Education in the Real World – Part 1/2

September 5, 2011

Many Americans live in a fantasy world, as you will learn, which may explain why fantasies and animated movies for children often earn so much money at the box office in the United States while more realistic films of a literary nature earn little.

When Henry Kissinger wrote, “American exceptionalism is missionary. It holds that the United States has an obligation to spread its values to every part of the world,” he may not have realized that spreading these idealistic values applies within the US too, from whichever group has enough political power to make it happen.

Two of these values are how to raise and educate children as if all children are equal and there should be no obstacles to success. The only parallel comparison I can make is that what has happened in America since the 1960s, is similar to what happened in China during the Cultural Revolution but without the slogans.

However, like China during the Cultural Revolution, teachers in the US may face denunciation but for different reasons. At least in China, that insanity ended in 1976.

In the US, this led to a public education system that now teaches most children as if they will all go to college, find happiness and succeed equally.

This American Cultural Revolution also spawned the self-esteem movement in parenting and education, which still raises and teaches the average American child to believe what she dreams will come true (even if she doesn’t work for it).

Due to this wide spread belief among many Americans, a law was passed by President G. W. Bush in 2001 called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which mandated that America’s Public schools had to be successful with all  students from every walk of life and ethnicity by 2014 or be considered a failure.

NCLB did not require students to study or parents to support teachers or education. The penalties for failure are severe and were designed to only fall on the shoulders of America’s public school teachers.

If a teacher was not successful teaching every child from every walk of life that was enrolled in his class, he could lose his teaching job and see the school where he taught closed even if he succeeded with more than half of his students.

Many factors may cause a child not to cooperate with his teachers or learn in school. When we consider the impact of poverty, hunger, health, safety, environment, lifestyle, and broken families on children, not every child is equal.

When it comes to school, if a child’s mind is occupied by other, more pressing priorities such as hunger or safety, education often takes a back seat to survival, which is a fact that many in the United States refuse to accept.

However, when we study the education systems of other countries such as China, it seems that these real life issues ignored in the United States are treated as a reality of life.

Continued on September 6, 2011 in Education in the Real World – Part 2


This edited and revised post originally appeared on August 8, 2011, at Crazy Normal as Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 4


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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When it comes to Parenting, One Size Does Not Fit All – Part 5/5

April 11, 2011

There is a difference in values and education between urban and rural parents since many Chinese in rural China never went to school or had a school close to the village while larger towns and cities all had schools.

In the last thirty years that has been changing. After Mao died in 1976 and as late as 1980, twenty percent of Chinese were literate and 80% were not.  In the last thirty years, literacy has been raised to above 90%. If the average Chinese parent was a SAP, that wouldn’t have happened. 

In fact, I’ve heard that Amy Tan’s (the author of The Joy Luck Club) mother’s primary concern was that her daughter speak English without an accent.

Amy Tan writes that her mother wanted her to be a doctor and a concert pianist. Amy Tan’s mother was an immigrant from mainland China and she was not a SAP parent by any definition but she wasn’t as extreme as Amy Chua either.

China’s leaders in Beijing knew that for China to modernize and prosper, the people would have to be literate and educated so starting in the 1980s, the public schools spread into rural China for the first time in history to reach as much of the rural population as possible.

However, urban education is still better than rural education. It takes more than a generation to bring about changes this drastic.

Meanwhile, the opposite is happening in the United States where the average literate person reads at or below fifth-grade level and among younger Americans we find few serious readers.

While China promotes education and is supported by Tiger Parents of all stripes, in America for the last sixty years, the SAPs have waged a war on education to make learning more fun than educational, which has damaged America’s ability to maintain its economic status in the world.

To reverse this trend, what America needs is more Tiger Parents of all stripes and fewer SAPs.

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1


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.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

When it comes to Parenting, One Size Does Not Fit All – Part 2/5

April 8, 2011

In Part 1, I mentioned that I’d been a public school teacher. I also mentioned an essay in The Wall Street Journal and a memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, released by its publisher a few days after the essay appeared

To carry this conversation further, I want to say that studies and personal experience in the classroom as a teacher say that 80% of American parents never attend a parent- teacher conference during the 13 years of a child’s public education.

For me, it was less than 20% but more than most of the staff at the high school where I taught since I made more phone calls to parents than any of the 100 teachers where I worked.

This means the “average” American child grows to be a self-centered, selfish, narcissistic adult with few of the values that made America great. Instead of a solid work ethic, the goal is to have as much fun as possible on a daily basis while chasing dreams that often do not come true and go into debt doing it.

The reason for this is that the average American parent has fallen for SAP (The self-esteem arm of Political correctness).

This method of parenting, which started in the 1960s, has been the loudest in US history and often condemns anyone that falls outside its “soft, boost self-esteem and have fun” approach to parenting.

The SAPs are also responsible for the battle against spanking as a last resort to child discipline.

To be continued in Part 3, April 9, 2011 at 12:00 PST, or return to Part 1


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.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

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.


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.”


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.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

Speaking Out about Education- Part 3/6

September 14, 2010

While teaching, I made more phone calls and wrote more referrals for unacceptable behavior than any teacher at the schools where I taught.  I know this because administration pointed it out and it wasn’t meant as a complement.

When I heard what Meyer says in the ABC news segment in Part 1 of this series, I got angry, which motivated me to write this series. 

How do you explain the results I had as a teacher?  According to the district I worked for, my students showed improvement annually on state standardized tests.

  • Stop Blaming Teachers for Everything – Parents are Responsible too.

Some of my students won awards for poetry and short stories, while my Journalism classes placed in the top in regional, state and international competitions.

My standards were high. Class work and homework made up the majority of my grading formula.  Tests and quizzes never represented more than 15% of the grade. 

When students earned failing grades on a progress report, I called every parent I could reach and told them about the homework hotline and invited them to come to class and sit with their student to motivate them to work. 

Most of those phone calls to parents resulted in no changes. Those kids still didn’t do the homework or class work.

– to be continued

Return to Speaking Out About Education – Part 2


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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