A Tale of Two Cultures


January 15, 2011 by torqdog

Stu brought up a thought provoking debate on education with his “Predictable Tragedy” thread and as luck would have it, there was an interesting story on NPR the other day describing the differences in how we’re raised can have a tremendous effect on how well we succeed in life. Amy Chua, aka: “the Tiger Mother” has written a book called “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” and an article titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”. In it, she describes the many differences in how our two societies go about educating our children. I’m not going to offer an opinion one way or the other but let’s just say, her method gets results and definitely raises eyebrows in the process.

Here’s a couple of excerpts that set’s the tone.

from the WSJ;

Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.

from NPR;

Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable — even legally actionable — to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty — lose some weight.” By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. … Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.

The WSJ article;




and here’s another article that sheds a negative light on the results of robotic parenting;


7 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cultures

  1. Bill says:

    So, Comrade Spiker, you like the Communist-Marxist-Socialist Chinese method, hey?

    I watched her on an interview this past week and it was very interesting. It sounded like the minute she relaxed her grip on her kids, they wandered off onto their own schedule and interests. Believe me, she gets thumbs up overall from me. She did what parents all secretly know is right and that was turn off the TV, force some hardcore music lessons and rigorous practice schedule and, of course, school, school, school! She’s a law professor and obviously brilliant.

    I got the feeling, though, that when she saw her kids back away from the “foundation” she had worked so hard to make them create that it took a big puff of wind out of her sails.

    • torqdog says:

      I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I fully endorse her methods. I think that third article from financialpost.com shed some light on the results of robotic, strict disciplinary style of raising children as it relates to a thwarting of creativity. But, it is an interesting topic, especially in today’s world where we continue to see a falling in stature globally of academic thresholds we once excelled in.

  2. Becky says:

    Both sides of the issue have interesting and valid points. I suspect a middle ground between the two styles might be best.

  3. Bill says:

    Well, you see, we just need to put God back in our schools, Randy. That’ll take care of everything. Crime, drugs, poverty, malnutrition, alcohol fetal syndrome, cuts to mental health and Headstart programs and school breakfast and lunch programs, everything. Our conservative legislature just forced the school districts in Utah to cut way back on bus service. It was already bare bones and denied to kids who lived within a day’s travel of the school. But the impact on kids’ education, truancy, absenteeism and tardiness pale in significance compared to the line-item transportation expense that is reduced or eliminated so these idiots can stand at a podium and lie about how much they “saved” the taxpayers of Utah while condeming their children to a life of marginal education and a totally corrupted-career future. In a state where the overwhelming majority of lawmakers are Extreme Conservative Republican Mormons who believe that their eternal spiritual salvation is connected to having as many children as they can physically crank out.

    So, the snake starts consuming itself, one bite at a time.

    If kids can just pray to a Christian God/Jesus/Holy Ghost/Diety without having to give equal time to Muslims and Buddhists and tip-toe around the aetheists and other non-denominational faith-based organizations, we’ll raise those dismal scores and once again be the best and brightest country in the galaxy! And if we could get tax credits to send our kids to private schools while steadily defunding public education, we can get those scores up by separating the “haves” and the “have nots,” who are dragging the “haves” down in class.

    • torqdog says:

      Jesus Bill, if you’re fishing for a response from me re; God in schools, remember, I’m the agnostic conservative. And while we’re at it, please point to anywhere in all three articles where there was even a mention of God.

      I haven’t said this in quite some time, like back in the days when we’d all gather as a family and play those card games like Crazy Eights and Old Maid. This time it’s “go fish”! ;-)

  4. Bill says:

    Naw, it wasn’t for you, sorry. It was more of a general lament about how connected everything is and when you start cutting what sounds like wasteful bureaucratric spending, to please a radical, vocal minority and the ripples and long-term effects don’t make themselves apparent for years, long afer the budget cutters are gone. How do you grow a country and its economy if the general popualtion is basically illiterate? Bill Maher said Friday night that one of Palin’s biggest gaffes in his opinion was the speech about how the country “doesn’t need a college professor lecturing “us” from the podium when that’s exactly what we need!

  5. Stu says:

    Finally got around to reading these articles. It’s one thing to examine these cultural differences at face value, and another thing to appraise them with the knowledge that China is the leading foreign holder of US Treasury securities.

    Which raises the question; is that because all the “A Students” in China view the United States as a sound financial investment, or is it simply because they hope to eventually own us?

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