Home > book, communication, education > #1 – Brutal versus humane way of creating prodigies

#1 – Brutal versus humane way of creating prodigies

image credit: http://www.lostateminor.com/2011/01/21/why-chinese-mothers-are-superior/

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Read the above link and you would understand what it takes to create math geniuses and music wonder child. Being shamed and high extremely high expectations such as to be the number 1 student in every subject, is just what a kid has to go through daily, being brought up the ‘Chinese way’.

The article above is an excerpt from Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger. The writer aims to highlight the ‘Chinese way’ of nurturing a child. She brought across her points persuasively by appealing to the ethos, logos and pathos.

The persuasive appeal of writer’s character (ethos) helps bring the point across credibly. She began her story with a ‘tried and tested’ statement, showcasing her experience(s).

They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.

Also, the writer appealed to reason or use of arguments (logos). The writer used statistics in her article, to show the differences in how the Western and Chinese parents perceive education to be. This helps readers understand why Chinese parents stresses on academic excellence.

In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children… Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting…

Most importantly, she appealed to the emotions (pathos) by including examples from her experience and comparing it to a war-zone. She shared the process of teaching her daughter (Lulu) to play a piano piece.

I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn’t let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom….Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together…Then she played it more confidently and faster…

By including that, the writer is able to make the readers put themselves in the situation and bring out the emotions she want them to feel – the tribulations one have to go through before achieving success.

For me, I felt that Amy Chua was able to make me comprehend the ‘Chinese way’ of parenting better. Although some concepts like shaming your child is a little too extreme for me, I believe in ‘practice makes perfect’, which is the main factor in producing math geniuses and music wonder child.

Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America.

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.

Not only is that practical for the Chinese American, but also in the education system in Singapore. Ultimately, it boils down to practice and attitude. Only through working hard and the can do attitude can one truly enjoy the success of achieving your goals.

What about you? Was Amy Chua able to turn you into a believer of the ‘Chinese way’?

  1. January 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I think the ideas are extreme and potentially harmful. I recently wrote a post on it in my blog:


    • smalleyesftw
      January 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      I read your post and I agree that there is a need for balance, and to support the children rather than putting them down.

      I totally am against the idea of shaming a kid and preventing a kid from taking part in social activities, but this article made me understand where my parents are coming from in which I was brought up to believe, “nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” They really did believe that my academic achievement would reflect on their parenting.

      Also from your blog, you question why would kids owe their parent everything. I think that might have to do with the Asian culture, more like the idea of filial piety (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filial_piety). Given that parents helped the child along the journey to gain success academically or professionally, it is now your turn to repay that kindness.

  2. January 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Although I’ve never read the book, I would use a less-harsh method when I’ve a child. Personally, I am a product of a Tiger Mother and I turned out pretty fine. Children do not know what is good for them-when they’re that young. Thus, it is up to the parents to make the decision for them. However, each parents should keep in mind that, although the ‘Chinese Way’ has been effective for most people (as the stats has shown), we should moderate our parenting according to the child’s character.

    I’ve wrote a post on Amy Chua’s method as well. Do take a look:

    • smalleyesftw
      January 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      I am a product of a tiger mother too!

      I think there should be a balance when it comes to parenting but when you are a kid, sometimes you need a little push to get started.

      Will check out your post too!

      • January 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm

        Tiger Mother cub HI FIVE!

        Thank you. Your article was great in analysing how persuasive Amy Chua was in her book, through simple concepts of communication. Well done!

  3. wensssy
    January 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I think that whether the child is raised in the Chinese or Western way does not really matter because ultimately the mothers did it for the well-being of their children.
    I believe the author used her Chinese way of teaching on Lulu because she underwent the same type of teaching in which she felt that she had benefitted it.
    The review did a good job of pointing out that the teaching is abit extreme because it feels as though educating a child is like preparing for war, when in actual fact what matters most should be that the child enjoys the process of learning new things. Perfecting a skill should come with the true enjoyment of the subject, not being forced upon. Of course, this is often easier said than done.

    • smalleyesftw
      February 2, 2011 at 3:58 am

      “Perfecting a skill should come with the true enjoyment of the subject, not being forced upon.”

      Wow this is the best statement! Sometimes it is kind of hard to know what you truly enjoy when you are that young. There are just so many things to try. What if by 20 you are still looking at a skill to perfect? Compared to other friends who are already doing so well at maybe, playing the piano? :/

  4. February 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Ah Faz, we have something in common to discuss when we’re back at school! But I’m honestly ready to move on to the next topic already… Bah!

    Thank you for your comment to which I’ve replied. I can’t agree with you more on her persuasive and vivid techniques in painting the situations she has at home with regard to disciplining her daughters and frankly it made me squirm at the brutality she was able to execute!

    The book has certainly turned my initial judgemental impression around to coming to terms that there is more truth than ego, love than abuse since we are afterall, growing up in a similarly competitive environment as she did, yes? 🙂

    • smalleyesftw
      February 2, 2011 at 3:53 am

      Totally! People do not know what competition is like till they are in Singapore! Lend me the book please please please? I’m really intrigued to read more about her methods, and maybe compare it with my parents!

      • February 2, 2011 at 4:02 am

        Boleh lah kak 😉 remind me again!

  5. Ayuilyana
    March 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Based on your entry, I agree with you the fact that shaming a child is not effective. It does not help in the child’s capability in any way. I think that it brings down a child’s attitude towards learning when he is being put down. Instead, we should provide the child with positive feedback.

  6. Jeannette
    March 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    My mum was the total opposite of what was stated in the article. (Maybe she was too westernized to fit the bill of being a ‘Tiger Mother’. But, it’s probably the way that I was raised that I feel that being overly controlling over a child’s activities would only cause them to be more defiant. (However, this is also subjective to their environment. If their friends are all under the tight reign of Tiger Mothers as well, more likely than not they’ll accept their circumstance a lot easier. As someone had pointed out in the comments, it is probably true that culture has its influence as well.

  7. April 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    In my opinion, excelling academically is undoubtedly critical; however, parents should understand that social interaction is a form of learning, too. Through relationship development with their peers, children discover their sense of self and learn how to assume their social roles – what is expected of them as a student, a child, or a citizen. They also learn to decipher between right and wrong and are exposed to what is often not taught in books.

    To a child, the relentless pursuit of happiness is highly correlated to the freedom that a child has to be within grasp of his or her passions. Only when someone is interested in what he or she is doing, passion will then be found, and fun and happiness be inculcated. Following through a passion also enables the child to work harder and overcome possible challenges along the way to success, as the work is more than often not, worthy.

    In essence, parents should focus on the overall development of a child and not only in the form of academic excellence. While no one desires to remain simply mediocre, everyone deserves a chance to pursue what they deem as individuality, at least for once.

  8. April 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I SO do not agree with her methods. It’s way too extreme! Personally, if my parents adopted those methods to make me study or whatever, I’d be even more stubborn and rebel against them. But that’s just me.

    I think wanting your child to excel in his/her education, or any other aspects, is perfectly understandable but using these methods is too harsh. Parents should see what works with their child and not just stick to the method they think is most effective. Every individual works in different ways. Parents should understand that, and realise that there are other, less extreme ways, to help your child achieve success.

  9. April 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Fortunately I have wonderful parents who don’t care much about my grades as long as I don’t lack off too much 🙂
    Parents should focus more on the development of the child more than their academic excellence.
    I also believe the culture has something to do with the parents’ behavior too. For example, in America, the child can always call 911 to report on their parents but in Asian countries, we must respect and listen to our parents even when they say something wrong.

  10. April 17, 2011 at 6:31 am

    From the picture, I can’t say I disagree with what it states. In an ironic sense, #2 IS the #1 out of all who lost. In all honesty, while I feel that her methods may be effective in a brutal manner of producing a “talented” child, I believe that I will not adopt any of her methods if I were to raise my child. The way she disciplines her child is probably even more brutal than say.. training a dog. She does not seem to treat her child as a human being, but a tool, an experiment, for her to climb up the ladder of fame (be it amongst her friends or the world (i.e. book) ). Perhaps I’ve been influenced by the western way of thinking? I believe that not everyone is “built” for the academics. Therefore, Amy Chua can brag and write about how successful she has trained her “children” to be, I will never adopt any of her extreme ways to “success”.

  11. April 17, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I have met real life parents who go to extremes just to secure a good education for their children. It may be out of love, it may be out of pride or other possible reasons. Their intentions were probably right, but their methods are wrong. The children may not rebel when they are very young, but as time goes by, everything may just collapse altogether one day. Our world is an extremely competitive one now, even in Singapore where a certificate counts for almost everything. However, this should not be the right way to do it.


  12. shazz
    April 17, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I don’t think her extreme methods are necessary to discipline children to a certain extend. If I were a parent, i would discipline my child such as giving them curfews, restrict them to watching television when exams are approaching and such but not to the extend of using her extreme methods.

  13. Liza
    April 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Reading the article and your analysis, I was convinced that the Chinese way of nurturing talents is good. I agree with her that practice makes perfect, and this is shown when her daughter was able to master the music piece after being forced too.

    Though her methods are extreme, I would adopt a milder version of nurturing my children. After all, no pain no gain right?

  14. Cassandra
    April 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    The method adopted by Amy Chua is too extreme for me. I see how she is trying to persuade and justify her actions in the article with experience and such, but it comes across too evil.

    I think parents should be supportive when it comes to nurturing their kids, and expose them with choices. They should not be forcing the kids to do something and set ridiculously high standards for everything. I think this can create a stressful learning environment that can make the child resent the parents.

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