012 | Permalink Reply

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  18. André M. Smith | April 6, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    There is a recurring theme without solid core that continues to recycle on the question of Amy Chua and her style as a mother. J.G. (unfortunately anonymous, as are most of the endorsements of Professor Chua) has written

    I think it’s easy to take cheap shots at Chua, but it’s hard to argue that the average American child needs less discipline, less direction or less respect for others.

    It might seem amusing to mock her (her “cushy job” and “hottie husband”), but harder to actually consider the points being made in a non-defensive way, without trying to paint yourself as the “cool mom” who prefers three martini playdates?

    p.s. It seems ironic that an Asian-American female who went to Williams (fulfilling a fantasy of Chinese parents everywhere) would paint her parents as laissez-faire and herself as moderately motivated.
    Posted by: J.G. | January 18, 2011 at 02:31 PM http://thecareerist.typepad.com/thecareerist/2011/01/chinese-moms.html

    I, for one, have no interest whatsoever in her “cushy job” and “hottie husband.” Nor do I have any objection to her having become a millionaire from the sales of her book and that she will be well on her way to becoming a multimillionare once the planned translations of it into thirteen of the world’s languages have been completed. My uncompromising objections to Professor Chua are two-fold: her abuses of young children pursued to further her own narcissistic urgencies and her deep commitment of abuse of the art of music – of which she seemingly has no knowledge whatsoever – for reasons having nothing to do with that art. My shots at her are far from what J.G. calls “cheap shots.” They do in fact go to the heart of the problems with her that remain my chief concerns.

    J.G. and most of his fellow travelers in their tepid defenses of Professor Chua continue to focus on her inherited emphasis of the sorry state of public education in The United States. What else is new?

    As with most of the ringing endorsements of Amy Chua, those from J.G. are clearly from a mind not wholly engaged. He has written ” it’s hard to argue that the average American child needs less discipline, less direction or less respect for others. In his tangled syntax I’m quite sure he means – at least I’m hoping he means – it’s hard to argue that the average American child does not need more discipline, more direction or more respect for others.

    J.G. has written further, “p.s. It seems ironic that an Asian-American female who went to Williams (fulfilling a fantasy of Chinese parents everywhere) . . . “ Again, but this time TWO thoughts from nowhere! What has Williams College to do with Amy Chua (Harvard, A.B. ’84)? And since when has Williams even been on the “fantasy” palate “of Chinese parents everywhere?”

    Professor Chua usually receives the quality of defense she deserves.
    ____________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  19. André M. Smith | April 30, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    For all my focus on this subject I think the following text, written from the trenches on the other side of The Pacific, should be required reading everywhere else; perhaps even over there.

    Cordially,

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.
    __________________________

    Chinese Mom: American ‘Tiger Mother’ clueless about real Chinese parenting
    The “Chinese” parenting style advocated by Asian-American author Amy Chua is no longer popular among Chinese mothers
    By Helen He 20 January, 2011
    http://www.cnngo.com/shanghai/life/helen-he-dont-demonize-chinese-mothers-545975

    As a post-1980s mother, I, like many other young moms in China, often seek parenting advice from various channels and never miss reading the latest popular books on parenting.

    Recently, a book titled “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” written by Yale university professor Amy Chua on the parenting experience of a Chinese mother, stirred up a controversy in the West after an excerpt from the book was printed in the Wall Street Journal.

    I’m a born-and-bred Shanghainese mother, not that proficient in English, so I wasn’t able to read Amy Chua’s entire work. But I did have friends translate a book excerpt printed in the Wall Street Journal for me.

    The author claims that mothers, by being strict and narrowminded and focusing only on results, are able to nurture child geniuses.

    This is clearly a utilitarian take on parenting and I was deeply astounded that Chua lauds this as a forte of Chinese mothers.

    I only want to say: Please don’t demonize Chinese mothers.

    Amy Chua’s claims are misleading because Chinese-American women cannot be said to represent mothers in mainland China, and thus are unable to objectively elaborate on the parenting attitudes and experiences of Chinese mothers.

    Amy Chua does not speak for all of us
    Environment has a big influence over a person’s values, and the role of a mother is not something that every woman takes to immediately.

    The Chinese parenting method Chua champions has no claims to authenticity.Every mother gradually devises her own parenting method, which is often shaped by her own experience growing up, as well as the environment around her.

    According to reports, Amy Chua is a Filipino of Chinese descent.

    Her parents emigrated to America and underwent an intense struggle to set their roots in a foreign land, which inevitably led them to adopt a more utilitarian outlook in raising their children: “We struggled to get you this new citizenship status, the best way to repay us as our children is to succeed in life.”

    Amy Chua brings up Confucius in her article to explain why Chinese parents feel that their children are indebted to them for life. But, she probably doesn’t know that there is another fundamental saying in the Confucian school of thought that “ethics matter more than results, harmony more than competition.”

    Simply put, one should not be overly aggressive in trying to outdo others nor adopt a mindset that every investment should get due returns.

    Confucius also believed that education should be something tailored according to an individual’s talents and capabilities, rather than a force-fed regime.

    In other words, the parenting that Amy Chua received while growing up already deviates from Chinese traditions, and despite her attempts to follow in the footsteps of her parents, the Chinese parenting method she champions has no claims to authenticity.

    This strict parenting style, if blindly — or even vengefully — repeated among successive generations, will only be a prolonged tragedy.

    The parenting styles of post-1980s mothers
    The bulk of parents in China today comprise children born in the 1970s and 1980s. I will raise two examples to illustrate how Amy Chua’s perception of Chinese parenting methods differs from current practices in modern China.

    Kaixin001, China’s Facebook that’s popular among the post-1980s generation in China, recently held two online polls.

    One was titled “If you had a girl, what would you teach her?” while the other was “What would you do if you discovered your teenage son was in love?” Each had a total of 97,470 and 28,915 respondents, respectively.

    a.. More on CNNGo: Another ‘Tiger Mother’ rebuttal from across the ocean
    In the first poll, piano and karate came out on top with 55 percent and 54 percent of the total votes. In third place was the response “How to deal with men,” which shows that young parents are also concerned about their child’s interpersonal skills and EQ.

    In the second poll, there were more than 15 different response options, but only 366 netizens (less than one percent of respondents) chose the most extreme option of sharply reprimanding the child.

    The reason why books such as “Fu Lei’s Letters Home” and “Education of Love,” as well as more recent titles such as “A Good Mother Is Better than a Good Teacher” and “An Average Student at Home,” are so well-received among Chinese parents is because they reflect a parenting mindset premised on mutual respect and communication between parent and child — an attitude that’s fast becoming the norm in China.

    The parenting method that Amy Chua encourages, one of forcing a child to discover his talents through disciplined and repeated practice, is contrary to the upbringing that many young Chinese mothers have received.

    The parent-child relationship depicted in “Growing Pains,” an American television series popular in China in the 1980s, is something that is finding favor with many mothers of my generation.

    When I was in university, the way the Seaver family openly communicated with each other was something I could identify with.

    This strict parenting style, if blindly — or even vengefully — repeated among successive generations, will only produce a prolonged tragedy.Along with the opening up of China, my parents’ generation had also opened up to other methods of parenting. They no longer held on to a “spare the rod and spoil the child” mindset, but instead saw their children as equals and hoped to build friendships with them.

    Nurturing healthy individuals rather than child prodigies who have no fun
    The desire for one’s child to be a straight-A student or a musical genius seems simple and naive to most Chinese mothers.

    A survey of 1,285 mothers of children up to six years old conducted by Babytree, China’s largest parenting website, found that health, happiness, self-confidence and kindness were the four most important traits that mothers hoped their children would have.

    About 77 percent of mothers did not expect their children to have particular talents and 65 percent of mothers said they would encourage children to pursue their hobbies, even if it was not an interest shared by the mother.

    The most important wish among mothers was for their children to have a happy, stress-free life.

    The point I wish to emphasize is this: a child is a gift, but the right to control him is not a given.

    The child that we nurture may subtly be influenced by our thoughts and values while under our care, but this does not mean that we should forcefully deprive them the independence to discover and grasp other opportunities that the world offers.

    Taiwanese author Lung Ying-tai wrote in her book “Seeing Off” that the role of a parent is merely to stand by one’s child and watch his back as he gradually ventures afar.

    This very appropriately describes the mindset of many young parents in China today.

    To raise a child is to give him the freedom to build a life of his own, rather than to force him to become a replica of your own successes or as compensation to make up for your regrets. As such, the right to decide what is good or bad for a child is not entirely up to the parents — the child should have a say, too.

    If life really is a race, instead of encouraging your child to tirelessly try to outdo others and come in first, why not let him run at an enjoyable pace so he can admire the sights along the way?

    I dare say that most Chinese mothers, especially those belonging to the post-1980s generation, do silently but lovingly encouraging their children to make the most of life in exactly this manner — a mindset contrary to that advocated by Amy Chua.

    Article translated by Debbie Yong. See the original Chinese version here.

    http://www.cnngo.com/shanghai/life/helen-he-dont-demonize-chinese-mothers-545975

  20. André M. Smith | April 30, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Some words penned in response to the thoughts of a student writing elsewhere . . .

    I would not normally lock horns and try to best a junior in high school; I’m hoping you do not read my words here as such, for they are meant for you only as a provocation to further thought to your ideas well-presented.

    You’ve written that you “used to get frustrated when I had to practice violin and I really didn’t want to . . .” Do I read correctly that you no longer “get frustrated?” If so, that’s a remarkable advancement. As a musician myself I want to ask you, Why do you practice violin and not another instrument of your choosing less frustrating, for examples, flute, harpsichord, tuba, or tabla. There is a vast – and I do mean vast! – repertoire for each of those, and many other, instruments that could challenge you unendingly for the remainder of your life. Instead of spending hours at your chosen instrument (whichever it may be) in the drudgery of isolated practice, why not spend more of your time in practice with music ensembles of various kinds. This can yield a discipline and advancement of a uniquely different kind. If you are studying formally with a violin teacher I’m quite sure he will confirm the well-founded idea that, as a performer, playing an instrument is one kind of challenge but playing an instrument WITH PEOPLE is significantly more so. A musician in isolation is a musician limited. And herein lays one, only one, of the transparent contradictions of the way Professor Chua has taught her two daughters to approach their instruments; opportunistically solely for unartistic purposes.

    A fundamental flaw in the approach to music of Amy Chua – an amusical hack with no known talent for an art of any kind! – is that she has decided it’s perfectly acceptable to pervert one of the greater of the fine arts for use in ulterior purposes. In the example of the Chua family, so-so slogging through masterpieces of music was used to impress others when applying for admission to university. (Would Professor Chua dare to advocate this openly with religion, physics, good grammar, or issues of national interest?) The whole idea that her elder daughter, Sophia, played a debut recital in Carnegie Hall is an early example of the pervasive blight of résumé bloat on which social climbers like Amy Chua have advanced themselves; a blight to which the Chua daughters were introduced early by two parents who know well how to tweak the system to gain unearned personal advantage.

    Carnegie Hall, http://www.carnegiehall.org/history/, includes three auditoria in its building: Stern Auditorium http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/, Zankel Hall http://www.gotickets.com/venues/ny/zankel_hall_at_carnegie_hall.php, and Weill Recital Hall http://www.carnegiehall.org/Information/Weill-Recital-Hall/. It was in Weill that Sophia performed as only one among a cattle-call string of young pianists that day. Do you doubt what I write here? Compare the architectural design,
    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/RV-AB160_chau_i_G_20110107132345.jpg, behind Sophia with that of the architectural design at the rear of the stage in http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/. Having been a performer, myself, in both Stern and Weill over many years you have my assurance that Sophia performed her piece in Weill. Debut recital in Carnegie Hall! Indeed!

    You have written about your parents that they are “less extreme than Chua I’ll admit, but a lot of her memoir is satire and exaggeration.” Don’t be deceived by quick-change artist Professor Chua. She has spent more than one year trying to convince readers of her text that she is some kind of nouveau belles-lettrist who did no more than exercise a writer’s license to engage her readers. In truth she meant what she wrote until her hypocritical posturing as an authentic Chinese mother — born in Illinois to a Filipino father, neither speaks Chinese nor writes Chinese script — came back to haunt her with a ferocity that caused this self-styled Tiger Mother to recoil into improvised doublespeak. Amy Chua is a complete fake!

    All young musicians should be given only two music instrument choices to pursue in life, Violin or Piano. All else is useless waste. Any adult giving such advice is one woefully ill-informed. As a bass trombonist, my instrument has been my first class ticket from person-to-person, school-to-school, city-to-city, studio-to-studio, and stage-to-stage. With the kinds of preparations the Chua daughters were given will they ever perform, as I have, with Richard Tucker, Birgit Nilsson, Roberta Peters, Herbert von Karajan, Leopold Stokowski, and the two-thirds of The New York Philharmonic who were my schoolmates for five years in Juilliard? Forget it!

    Mercifully, I was never besieged with a Tiger Mother or Tiger Anything to motivate me. Yes, I too sometimes was bored with scales and chords. Yes, sometimes my imagined future seemed an unattainable fantasy. Yes, I did sometimes fall flat on my face in public performance (as did my teachers before me and also their teachers before them). Life went on and continues to do so.

    You’ve written that “At this point (as a Junior in high school) about 35% of the pressure to do well comes from my parents and the other 65% is complete self-motivation.” From the subtlety of your writing I suspect you’re cutting yourself short with that 65%. You appear to be much more highly motivated than your objective perspective about yourself can show you at this early time.

    The violin? I advise you to seriously reëvaluate what you believe is your relationship to any instrument of your choice; if, indeed, the violin has been your choice and not that of someone else. If the violin has been your choice, stay with it through all the coming stormy weather of doubt and seeming incompetence. If it is not, drop it in preference to another more to your liking and its fitness for your physicality. (If it’s the tuba, tell your parents that someone other than I recommended it!)

    Good Luck!

    Cordially,
    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  21. André M. Smith | April 30, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I checked Asian. I had heard it was harder to apply as an Asian, so as a point of pride, I had to say I was Asian. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/

    In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins#Pride

    1) Tiger Sophia, you may have checked Asian which does have a “tax,” however you also got big bonus points for being a legacy many times over. The upshot is that you had help getting in unlike these Asian Americans below who live at the poverty line and don’t have Ivy League parents with deep pockets.
    2) By checking Asian when, actually, you are of mixed race, you have taken a spot away from those who don’t have the benefit of applying to a less competitive race slot. Thanks to you, someone who[se] life could be completely changed did not get a spot. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/
    For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29

    Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, the daughter of a mother of mixed Asian ethnicity of no known religious involvement and a secular — whatever that means — American Jewish father has, ostensibly been raised as a Jewess in an atheistic family positing itself as . . . ? When she applied for admission to Harvard she descended into a pride of Asianness to avail herself of an ethnic quota advantage.

    This duplicitous young woman is, indeed, her mother’s daughter! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=230907266920263&set=o.134679449938486&type=1&theater
    __________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  22. beavis | May 8, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Forget raising your kids like Chinese people do. All they seem to produce are grinds. The group that owns over every other are Jews. They are like a half a percent of the human race and have gotten 75% of the Nobel prizes. I’m personally curious what traits of a Jewish upbringing encourages the drive and creativity to excel in so many areas of human endeavor. Tiger Mom = Robo Kid :P

  23. Mike Wong | October 12, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    The Tiger Mother system can be very destructive for a child’s psyche. I was raised under such a system and I decided to write a humorous book about that experience. The funny thing is that I went to Columbia Law School (and graduated which is a big deal to tiger/chinese parents), but every step along the way to that moment of success was deemed a failure by my tiger parents. Here is my book, if people are interested. It is very funny.

    http://www.amazon.com/Success-Interpreted-Failure-Memoirs-ebook/dp/B009A9PQ4C

  24. André M. Smith | January 8, 2014 | Permalink Reply

    On 8 May 2012 bevis wrote above, “I’m personally curious what traits of a Jewish upbringing encourages the drive and creativity to excel in so many areas of human endeavor.” Perhaps the following terse remark will address his query.

    “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” Albert Einstein

    Cordially,

    André M. Smith

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