Article from the Telegraph in UK about how and why the Chinese government plans to work on school children to change manners and cultural approaches to etiquette:
This parenting business really isn’t easy and we should really be very doubting of anyone who seeks to suggest it is. So much so, as this article highlighted, vast numbers of parents feel the need to ‘fake it’ and pretend things which aren’t actually true to appear to be succeeding at a mythical ‘right way’ to be a parent.
This is the context and backdrop against which I believe we must view the latest furious debate that has erupted over the Chinese ‘Tiger Mother’ following the publishing of a new book by Yale Law School Professor, Amy Chua:
The background to the Chinese education scenario and the attitudes to parents is summed up well in this BBC article:
Professor Chua’s argument is a simple one – no nonsense, no compromise, parent knows best parenting as practiced by many Chinese parents breeds winners more frequently than more laissez faire, tolerant ‘Western’ parenting ways. Her viewpoints are expressed in some detail in the following essay ahead of the book’s publication in the Wall Street Journal:
I’m sure that reading that will leave readers with many different emotions. I’m not sure how many of us could be 100% comfortable with all that she says. However, there were a couple of aspects of her perspective that I really liked;
- A starting assumption on the part of a parent that their child has it within them to be a winner – a ‘can do’ mentality rooted in a belief that they have a right to succeed, perhaps even a duty to fulfil their true potential. When I define ‘success’ I mean it in more than just the conventional sense. One can be a successful spouse, parent, sibling, friend, citizen as well as employee or employer, artist, musician, sportsperson etc.
- A recognition that if you’re ever to be truly great at something (anything) it’s effort that will get you there and that it’s going to require practice and an acceptance of delayed gratification. It’s not as though this is a new idea, even in the West. For example, in recent years, Malcolm Gladwell has been writing extensively on his belief that 10,000 hours of practice is the requirement to be truly good at anything. Where the difference comes is in Amy Chau’s plain openness about the belief that children are not the best judges about whether or not to put effort in to something, when to put that effort in or how much is enough. I believe as time goes on and so-called ‘Western parenting’ evolves I sense a diminishing ability for children to delay gratification (to accept that sometimes what they want will come later as a result of their doing what they need to in the short term). I also sense a greater discomfort with ‘No’ and a struggle to cope when things are not the way they want them to be.
That doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with all of Amy Chau’s methods. That said, when I look around and see so many parents confused and muddling along in their practice as parents I can at least admire that Chau has figured out what is her strategy and is consistent. Her children will not be left in doubt about where their mother stands – they have the clarity that children often crave. Children of uncertain, waivering parents are too often left floundering to figure out right and wrong and the boundaries for their lives. I am greatly troubled in public places when I see children ‘running wild’, behaving badly where the parent’s approach is to ignore it repeatedly until they reach a point where they have had enough, at which point the same act or one no more serious than those previously suddenly earns them a physical or verbal sharp reprimand. The hurt on such a child’s face says more to me of confusion over the inconsistency and a sense that the parent had cheated them in to believing the behavior was OK, until they hit out.
To look at some varying views on the views Chua has expressed, the New York Times put together 8 people from different fields and perspective to share different perspectives on the debate. Their views are really well worth reading.
I would love to hear a cross section of views from parents and teachers in this fascinating debate.
Do we teach children about bullying …. and then let them decide whether it’s a good thing or not, whether they want to engage in it or not? Do we ‘allow children to make up their own minds’ about genocide, racism, eugenics?
If we don’t, then I really am quite mystified by the viewpoint expressed in this Harvard Education article suggesting that when educating children about the environment we should steer clear of all judgements about what is good or bad and let the children make up their own minds:
Of course, if such views are held strongly in the American education system, that might go some way to explain why the country so singularly fails to acknowledge the part it is playing in destroying the environment worldwide and why our own students find their peers in American universities ill-informed, complacent and dangerously dismissive.
This is a shame because, as the article highlights there’s a lot that’s good in the approaches advocated for environment education;
- Hands on student-centric learning approaches through which the students discover the answers, rather than simply being told things,
- The cross-curricular approaches that fundamentally recognize that knowledge cannot be compartmentalized in to different ‘subjects’ with rigid walls, without fundamentally diminishing the ability of learners to think effectively and to apply their learning in later life (something our own ICSE board and, sadly, many educators are prepared to sacrifice in the pursuit of another 0.1% on the board results for university admissions)
- Assignments and projects that exercise skills beyond rote learning and memorizing to incorporate other levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning.
- Focusing on a sense that the solutions to environmental issues lie in people’s hands, that we are not all powerless and that we all have a role to play – making it probably the best area of school study to enable children to begin to get a perspective on their place in society.
Environment Education needs more, not less emphasis.
This is an interesting article from the New York Times:
The first thing that really struck me about the article was the cynicism with which it was written – as though educators daring to set up learning environments in any way different to ‘when we went to school’ are deserving of only mockery and doubt.
This school is in a very tough and challenging environment. Does the writer believe that if this school had been set up as a ‘conventional’ school, then everything would have been sweetness and light behind the closed classroom doors where one teacher (or occasionally two) would have been seeking to maintain control over 30+ excitable children with varying learning needs.
The writer doesn’t seem to understand children very well, expressing surprise at the level of exuberance when the children are transitioning from one activity to another. Really! That is actually a child’s natural state, not the pin-drop silence of bullied resentful compliance.
I agree, this model will require teachers to adapt a far more ‘team based’ approach to their roles, but that’s also no bad thing (in fact something that we are increasingly emphasizing for their benefit as much as the children’s).
When Sir Ken Robinson bemoans the way in which the world is changing, but education isn’t we can see why in articles like this. Parents (and journalists) believe they are competent to judge education because they are ‘experts (they spent at least 12 years at school themselves).
I am not suggesting that the New American Academy is the answer to all classroom challenges of the 21st Century. However, I woulds always have more faith in educators who are experimenting, researching outcomes and seeking to find new and better ways than those who perpetuate Dickensian models that were redundant even 30 years ago.
Chaitanya Bishnoi of TSRS Moulsari represented Delhi for under-16 Cricket National for the year 2010-2011.
The following are details of Chaitanya’s Vijay Merchant Trophy Match Details and Photographs.
Delhi won the Tournament for the first time.
Chaitanya played all the matches except one and he has performed well for the team.
We beat Punjab by first innings lead
Bowling figures 18-11-25-1
We beat himachal pradesh by first innings lead
We beat Haryana outrightly
20 runs (2nd highest scorer, we were all out for 116)
We beat Jammu and Kashmir outrightly (with a bonus point)
Batting 42 not out
Quarter final against jharkhand
We won by first innings lead
Semi final against UP
We won by first innings lead
Final against Maharashtra
Congratulations to Chaitanya and here’s wishing him continued success on the cricket field.