Recently, I had an interesting debate about the “Tiger Mom” culture in Asia, against the backdrop of a Chinese American mother who criticized the Tiger Mom’s suppression of children’s “autonomy”. So, since we had lively discussions of this subject here, (http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/01/13/the-truth-is-out-amy-chuas-chinese-moms-attack-on-american-moms-is-actually-a-wall-street-journal-creation/), I thought we should visit with some updates.
First, it’s actually amazing how many people criticize “Tiger Mom” without actually reading what she wrote.
More details on this later, but let me just say that Chinese children are not born or brought up to be mindless robots. Plenty of them get into trouble, plenty grow up to disobey and challenge authority. Tiger Mom is about challenging a child’s autonomy. Amy Chua’s own 2 daughters questioned everything she made them do. In challenging the child’s autonomy, the child must struggle to strengthen his/her own will and discipline. Without self-will and self-discipline, autonomy/”individualism” is weak and useless. My parents never tried to “suppress” my autonomy. On the contrary, they always insisted to push me to learn to do the right things on my own initiative.
Second, I’m yet again reminded of how non-individualistic Chinese kids are, and how creative and individualistic Western children are. Beyond the obvious (and somewhat racist) stereotype that such assumptions are based on, I came across this rather interesting story: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/nyregion/standardized-testing-is-blamed-for-question-about-a-sleeveless-pineapple.html.