After reading an article that I wished would just go away, it didn’t, so I figured I’d contribute to the dialogue with my observations and assessments. First, Amy Chua, a fame-hungry professor pushing a book published her account of why Chinese Moms Are Superior at the Wall Street Journal. I guess they were going for the shock factor, which they got. Both the title and the premise are utterly ridiculous. Then, CNN and other networks started weighing in with their own panel of Asian experts patting themselves on the back for similar accolades.
Why Chinese Moms Are NOT superior
While this woman and others like her love to tout the rigidity and discipline with which they raise their children, where are the results?
- “Abnormal” Kids and Adults - I remember toiling away in my Chemical Engineering undergrad at Rutgers wondering what these people were all about. If you’ve been through a technical undergrad, you’ll appreciate this. Our class was basically comprised of about 90% Asian/Indian students, about 5% Caucasian, and then about 3-4 kids of other backgrounds combined. I was in the 5% Caucasian camp. I used to visit the student center on the night before an assignment was due only to find that the cut-throat students ahead of me had cut required pages out of the book with a razor blade. I had to make due to my other resources – shame on me for procrastinating. I’d see then clans of various factions – the Koreans, the Chinese, the Indians moving about in herds and always toiling away all day at the student center. They tended to not associate with students of other backgrounds, just their own. While I found this to be odd, and sad in a way, it didn’t impact me. I ended up joining a fraternity and having a great, fun, diverse and successful college experience.
- They Are Not Leaders - So, where are these kids today that I had to compete against in college? I graduated with honors and I was raised like a “typical” American kid the author criticizes. I don’t have a particularly high IQ and my SAT was a mere 1260 – enough to get in, but not enough for a scholarship – and not enough to be “accepted” or praised in one of these rigid households. I played sports, I did sleepovers and the horror! – I played guitar instead of piano or violin. As I look around at leaders within my company and others – guess what? They’re not these kids. We have plenty of leaders of color, so let’s not cry racism in this day and age. We have diversity in American leadership – but they’re rarely Asian – probably lower than the actual percentage of representation in the US population at large. Where are the results? I thought these brilliant hard working kids should have taken over the world by now, right?
- Why Does the US Continue to Lead? This way of raising kids is no new phenomena. We’re talking about generations of eastern vs. western values. And while America may not be on the pedestal it used to be, America still clearly leads the world in virtually all aspects that matter in world standing – military, financial, innovation, desired destination for immigration, opportunity, secondary schooling, medical schooling, you name it. America is where it’s at. So, why haven’t Asian nations surpassed America?
This isn’t a knock on Asians or tough parents at all. I DO think America has a really bad parenting crisis. I see it with people I know, and kids I grew up with had lousy parents and some of them turned out fine and others ended up in alcohol rehab (click here for more information). But let’s not oversell the method of drilling and creating drones. It doesn’t seem to work all that well either. At least with a balanced, middle-ground childhood, I grew up to be a well-adjusted, successful and happy adult. Can this be said of all these children? Based on what I encountered in college and some anecdotal experience with co-workers and folks in town, I just don’t see this purported superiority.