Why the Chinese Rule–or Will, Soon

OK, I guess all of us  will be working for the Chinese one day, as the smug Chinese professor says in the widely circulated video. (Unless it could be said we already are, given their massive holdings of U. S. debt.)

By now, many have heard of a new book called Battle Song of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. It’s the story of a Chinese-American supermom who raised two frighteningly accomplished, brilliant kids who will probably sit on the Supreme Court one day if they are not busy inventing cures for death. And she did it her way, or the Chinese way, as you can read in a startling excerpt from the book. These are kids who, she reminds us, were never allowed to:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

Key quotes:

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

The full excerpt is here. Brace yourselves, American slackers.

Many have wondered whether in fact Asians might be inherently brighter than other, more frivolous ethnic groups, but if you look at the way this woman raised her kids (while she was not teaching law at Yale), there’s really no need to invoke biological superiority as an answer.

These folks get it done because, to quote the old movie, failure–meaning an A-minus–is not an option.  And neither is a lazy weekend, or the finale of “American Idol,”  or wandering through the mall.



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