Tiger Parents Saving America One Child at a Time

January 21, 2011

At times, Amy Chua, the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, looked as if she were expecting an eighteen-wheeler to appear and flatten her.

The Chinese-American Tiger Mother sat there on the Hillside Club’s stage in Berkeley, California reminding me of a graceful deer crossing a dark mountain road flanked by armies of tall sentinel trees and halfway across being startled by bright headlights rushing toward her.

How could anyone blame Chua?

I have read that she has received death threats for saying “no” to activities such as sleepovers, play dates, acting in school plays, and not allowing her daughters to watch hours of TV or play computer games until midnight or later.

Instead, she did the unthinkable and demanded excellence. Time magazine says, “Most surprising of all to Chua’s detractors may be the fact that many elements of her approach are supported by research in psychology and cognitive science.”

How horrible that a child would have all those “fun” activities restricted and be required to practice “boring” cultural activities such as learning to play the piano or violin and horror of horrors do homework, study and read to insure earning the best possible grades.

My wife and I were disappointed when Amy distanced herself as the possible poster Tiger Mother for Tough Love parents by reading the final pages of her memoir so the audience would discover how she has softened her parenting style except when it comes to grades.

She told us of the turning point when her youngest daughter Lulu shouted at her in Moscow saying how she hated her.

It was obvious that the real reason Amy Chua wrote The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was because she felt she had lost to the Self-esteem Nazis — those so-called parents and their children that probably felt sorry for Lulu because she couldn’t watch all the TV she wanted and party on weekends.

Chua wrote the book in two months soon after returning to the United States from the trip to Russia. It was a catharsis, a healing, and not a battle cry. I expect she felt much anger while pounding out the words on her computer keyboard in a relentless marathon.

That memoir was her way to heal from the trauma of defeat she faced in Moscow.

I know. My wife and I raised a Chinese-American daughter who also came home from school occasionally with the same resentment and said the same mean things Lulu said to her mother.

We discovered the fuel of that resentment was the misplaced sympathy from other children and parents.

While our daughter had to go to bed by 9:30 at night, she knew that most of her friends were up as late as two or three in the morning. In fact, the TV in our house was off most of the week and the content that was watched for an hour or two on weekends was controlled. There were no video games, no Internet connection and TV in her bedroom.

Gasp!

As a child, our daughter had to read books to fill the empty hours.

Amy Chua, to make sure the audience discovered how much she has improved as a mother, let us know that her rebellious daughter Lulu even had a recent sleepover.

However, Tiger Parents practicing Tough Love have her memoir and the facts I mentioned In Defense of Tiger Mothers Everywhere as a reminder that we are not alone. Other Tiger Parents are out there.

I was a Tiger Teacher for thirty years in the public schools. When students failed my class, I was blamed by parents and administrators for “giving” too many FAILING grades.

Often, I was accused by parents (without evidence except the complaints of FAILING teens) of being a boring teacher, being mean, prejudiced, losing homework and damaging the self-esteem of children.

Some parents even pulled children from my class and moved them to teachers that never “gave” failing grades.

In fact, I never “gave” a student a grade.  My students were required to “earn” grades and there is a HUGE difference between the word “give” and “earn”.

By the time I left teaching in 2005, about 5% of my students were doing the homework and required reading necessary for academic improvement, and when standardized test scores in the U.S. fail to measure up, who gets the blame?  the teachers — not the students or the parents

We almost didn’t get in to hear Chua. Although we bought tickets on-line, the Hillside Club oversold and there wasn’t room for everyone.  We had to wait in the foyer to see if there were seats available but my wife and I were fortunate to get in soon after the event started.

I discovered that in the audience was the vanguard of an army of parents and teachers that may have been the victims of what has become known as the soft, positive, self-esteem approach to Western parenting.  There were hundreds of us in that audience.

As Amy sat in that tall chair on stage above the audience with her feet dangling a foot from the floor, the audience laughed, applauded and gazed on her as if she were a hero.

I didn’t expect that.

Instead, I expected the Self-esteem Nazis to turn out in mass to make sure Chua would not be heard, which is the reason this former US Marine and Vietnam veteran went — to make sure someone would be on her side to fight in her defense if needed.

Thank you Confucius for a culture that values education so much that the Tiger Mother, Tough Love method of raising children hasn’t died in China as it almost has in the United States. The bully tactics of Self-esteemism and Political Correctness almost succeeded in destroying America–then Amy Chua’s essay appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

When Amy’s parents came to America as immigrants and sacrificed so much to raise their daughter the same way she was struggling to raise her children, Confucius may have saved this country, because it might be possible that being a Tiger Parent will become acceptable again.

In Time magazine, Chua said, “‘I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too.’ The tiger-mother approach isn’t an ethnicity but a philosophy: expect the best from your children, and don’t settle for anything less.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Mean Chinese Supermoms are Right while Positive Self-Esteemism is Wrong

January 13, 2011

Thanks to an old friend, I recently read Amy Chua’s excellent January 8, Saturday Essay in The Wall Street Journal of Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.

That essay activated the dendrites in my dyslexic, PTSD challenged brain, which started to buzz with ideas for this post.

Then I thought of my mother, who defied the early tide of Positive Self-Esteemism that started to wash America clean of common sense as early as the 1950s. I shudder to think of what might have happened to me if she hadn’t done that.

Most “isms” have something to offer. Capitalism offers that a few get filthy rich. Socialism offers protection for the working class from greedy capitalists so the workers at least have food and shelter.

However, Positive Self-Esteemism has nothing to offer. It is a cancer eating the young minds of the most powerful nation on the planet.

Amy Chua, a professor at the Yale Law School and author of the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, may be on a crusade to save American education by pointing out why Chinese mothers do a better job raising children that go on to do better in school.

Don’t you find it interesting that bad American teachers are blamed for the academic failure of many American students, while most Chinese-American students learned from those same teachers and go on to academic success anyway? Our daughter, who is Chinese-American, had bad teachers too but she also had mean parents, and she was accepted to Stanford University after graduating from high school with a 4.65 GPA.

Horror of horrors, as a child, our daughter had no telephone or TV in her room and no video games. Instead of watching TV nightly as most American kids do, she had to read. The TV was on only two hours a week to watch 20/20 and 60 Minutes.

In her Wall Street Journal essay, Chua says, “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up.”


Amy Chu talks of her book, Day of Empire.

I despise Positive Self-Esteemism as much as or more than America’s Founding Fathers despised democracy.

I learned the hard way years ago how wrong Positive Self-Esteemism was. I taught for thirty years as a classroom teacher in the public schools and was in the trenches being shot at on an annual basis by the politically correct troops spreading this cancer.

In fact, we teachers were told to stop using the word “work” to describe the assignments we had our students doing because studies pointed out that American kids don’t like work. It was also suggested that we correct student work with green ink instead of red because red makes kids feel bad.

However, back in 1952, I was fortunate. For a brief time my mother defied Positive Self-Esteemism and taught me to read when educational experts decided I would never learn to read or write. A decade earlier, the same verdict had been made of my brother and he died illiterate at 64.

At 17, my brother Richard had already been in jail and was drinking booze and doing drugs. He was cutting school too. Why go when you cannot read?

Without knowing it, due to my older brother’s behavior, our mother learned the hard way that Positive Self-Esteemism was wrong. She didn’t blame bad teachers or the schools as many American parents are doing today.

After mother heard the verdict that her youngest son would also be illiterate, she drove home in tears. Both my mother and dad [due to the Great Depression they both dropped out of school at fourteen to work and never graduated from high school] loved to read. The thought of me not sharing a passion for the written word was too much to bear.

By the time we reached home, mother decided to teach me behind closed doors where none of the early shock troops of Positive Self-Esteemism could accuse her of being an abusive parent.

To motivate me, mother used a wire coat hanger and mean language. If I complained, mother hit me with the coat hanger and accused me of being stupid.

I learned to read and write.

When mother was 89 and near death, she asked my forgiveness for being mean to motivate me to read.  Mother said she had lived with guilt for what she had done for more than five decades.

I replied, “Mom, I wished you had told me this before. There is no reason to feel guilty or ask me for forgiveness for teaching me to read by being mean. If you hadn’t done that, I would have followed in Richard’s footsteps. Without being able to read, I may have gone to jail as he did. Thank you for using that coat hanger. Thank you for being mean and forcing me to learn.”

A few weeks later my mother died.

My brother spent fifteen years in jail, was an alcoholic and dabbled seriously in drugs. All those flaws didn’t matter to me. I still loved my brother.

He died having never read a book. In fact, if he were alive today, he wouldn’t be able to read Amy Chua’s work.

Learn more of how the Self-Esteem Movement Helps Cripple US Education System

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Education and Cultures Collide in the US (2/5)

August 2, 2010

The reason that Swan earned those A’s is because my wife is Chinese, who grew up in China during Mao’s era, and I did not grow up in an America dominated by the self-esteem, political correctness cult, which many in the US still worship. To me, learning means work while feeling good and having fun is not important.

The reason for our daughter’s success is that the Chinese value gaining an education above other ethnic groups.

To prove my point, I’m going to use statistical information from two schools.  The first is Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, California. Although the law says this data must be made available to the public, it isn’t easy to find unless you know where to look.  Since I taught in California’s public schools for three decades, I know where to find it.

First, you must access the Las Lomas High SchoolSchool Facts and Accountability Information, 2008–2009″. Once on this page, scroll down to find the list of high schools in this district. Click on the link for Las Lomas High School. When the Las Lomas page opens, scroll down again and click on “School Accountability Report Card (SARC)”.

Look under Subgroup Test Scores and discover the ethnic/cultural break down that shows the number of students tested and the percentage who were proficient or advanced.

Hispanic/Latino 51% of 92 students
African American  60% of 34
Filipino 71% of 35
White/other 80% of 782
Asian American 84% of 123

The reason why I look at these scores by ethnicity is that each ethnic group is a subculture and has unique differences. The data shows that most Hispanic/Latino values gaining an education less than the others.

These STAR Test Results show comparable stats for proficient or advanced for English Language Arts 2008-2009

Hispanic/Latino 52%
African American 62%
Filipino 69%
White/other 80%
Asian American 84%

For Las Lomas, scroll further, and look at the API Changes by subgroup: Three-Year Comparison and you will discover that the Asians had a gain of +34 for 2008-2009. Why, after all, they had the same teachers in the same school?

Return to Education and Cultures Collide in the US (1/5)

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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The Growing Education Gap between the US and China

July 28, 2010

G. E. Anderson, The China Tracker, takes a post from Computerworld about “China is getting ready to clean America’s technological clock,” and expresses an opinion that even if China graduates more scientists and technicians than the US, nothing is being done to nurture the kind of creative and critical thinking that produces innovation. He goes on to say that few in China have a passion for what they are learning.

Anderson is wrong.

The Chinese Collective Culture at Work
An example of cooperation!

The Chinese collective culture has a long history of innovation. The Chinese invented the compass, paper, the printing press, gunpowder and the multistage rocket. Without those Chinese innovations, I doubt the West would have the civilization it has today.

In December 2009, the Cornell Daily Sun reported that 45% of foreign students at American graduate schools are from India and China. In 2008, some 672 thousand international student attended U.S. colleges and universities. Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Comparing the motivation of Chinese to American students is like comparing Red Delicious apples to Chinese dumplings. To a Chinese student, the pressure to measure up is always there, which explains why our daughter (my wife is Chinese and grew up in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution) graduated from a US high school with a 4.66 GPA and straight A’s since she was five. Stanford University accepted her as a Biology major and she has plans to pursue a medical career. Since she speaks both languages fluently, she may take her skills to China one day.

Most American parents could care less and say, “Go have fun. Do what you want to do. Follow your passion.” If anything, this type of thinking will be the downfall of America. I know. I taught in the US educational system for three decades and this self-esteem cancer is still spreading.

Most Chinese students set goals and work “hard” to gain “face” for his or her family, while most Americans don’t set goals since they are too busy having fun and chasing passion. In fact, China has been a collective culture influenced by Confucius and Laotse for more than two thousand years.

While China graduates more than 30% in the sciences and engineering, America graduates that percentage in psychology and the arts and less than 5% in the sciences.

If creative and critical thinking isn’t being focused on in China, it is in the US and hundreds of thousands of Chinese students return to China each year after graduating from US institutions (mostly in the sciences), and many teach in Middle Kingdom universities imparting what they learned in the US to the next generation of Chinese.

For example, a Chinese immigrant friend of ours came to the US in the 1980s and earned his PhD in the sciences. Today, he is the department chair in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Departments of two universities—one in China and the other in the US. His innovative skills are so valuable that both universities cooperate so he can fly between countries sharing his skills and knowledge in NanoScience in Biomedicine. He’s published two books on the subject in both countries and languages.

If that isn’t enough, recently China built a super computer that equals what the US has and China is the only nation with a viable space program.  On top of that, China is the leader in green technology (solar and wind) and has developed an all-electric car ahead of the US.

This all happened while the US has been mired in partisanship and Tea Party Politics while the children are out chasing their passions.

See Investing BIG in Education

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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