The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom and Education
Mrs. Chua’s book was a fascinating read as she touched many of the most relevant matters concerning education. Her point of view deserves much thought. Just about everything, her principles, her methods, her concerns, are worth considering by parents. She gave her children, girls, tasks such as carrying heavy things. This is a particularly relevant point in that she is saying that work and our attitude to it is of central importance, and her daughters will need to acquire a work ethic to carry them through life. Life, she was saying, and many of us agree, will not give much for free. To get something of worth from this life takes continued effort; capacities and abilities are not enough. The central thrust of her story is that life is not easy, and each person needs to learn to make a sustained effort at it.
Hard at times her actions may seem, but she had a goal – and no smarmy love, but love it was – which was to get her children through school with success.
The world, I agree with Mrs. Chua, is not an easy place; employers, children of one’s own, recurrent bills, difficult bosses, can bring pain, but an education provides arms to face the problems which come one’s way and makes it that much easier although it does not grant anyone immunity from difficulties, or 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. Unlike many parents she takes positive action when things at school are not going the way she likes.
Raising a child is not an easy thing at all; it is fraught with difficulties, and missteps. Eliminating sleepovers from their social diet seems to be an eminently wise move. The sleepovers may have their limited social benefits but on the other hand they waste time, take away the child’s focus from the overriding responsibilities to learn, and possibly allows them to come into contact with ideas which dilute their commitment to school and even introduce sexual influences into their minds.
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 valuable tools for their lives; a good education and the strength to fight and struggle for more of what they need and 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. To think that educating children at any school will always be a song is expecting too much. There will at times be difficulties educating the child and both parents and the school should zero in on it to save the child.
It is possible to criticize Mrs. Chua as being too hard, yet one wonders just about what 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.
And there is also pain in child rearing; this is shown vividly when she and Lulu had that fight and Lulu unloaded fiercely on her. There is a significant revelation here. 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 child’s spirit, which was strong enough to say back off.
Teaching, learning, schools, are much more than tests; there are times when it is, or will be, necessary to be hard on students to get them to perform better. At times there will be pain and anger, but can we really leave students to do as they will and say nothing. Our object is not to simply hurt but to get the young person where they should be.
I have seen students who do not make it in school and eventually fall through the cracks, and into a life of despair. I have seen children who die violently when young, a tragedy which only brings pain. Mrs. Chua succeeded in getting her children through and her devotion to learning deserves attention. Yes, there are those who may disagree with some of her methods, but she put in an unquestionable amount of effort, which can only bring seeds or success; our schools can use more of those parents who put in so much.