Guess who taught me to read—my mother. When I was seven, education experts said I would never read. My mother didn’t blame them. She blamed herself and went to work to fix the problem. She told me she came home from that meeting and cried. Then she got out the coat hanger.
No matter how much I complained, I learned to read at home. Today, many American parents don’t spend enough time with their children.
Inside a Shanghai Bookstore
In America, many kids don’t like to read. To get the students I taught to read for half-an-hour a day was like pulling teeth with oily fingers. Instead, they watch television or spend hours on the Internet or hang out with friends after school.
The largest bookstore in Shanghai, China, is several stories tall with elevators and escalators. You have to wait in line to reach another floor. The bookstores I visit in Shanghai when I’m there are always crowded. On the other hand, in the United States bookstores are going out of business as if a book plague struck. In China, new ones are opening all the time.
I read ‘any damn fool can be a parent’, and it made me think that North America is not a comfortable place to be if you become a geezer. Geezer is the endearing term our teenage daughter used to call me.
When I was a kid, youngsters were to be seen and not heard. We treated our elders with respect. And I was born in America.
After the birth of Disneyland, fast food, MTV, the Internet and the iPod generation, something valuable caught a cancer that spread through too much of American culture. That something is killing off ‘respect’. In China it is called piety and piety is very much alive. In other Asian countries like South Korea, piety is just as strong. You can read more about this in Hello Korea.