Ok, so last time, I thought I was going to write a pretty short post, and it ended up being >1000 words. This time I expect the post to be kind of long, so I don’t know what that means for actual length…
So, starting off, one of the biggest things that everybody has been talking about lately is Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Everybody includes a bunch of my teachers, along with seemingly every major news publication and TV show. So, naturally, this blog cannot ignore the issue, especially considering the demographic of the writers/readers of it.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, the book is a memoir written by Chua about parenting her two daughters. As you can tell by her name, she is Asian. Though she was born in America and is a professor at Yale University, Chua’s parents were immigrants, and she raised her kid in the same style as her parents, the style that all of us are familiar with.
Chua’s book came into national attention when an excerpt from her book was published in the Wall Street Journal, under the title “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” Yeah, if you haven’t already, read it. Basically, it involves extreme punishment during practicing piano, for those of you who haven’t read it yet and were too lazy to do so when I just told you to. This triggered a national outcry, some people were angry, others contemplated if this was the reason China was so ahead of the U.S. acadmically. Everybody had their opinion on it, from those condemning her, calling for charges of child abuse, to those arguing that all Americans must follow her model, or we’ll be taken over by the Chinese. That’s enough time summarizing, so if you want to witness the media firestorm of opinions, Google News “tiger mother.”
So, after everyone’s written and/or yelled into a camera their opinions already, here’s mine. Like in many cases, those on either extreme are wrong. Children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood, to have fun, to socialize. Disparaging them or forcing them into activities they hate are clearly not healthy. Neither is banning TV or sleepovers, as this results in children who are unable to connect with the outside world. On the other hand, absolutely neglectful parenting also has consequences. I’m going to use the stereotypical “Drop out of PCC, work at McDonald’s, become a drug addict and then a hobo” example so I don’t have to come up with my own. Parents are responsible for their children, so they must care for them, and hard work and responsibilty are indeed important values to teach.
So, what’s my solution? Well, clearly, I’m advocating moderation. But where on the scale of moderation, you ask? “Your solution is vague, it can fall anywhere on the scale from 1-10, with 1 being ‘You must practice piano/violin 4 hours a day, and get a 4.0 GPA, no use of electronic devices, and if you disobey, I’ll beat you’ to ‘You got a D+? That’s great! Yeah, go ahead and take the pickup tonight, I don’t care where you go. Oh, want some of this beer?’ ” Yes, that is exactly my solution. There is no one solution. Parenting isn’t a cheap baseball cap; there is no one-size-fits all.
Parents must look at their child, and see who they are, what they are like, what they are capable of. From this, you decide how to parent, what standards to impose, how much pressure to give them. You can’t just read a parenting book and expect to know exactly how to parent your child. Or even worse, you can’t read a Chinese newspaper, or listen to Chinese radio, or hear from a friend. There is a tendency in the Asian community to hear, through one of those aforementioned channels, about how some kid got into Stanford, had a high GPA, was an expert pianist, had a high SAT score…and this was what his parents did. This is what you have to do to get into a good college.
Well, guess what? That kid’s parents don’t necessarily know why their kid got into Stanford. Maybe it was the piano, maybe he wrote a really insightful app essay, maybe he just happened to get lucky. But more importantly, that wasn’t your kid. No matter what you do, how closely you try to follow the advice of those parents, or of parenting experts, or of “parenting experts” on Chinese radio/newspaper, your kid will not be somebody else’s kid. No crazy, magical parenting method will get your kid into a good college. If you want to parent your child, you must actually parent your child. Get to know them, accept them, learn what it takes to help them. Figure out what drives and inspires them. Maybe that’ll help them into Stanford. Or maybe they’re just not the type for high-level colleges. See what alternatives there are for them to be happy and successful.
Yes, this will require a lot of effort. But you were the one that brought your child into the world. Don’t expect a quick and easy solution.
Next, the State of the Union. You should all watch it because it’s you know, the state of our union. It’s an hour long, but President Obama stated that the two top priorities for the country should be innovation and education. That we must progress our scientific innovation, and also educate our kids better. That “we must stop getting rid of good teachers, and stop making excuses for bad ones,” that we should better support these good teachers.
Of course, I totally agree with this. The future of this country depends on the education of the young, and on what developments can be made to keep ahead of the rest of the world. I fail to comprehend how politicians turn to education when they need to cut money to pay off debt. As we all have experienced, the American public education system is flawed. And now, with budget cuts, not only is college tuition becoming ridiculous, teachers are being fired. And of course, this goes by seniority. So newer teachers are let go, despite being highly competent and motivated, while older teachers can stay despite being less qualified to teach than most of their students. In freshmen year, when pink slips were being handed out, my history and biology teachers received one, even though they were both great teachers that worked hard and cared about their students, while my math teacher, who did nothing, was completely safe. Along with a bunch of other teachers, including my future AP biology teacher, whose incompetence I could write a whole post about.
The good thing is that the Los Angeles Unified is, I believe, getting rid of the tenure system, so that poor teachers can be eliminated despite their seniority. Hopefully this can stay, as I know the teacher union is mounting strong opposition.
It’s not all about the teachers, though. I’m curious to see what Obama’s plan is, to restructure the education system, to advance learning so that those innovations can be developed, to change attitudes about education, to make higher level education affordable. It’s clearly not an easy task, but it is a very important one.
And even if you don’t care about this, or the rest of the President’s speech, he called for high speed internet nationwide, something I think we can all approve of.
Now, onto a common topic of mine: Asian-Americaness.
I don’t remember the context, but recently, my mom stated that my brother was “an ABC.” Just in case, that means “American-born Chinese” in this case. My dad quickly responded, that no, he’s not. And I agreed with him.
This may be nitpicking, and I don’t want to get into SAT grammar crap, but in that phrase, “American-born Chinese,” Chinese is the noun. The American-born is just modifying it. That means that the person is a Chinese. That just happens to be born in America. Yao Ming is a tall Chinese. Jackie Chan is a tough Chinese. Hu Jintao is a powerful Chinese. Person X is an American-born Chinese.
Yeah, well Person X is not my brother, I’m 99% sure. And I’m 100% sure that’s not me. I am an American. If you, for some reason, need to label by race, I’m an American of Asian descent. Or if you really need to, Asian-American. Chinese-American. Whatever. But I am not a Chinese. I am now getting into the territory of my debate with Tim, which he has adamantly dodged attempts to continue. So I want him to post his response on this blog. Or just in our IM, I guess, but he hasn’t had a post yet, so we might as well conduct our debate through the opinion section of the Leafwood Times.
Anyway, the point is, I was born in America, I was raised in America, I will, barring something life-changing, (Admission into Cambridge, alien invasion of only North America, etc.) continue to live in America. I am American, not Chinese, no matter what my physical race is. In a conflict between the two countries, I know which side I am on. I do not consider myself Chinese. I do not consider myself a part of Chinese culture. Maybe you guys feel differently, I want to hear your opinions.
So, yeah, this is based off a facebook convo between two sophmores that got into my news feed, due to one of my fb friends having one comment in it. I can’t figure out how, if it’s even possible, to upload pictures from my hard drive to here, so yeah, it’s in the Life Sucks Group, if you want to see it.
Oh, nvm, copy and paste works well. Meh, think I’ll take out names and pictures. Text in red is my commentary.
I’m sorry but if you dont watch Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Appleseed,
And all you do is watch Bleach or Naruto, then you are NOT an anime fan.
- Oh, good, anime elitism…almost all elitists are stupid, but yeah…anime elitism. They like Bleach and Naruto. Bleach and Naruto are animes. Sounds like they are anime fans.