Facts about Education — China and the world versus America – Part 2/3

July 29, 2011

Myth: “The United States Used to Have the World’s Smartest Schoolchildren.”

ANSWER: Ben Wildavsky says, “No, it didn’t. Even at the height of U.S. geopolitical dominance and economic strength, American students were never anywhere near the head of the class … the results from the first major international math test came out in 1967 … Japan took first place out of 12 countries, while the United States finished near the bottom …

If American’s ahistorical [unconcerned with or unrelated to history or to historical development or to tradition] sense of their global decline prompts educators to come up with innovative new ideas, that’s all to the good.  But don’t expect any of them to bring the country back to its educational golden age—there wasn’t one.”

Myth: “Chinese Students Are Eating America’s Lunch.”

ANSWER: “Only Partly True … China’s educational prowess is real. Tiger moms (such as Amy Chua, who wrote Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) are no myth—Chinese students focus intensely on their schoolwork, with strong family support, but these results don’t necessarily provide compelling evidence of U.S. inferiority.”

Wildavsky then says that many of the students in rural China outside Shanghai (the only Chinese city where the PISA international test was conducted) are poorer and less educated than ‘China’s’ coastal cities …

(American) alarmist comparisons with other countries, Waldavksy says, whose challenges are quite different from those of the United States, don’t help.

He says, “Americans should be less worried about how their own kids compare with kids in Helsinki (Finland) than how students in the Bronx measure up to their peers in Westchester Country.”

Myth: “The U.S. No Longer Attracts the Best and the Brightest.

ANSWER:  “WRONG!”

While Wildavsky mentions that the U.S. should be concerned about the future, the U.S. college education system was (and still is) second to none since the United States has long been the world’s largest magnet for international students.

In fact, he says there are more foreign students in the United States now than there were a decade ago—149,999 more in 2008 than in 2000.

For international graduate study, Wildavsky says, American universities are a particularly powerful draw in fields that may directly affect the future competitiveness of a country’s economy: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Continued on July 29, 2011 in Facts about Education – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

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Facts about Education — China and the world versus America – Part 1/3

July 28, 2011

Tired of reading endless criticisms of just about everything global, I dropped my weekly subscription to The Economist magazine (TE) with its emphasis on Sinophobia.

To me, it seemed that most of TE’s staff does not have the intellectual ability or knowledge to write with much depth. I only remember one piece that was well researched and written that impressed me.

Instead, I have shifted to Foreign Policy (FP) magazine, which comes once every two months, and from what I’ve read so far in a few issues, the writing and ability of its staff is on a much higher level than TE.

Maybe that’s because FP has more lead-time to research, think, write, revise and edit before the next issue comes out.

This isn’t the first post I wrote due to something I read in FP. The first came after reading Chicago on the Yangtze, and the post that followed was Bo Xilai’s 32 Million.

This post is from reading FP’s Think Again: Education. The journalist was Ben Wildavsky, a senior scholar in Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the author of several scholarly books.

Knowing who wrote what is a big leap from TE, which is probably wise since what TE publishes is often insulting, biased and flawed.  However, it is better to know who wrote what since writing in anonymity may lead to lazy, biased and sloppy writing.

What Wildavsky does in FP magazine is debunk the lies and myths about the American educational system, and he does an excellent job.

MYTH:American Kids are Falling Behind

ANSWER: To this myth, Wildavsky says, “Not Really”, and explains, “the U.S. education system … doesn’t look to be failing so spectacularly.

“The performance of American students in science and math has actually improved modestly since the last round of this (PISA) international test in 2006 … and reading scores … are more or less unchanged since … 2003.”

Continued on July 28, 2011 in Facts about Education – Part 2

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Random thoughts thanks to “Anais Nin” and “Amy Chua/Tan”

July 8, 2011

What kicked off these random thoughts was caused by a Chinese friend quoting Anais Nin, “The only thing psychoanalysis achieves is to make one more conscious of one’s misfortunes.”

I Googled the quote from Anis Nin and found it on Solar Powered Visions and then found the following quote from PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE TRAGIC SENSE OF LIFE by Richard L. Rubens, Ph.D., “To undertake such a journey is what is asked of patients in psychoanalysis. It is a journey into territory neither analyst nor patient knows completely, and both participants must recognize that they cannot know in advance what they will ultimately discover.… It (psychoanalysis) calls on man (or woman) to recognize his (or her) position in the forward sweep of time and to choose to live his (or her) life in full awareness of the loss that is inextricably bound up with the process of growth and change.”

That resulted in my thinking of two of Amy Chua’s critics on the Amazon Forum for Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and that these two are unable to grow and change from what they have learned.

One of these anonymous critics calls herself Mandy Wu and the other JLee—both claim to be Asian and/or Chinese.  In fact, JLee started out claiming to speak for all Chinese women when she voiced her opinions as a fact that Chinese mothers are not like Amy Chua. Later, the China Daily would prove her wrong, which led to JLee calling me a Cyber bully.

Both Mandy Wu and JLee have demonstrated that Western psychoanalysis has made them aware of how miserable they are and they have identified this misfortune with Amy Chua’s parenting style as described in her memoir. These two critics are unable to recognize their position in the forward sweep of time and to live in full awareness with the process of growth and change. They are stuck.

I replied to my friend, “Amy Chua’s critics should just ‘eat bitterness’ and get over it.”

He said, “That’s not what ‘eating bitterness’ means.  It really means to endure hardship in order to build a better life.”

I asked, “Does that apply to both physical and mental hardships such as depression?”

He said yes.

As I walked away, I thought of, “Amy Chua and Amy Tan.”  I turned around and asked, “Why is Amy such a popular name among Chinese?”

My friend laughed and replied, “In Chinese ‘Amy’ means ‘love rice’ and Amy is one of the most popular names that Cantonese give to their female children.”

I then went to the MDBG online Chinese dictionary and discovered that “Ai” means love , which in Chinese is pronounced the same as the beginning of “Amy” and then I typed in “rice”, which appeared as “mi” or .  In Chinese, Amy is written as .

Discover Amy Chua Debates Former White House “Court Jester” Larry Summers

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 3/3

July 5, 2011

Then on April 22, 2011, Patrick Mattimore (chinadaily.com.cn) wrote Do ‘Tiger Moms’ make the best parents?

The question was, “So what is Chinese mothering and is it superior to Western parenting? Should all moms ascribe to be Amy Chua?”

What follows are a few excerpts from the China Daily opinion piece.

“First, Chua is using the terms ‘Chinese mothers’ and ‘Western parents’ loosely. The Tiger Mother/Chinese Mother can be found in many cultures and is not exclusive within any culture….”

“Unlike in the West where children are encouraged to experiment and develop their own individual talents, Chinese parents believe the child is an extension of oneself. Chinese parents believe they know what is best for their children and therefore override the child’s preferences. Chua concludes that it may come down to a matter of choice. Westerners believe in allowing children a large measure of freedom to choose their own paths while the Chinese parent makes choices for her children.…”


Amy Chua’s daughter Sophia as seen on her Blog

”Trying to untangle Chinese mothering and Western parenting and pick one style of raising a child or the other as the exclusively right way is ultimately a fool’s errand. Certainly, there are elements from both that are worth adopting. Parents can be consistent without being inflexible. They can have high expectations and demand that children work hard without setting up gulag conditions. They can listen and adapt to their children without giving up control or responsibility for raising them.…”

“In the final analysis, Amy Chua has provided readers with a provocative memoir about how she raised her daughters. Certainly, her ideas are worth considering and many are worth adopting. However, no parent should believe that Tiger Mothers have infallible blueprints for raising successful children. Parents still need to chart their own course and be prepared to vary the course according to the needs of each child.”

Instead of listening to the intolerant opinions of inflexible fools from America, why not read what Sophia, Amy Chua’s oldest daughter, has to say in her letter to the New York Post or go to her Blog and discover for yourself that her tiger mother has not damaged her.

Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld’s Blog may be found at new tiger in town.

Return to The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 2 or start with Part 1

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 2/3

July 4, 2011

I first ran into this particular wall of intolerance on the Amazon Forum where Amy Chua’s critics left reviews and comments about her parenting methods in a hate fest that had mostly nothing to do with the memoir.

What these critics write are attacks on Chua accusing her of being a child molester, a sociopath, or a narcissist, etc.  Often, these critics do not know what they are talking about and the biased ignorance runs deep.

One claim I have been struggling to disprove was the one that said, “Amy Chua does not represent the average mainland Chinese parent and had no right to claim that her parenting methods were Chinese.”

After more than four months, the evidence I have been looking for appeared in China when the China Daily published Tiger Moms’ Popular in China on April 14, 2011.

The China Daily said, “The strict parenting style advocated by Amy Chua, the Yale law professor, in her latest book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is still popular in the country today, according to a recent survey.”

“Among 1,795 people polled online by China Youth Daily‘s social research center, 94.9 percent said they know women who are strict mothers, and 55.1 percent said they see merit in Chua’s parenting.…”

“A Beijing high school teacher, surnamed Liu, was quoted as saying that his wife had enrolled their daughter in violin and ballet classes at an early age and had resorted to scolding and spanking when the girl refused to go.

“Strict parenting is also a tradition in other Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea,” Liu said. “It has merits in raising smarter children and preparing them better for harsh competition in the future.”

In addition, a critic of Chua’s on the Amazon Forum referred to an opinion piece posted on the Psychology Today Blog where Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College claimed that 42 one-star reviews from anonymous people that identified themselves as Chinese was enough to conclude that the majority of Chinese (there are more than 1.3 billion Chinese and almost four million are in the US) were critical of Amy Chua’s parenting methods.

When we compare Peter Gray’s opinion in the Psychology Today Blog with information from almost 2,000 people polled online in China, which source do you think is more credible?

Continued on July 5, 2011 in The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 1/3

July 3, 2011

Recently an an expatriate American living in China sent me a link to a piece published in the  China Daily on June 3, 2011. The author was Amy Chua, who is known as the Tiger Mother.

What I read revealed (once more) that after decades of struggling to get rid of intolerance in America, that this ugly beast is very much alive in chat rooms, Internet Forums and Blogs.

As a noun, intolerance means an unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs. As an adjective, it means lacking respect for practices and beliefs other than one’s own.

Terrorism is an example of intolerance as is racism.

The ugly face of intolerance appeared soon after an essay was published in the January 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal of Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.

A few days later, Amy Chua’s memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was released and a firestorm of intolerance spewing hate, ignorance and opinions expressed as facts appeared as if a volcano had erupted.

Then Amy Chua’s July 3 piece, The real hymn of the tiger mother (mentioned in the first paragraph) appeared in the China Daily.

Cartoon from China Daily

Chua wrote, “For a while, I was getting 500 emails a day. Some were vicious, but many others were extremely positive and inspiring.”

It has been reported that Amy Chua also received death threats.

The problem is that often what we read on Internet Forums and Blogs are opinions written as if they are the truth, which may influence a few that cannot see the difference to react violently since the Virtual World, without the filters used by the traditional media, quickly spreads hate and lies.

Lest we forget, this sort of intolerance where opinions are expressed as facts may have encouraged Jared Lee Loughner to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona in the head, kill six (one of the dead was six years old) and wound thirteen.

“Ironically,” Chua wrote in the China Daily, “compared with many parents in China, I might not even be considered very strict. My husband is Jewish-American, and he always insisted that my daughters got a lot of fun and freedom.”

Interestingly,” Chua says, “when it comes to child rearing I think the East and the West have opposite problems. So perhaps what the Chinese can learn from my book is the opposite of what Westerners can.

“In general, I think Western parenting gives children too much freedom at too young an age. The average American child spends almost 70 percent more time watching television than attending school.”

Continued on July 4, 2011 in The Ugly Face of Intolerance – Part 2

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Capturing a Vanishing China

June 23, 2011

I feel compelled to write about a one-star review that appeared recently of Tom Carter’s China: Portrait of a People.

In fact, as I write this post, Carter’s book has had 100 reviews. Eighty-eight earned five stars and eleven four-star reviews. There is only one one-star review.

My wife is Chinese and was born in Shanghai (discover the modern city) during Mao’s Great Leap Forward then was sent to a labor camp as a teen during The Cultural Revolution. When she first saw the photos in Tom Carter’s book, she said he is the first and only photojournalist to capture the heart and soul of China.

What she was talking about was the rural Chinese who have always been the invisible heart and soul of China. If it weren’t for those same rural Chinese, Mao and the Communist Party would have never won China’s Civil War.

What follows is the rambling, rant of a one star review written by someone calling him or herself Xuemin Lin.

Lin says, “Ignorance of all American who think that these photos show the reality China, you don’t know the truth. Tom Carter pictures can only show that poor farmers and rural areas. He ignoring the majority of China’s middle class and developed districts in urban life intentionally. We have a modern apartment and a beautiful new car and stylish clothes. Why Tom Carter just want to show the barefeet farmers and the minorities? His pictures make you believe we Chinese all are swarthy skin and the tooth is not good and make our homes in the mountains area. China’s economy has grown rapidly. The United States owes a debt to total billions of dollars to China. China will soon become a superpower in the world! Han people will lead Asia and then the world. So, do not believe that this book is shows the real China! Tom Carter in a planned way only want to show you the poor! I upload his video got from the Youku website so yourself can see his photos is not the good. Do not by this book I suggest!”

Lin claims that the majority of Chinese belong to the emerging middle class. Lin is wrong. China has a few decades to go until more than a billion people join the modern middle class lifestyle.

Even China’s leaders have admitted that China is not as developed as America or Europe and that China will never rival American super power status. The best China may attain is a regional military super power and a global economic super power.

To understand what I mean, you may want to read Amy Chua’s Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance–and Why They Fall.

It is a fact that China is modernizing at a pace never before seen in history and more than three hundred million Chinese now live in urban cities similar to Shanghai and Beijing and belongs to China’s middle class. However, that leaves about 1.2 billion people that have not yet joined that middle class and 800 million of those people still live as Carter shows us in his photos.

If China accomplishes its goal to modernize most of China and lift the majority of Chinese into the middle class, the world that Tom Carter captured with his photos will vanish. Our only reminder of that China will be his book.

What Lin’s one-star review really reveals is a shame among some Chinese that should not exist. China should be proud of its rural peasants because they have always been the backbone of China and those people deserve their moment in the sun or between the covers of China: Portrait of a People

When I visit China, I want to escape America for a few weeks but realize that I cannot escape the Golden Arches of McDonalds, or Starbucks, Pizza Hut and KFC, which is the worst thing China could adopt from America.  In addition, China has also inherited the obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer that come with this fast food, middle class, and motorcar culture invented in the West.


Some of America’s history captured in photos and song.

In addition, I’ve complained that China has no artist comparable to America’s Charles Russell or Bev Doolittle — great artists that captured the heart and soul of the America that existed before Europe and the industrial revolution arrived to fill the air with poison.

However, Tom Carter’s photos capture some of that world in China that will soon be lost. After China has paved over its past, without Tom Carter’s photos we would never know what that world was like.

Therefore, I ask the Xuemin Lins of China, “What is it you have against Tom Carter capturing what is fast disappearing as China becomes another middle class, smog choked clone of Los Angeles, London, Paris and New York?”

I prefer the China where people are practicing Tai Chi in the early morning fog.

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.