The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom and Education
Mrs. Chua set down in her book much that is deserving of thought. Just about everything she wrote stands the test of time and should be given attention in our education system. Firstly, she gave the girls tasks which involved moving heavy objects; this she did when they were young, an important thing since one wishes for children to learn to work and eventually for them to make it a habit; life will not give them much for free. Her entire story seems to utter one things: life if not easy, you need to learn to make a sustained effort at it.
She stayed on course, as far as the education of the children were concerned. Hard at times her actions may seem, but she had a goal, which was to get her children through school with success.
The world, I agree with Mrs. Chua, is not an easy place and an education makes it that much easier although it does not grant anyone immunity from difficulties, and even at times, pain.
She had them doing music, studying times tables, and in general preparing for adulthood. One of the things which she did is to take her children from school during lunch time to give them more to do. I have great admiration for her attitude to work. She sees that the children are not being given enough work so she steps in to give them more. She is monitoring what they do in school and she is not thoroughly satisfied with it; but she does not complain, oh no, she does something.
Raising a child is not an easy thing at all; it is fraught with difficulties, and misteps. Eliminating sleepovers from their diet seems to be an eminently wise move. The sleepovers may have their limited benefit but on the other hand it wastes time, take away the child’s focus from her overriding responsibilities to learn, and possibly allowing them to come into contact with contaminating ideas of less work, and loosening their commitment to school.
They will in time be able to make their decisions about what they wish to do with their lives, but they have in their pockets one of the most valuable tools for their lives; a good education and the strength to fight and struggle for more of what they want.
What her actions display is that discipline is a necessary factor in school. Children, as she says, will not immediately show enthusiasm for work and at times may need a firm hand. If we decide that an education is necessary, then we should decide also what we need to do to get them to work. In other words it will not always be a song.
It is possible to criticize Mrs. Chua as being too hard, yet one wonders just what do we expect from schools. We, some of us, sit and say nothing when teachers are blamed for the performance of our children, when schools are closed because our children are failing, but with parents like Mrs. Chua we can see how the landscape would be profoundly different; far less children would fail.
There is another element to her story which must be given consideration. She and her daughter had a fight which hurt her deeply. She describes herself as running along the street, in anguish. Indeed, her daughter had displayed quite some anger, but that is testimony that her mother had not interfered with her spirit, which was strong enough to say back off.
For many of us and for schools, teaching children is much more than tests, and being nice. It at times will involve pain, hurt, and even anger. Our object is not to simply hurt but to get the young person where they should be.
I have seen children who do not get through the academic system, falling by the wayside, bringing tears and pain to parents. Were they more permissive than Mrs. Chua, perhaps. They might not have taken the effort to let their children be occupied with academics. In the end it might just be worth it to put such effort into it if the child will have a better hand to play with during the course of her life.