A Chinese-American mother named Amy Chua wrote a Wall Street Journal essay "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior; Can a Regimen of no Playdates, no TV, no Computer Games and Hours of Music Practice Create Happy Kids?". Just reading the title, you can guess why it has started a firestorm of opinions. (There's a counter-article, "In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom". It's pretty funny but she does make a good point of parents using force and discipline to get desired results versus a child "climbing the mountain" herself.)
One thing I have learned in my years of parenting - you can never criticize another person's parenting (at least to their face) unless they are abusive (and some people call Ms. Chua's methods abusive). Beyond restricting her children's activities, she also calls them names (saying they know she doesn't mean it) and takes away activities/rewards until they do what she wants perfectly.
KUOW (94.9 FM) will have Ms. Chua on this noon-time if you are interested in the conversation.
I can only say...there's a middle ground. I think Ms. Chua goes waaaay too far in her methods. (I have to wonder what happens when her daughters have their first "sleepover" at college? Get into a highly competitive university and get their first B because there are thousands of extremely bright kids just like them there?)
BUT my personal belief is that our country is having huge public education problems because of
- not teaching our kids a work ethic (work before play and being able to follow-thru)
- allowing our kids too much free time that ends up with computer/texting/video games
- lack of a belief in the pride of being smart (Bill Gates may be the richest man in the country/world but hey, he's still a nerd.)
But fast-forward. We get a president who says, hey, I got Cs and I'm still President. We have reality show programs that give fame to those with no apparent talent other than being loud, crude and yes, dumb. So you no longer have to do something really good or really bad to be famous for 15 minutes. But that is nothing to base your life on. We have politicians that say they care about education but don't fully fund it. We have politicians that despair over the mediocre school graduation rates but then, if you do go to college, then suddenly you're an elitist from an ivory tower university.
If we, as adults, think this is confusing, what do we expect kids to think/believe about education?