Asian Students at UCLA, UCSD and UC Berkeley: The Price of Success?

When you look at the race of undergraduates attending the premiere state schools out here in California – UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD — Asian students dominate.

At UCSD, for instance, 50% of undergrads are Asian. At UCLA and UC Berkeley the percentage of Asian undergrads are respectively 40% and 42%.  In contrast, whites represent 23% of the student body at UCSD, while Hispanics and blacks represent an alarmingly low 13% and 1% respectively.  I’d be surprised if there are any other universities in the country that are so heavily Asian.

Asian Success at UC Campuses

The reason why Asians are a dominant presence at the premiere research institutions in my state is because the UC system picks students based predominantly on grades and class rank. Asians’ tremendous academic success here has generated a great deal of grumbling among non-Asian parents and tremendous pride among Asian parents.

I’m bringing this up today because of this essay that I read in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend:

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

In her WSJ essay, Amy Chua, a Yale law professor and the author of a new memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, shares her take on why Asians students  excel.

I found the essay disturbing. And I am not the only parent who experienced a visceral reaction to this essay — close to 1,700  people have commented on it and most of the observations that I read were negative.

Chua’s Take on Parenting

Here is how Chua begins her WSJ essay:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. 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. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

  • attend a sleepover
  • have a play date
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.

At first I thought her essay was a parody, but it’s not. What do you think of this parenting style?

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller and a workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree. Follow her on Twitter.

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28 Responses to Asian Students at UCLA, UCSD and UC Berkeley: The Price of Success?

  1. nadomary December 27, 2014 at 4:32 am #

    So,my son just completed his first quarter t UCSD, He had no problems getting great grades in high school, the grades were average to above at UCSD (not like in high school). Going to UCSD has been a difficult adjustment for him and our whole family. He has struggled to fit in as a caucasian. He is living in the dorm with 9/12 of the students asian. He says all the asians are “shut ins”, that they only play video games and study and never leave their dorm rooms. I hope the cultural differences eventually work out because I love that he is in a culturally/racially diverse environment. I understand it’s a competitive school, but I hate the grade grubbing due to a standard bell curve grade distribution, and I wish that asian parents realized that there’s more to getting a job, and life, than just grades. It should be about what you learn.

  2. tom jang November 27, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    we want all those things in real life, not just in college.

  3. Miranda May 1, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    Lol, she was CLEARLY sarcastic in that excerpt. She raises her child to give their best effort, and getting a B is simply not anyone’s best effort. Anyone can get an A; it’s a matter of how much time and effort you put into your work.

    Her children will be more competent and knowledgeable. They are HER children, after all. I don’t get how you could criticize someone’s way of raising their child when they turn out to be successful.

    Sorry, I’m not sorry.

    • stoopid jang February 20, 2015 at 5:08 am #

      Not true. You make it up. No proof – just circumstantial comments.

      More like not marry, or marry wrong, or never marry — serious issues due to Tiger attachment issues.

      Check in 20 years — disfunctional tiger mom = disfunctional family

  4. Ted April 22, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    This is the bottom line folks.

    Lets compare Amy’s kids to YOURS in 20 years and to YOU in Twenty years.

    My take is they will be more successful, more competent, and more secure about the selves than anyone here. It’s that simple.

  5. T.Tao February 21, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    I am an Asian immigrant myself but I am horrified with Amy Chua way of raising our children. What is the true purpose of life other than being happy in life?
    Drilling knowledge in young brain is not a way to raise kids.
    O’reilly on Fox news invited her to come on culture warrior segment and she refused.
    Instead, she went on liberal media and bragged about her way of parenting. It seems that she is not confident how she would be received rather than really believing in her parenting.
    It may give short term advantage to children but time will prove long term damage through entire life of a child.

  6. Mack Burd May 19, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    UCSD here is 50% Asian. San Diego is 50% Mexican,40% white ,7% black, 3% Asian .

    For the eight students at a California high school with the same last name-Nguyen- it was obvious their wallet-size snapshots would be sharing the same yearbook page.

  7. Andre M. Smith April 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    I checked Asian. I had heard it was harder to apply as an Asian, so as a point of pride, I had to say I was Asian. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/

    In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins#Pride

    1) Tiger Sophia, you may have checked Asian which does have a “tax,” however you also got big bonus points for being a legacy many times over. The upshot is that you had help getting in unlike these Asian Americans below who live at the poverty line and don’t have Ivy League parents with deep pockets.

    2) By checking Asian when, actually, you are of mixed race, you have taken a spot away from those who don’t have the benefit of applying to a less competitive race slot. Thanks to you, someone who[se] life could be completely changed did not get a spot. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/

    For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29

    Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, the daughter of a mother of mixed Asian ethnicity of no known religious involvement and a secular — whatever that means — American Jewish father has, ostensibly been raised as a Jewess in an atheistic family positing itself as . . . ? When she applied for admission to Harvard she descended into a pride of Asianness to avail herself of an ethnic quota advantage.

    This duplicitous young woman is, indeed, her mother’s daughter! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=230907266920263&set=o.134679449938486&type=1&theater
    ________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  8. Andre M. Smith April 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I believe some useful purpose will be served by offering here, what the lawyers might like to call, but will seldom welcome, a healthy second opinion; a collective opinion that will demonstrate in abbreviated form the absolute folly of any attempt to teach music to children in the manner advocated by Amy Chua and her supporters.

    These titles, with a few accompanying comments, should be read only as an introduction to a vast, interesting subject. There is one observation one can make about them all, and many more on this same subject, if needed to prove the point: Their attempt at an inherent humane understanding. I shall let the individual writers speak for themselves. To wit:

    C. C. Liu [fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies, The University of Hong Kong]: A Critical History of New Music in China, Columbia University Press, 2010.
    By the end of the nineteenth century, Chinese culture had fallen into a stasis, and intellectuals began to go abroad for new ideas. What emerged was an exciting musical genre that C. C. Liu terms “new music. With no direct ties to traditional Chinese music, “new music” reflects the compositional techniques and musical idioms of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European styles. Liu traces the genesis and development of “new music” throughout the twentieth century, deftly examining the social and political forces that shaped “new music” and its uses by political activists and the government. http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-962-996-360-6/a-critical-history-of-new-music-in-china
    ___________________

    Brahmstedt’s China travels bring recognition: TTU [Tennessee Technical University] trumpet professor “Outstanding foreigner.” http://www.tntech.edu/pressreleases/brahmstedts-china-travels-bring-recognition-ttu-trumpet-professor-qoutstanding-foreignerq/
    ___________________

    Music Education in China: A look at primary school music education in China reveals numerous recent developments in general music, band and string programs, and private lessons. Music Educators Journal May 1997 83:28-52, doi:10.2307/3399021. Full Text (PDF)
    ___________________

    Howard Brahmstedt and Patricia Brahmstedt: Music education in China. Music Educators Journal 83(6):28-30, 52. May 1997.
    ___________________

    Joseph Kahn and Daniel J. Wakin: Classical music looks toward China with hope. The New York Time, 3 April 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/arts/music/03class1.htm?pagewanted=all
    ___________________

    Ho Wai-Ching: A comparative study of music education in Shanghai and Taipei: Westernization and nationalization. A Journal of Comparative and International Education 34:2, 2004.
    ___________________

    Yuri Ishii and Mari Shiobara: Teachers’ role in the transition and transmission of culture. Journal of Education for Teaching 34(4):245-9, November 2008.
    There are some common trends, which indicate that certain values are now shared among music education policies of many Asian countries. These are an emphasis on the purpose of education as the development of children’s total human quality rather than mere transmission of skills and knowledge by rote learning, the encouragement of a learner-centered approach, the introduction of authentic assessment, the integration of existing subjects, and the assertion of cultural specificity.
    ___________________

    Chee-Hoo Lim: An historical perspective on the Chinese Americans in American music education. Research in Music Education May 2009 vol. 27 no. 2 27-37.
    ___________________

    Howard Brahmstedt: Trumpet playing in China. P. 29. International Trumpet Guild Journal, February 1993.
    ___________________

    Richard Curt Kraus: Pianos and politics in China. Middle-class ambitions and the struggle over Western music. Oxford University Press. New York, 1989.
    ___________________

    From Shanghai Conservatory to Temple University
    Yiyue Zhang holds both Bachelors and Masters in Music Education from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Music Education at Temple University. Ms. Zhang is from a family of music. She first learned Chinese classic dance from her father at the age of 3. She then started to learn accordion at the age of 5 and piano at the age of 6. During the close to 20 years of piano training and education, she has also been learning saxophone, cello, vocal music and percussion instrument of Chinese ethnic nationalities. In addition to piano solo, Ms. Zhang has rich experiences as a piano accompanist for vocal and chorus performances. When she served as the accompanist for the female choir of Shanghai Conservatory in 2006, they participated in the Fourth World Chorus Competition and won the gold medal for female choir, silver medal for contemporary music and another silver medal for theological music. Before came the United States, Ms. Zhang taught general music at Shanghai Hongqiao Middle School and Shanghai North Fujian Rd. Primary School as her internship in 2006. From 2006 to 2008, she taught piano and music class in Shanghai Tong-de-meng Kindergarten while held Chinese Teacher Qualification Certificate. Ms. Zhang is currently the piano accompanist of Chinese Musical Voices located at Cherry Hill, NJ as well as the assistant conductor of Guanghua Chorus located at Blue Bell, PA. While holding Early Childhood Music Master Certification (Level 1) from The Gordon Institute for Music Learning, she is also actively engaged in the educational and cultural activities with the networks of local Chinese schools in the Philadelphia area. http://www.temple.edu/boyer/music/programs/musiced/MusicEducationGraduateAssistants.htm
    ___________________

    Li Ying-ling: Essential study on the function of children’s music education.
    Music education is beneficial in the comprehensive development of children’s healthy personality, helpful to enlighten the children’s creative thinking, helpful to educate the regulation senses of children, helpful to develop the children’s language and good emotion. It has certain social effect and realistic meaning for the growth of children. Every teacher should pay attention to the functional character of children music education, consciously meet the demands for music education of the children nowadays, strengthen the socialization function of music education, promote socialization proceeding of children. Music Department of Kunming University. Journal of Kunming University 2:2009.
    ___________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  9. Andre M. Smith April 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    I divide my year annually between New York and Shanghai. One of my common visitations in the latter city is to the area in and around The Shanghai Conservatory of Music. About four years back the school built a large new building on Fenyang Lu. Along the street side is a lower level with a string of music stores stocked with new instruments. In four of those stores I counted, literally, one trumpet, one horn, one trombone, no tuba, two flutes, one clarinet, one oboe, no bassoon, a handful of strings (but no string bass), and two-hundred pianos! The single trombone (my instrument) looked and felt like it had been made in an industrial arts school as a class project. I asked one of the clerks how many trombone students were
    then enrolled in the Conservatory. “Five,” he replied. I told him it would be impossible for any serious student of that instrument to plan advancement playing such useless metal and asked what brand of instruments are taught upstairs. All the trombones were imported by the school, only as needed, from Yamaha in Japan. But, why the sea of pianos?

    Most parents do not want their children spending, i.e., wasting, their time on any instrument for which a student can not enter a contest and win prizes. Prizes mean medals and certificates, which Mommy and Daddy can display as their own achievements by extension. It is the major conservatories in China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, and Wuhan) which are responsible for continuing to nurture this false status, while, visually at least, giving the external impression that China is a major cultural locus of Western classical music. Anyone who has heard the wind sections of a major symphony orchestra in China will hear just how major the cultural locus is in China for those instruments. Naïve morons; school and parent alike!

    For the serious student having neither interest nor ability to become a graduate of Harvard Medical School, this phony sequence of contest successes may lead to Juilliard in New York or Curtis in Philadelphia. “If a clown like Lang Lang can make it, then so can my little angel. Who is, of course, the most adept keyboard wizard to blossom since Lawrence Welk or Rachmaninoff.” Stage mothers: Away with them!

    All of this clap-trap nonsense has no relationship whatsoever to two very important issues: music or Asian American. It is, with the rarest of exceptions, largely Oriental in the homeland. Atavistic immigrants from those eastern cultures or those descended directly therefrom – like the ever-psychobashing Kommandant Amy Chua – have some untested, sentimental notion that music opens doors and ensures careers in whatever direction the unmusical music student chooses; which the student is free to choose, so long as it isn’t music. (Try to figure out that one. “You are free to study physics or mathematics, so long as you don’t attempt to make a career of them.”)

    For the past forty years during my own studies in medicine and music in New York I have been wedded to and worked closely with and around nurses, physicians, surgeons, and medical technicians active in all the standard disciplines. Those persons have come from all modern regions of the world. And, yes, some of my coworkers have come from the beloved Harvard Medical School. But, I can write with authority, the number of those professional persons who have had any direct contact at any times in their lives with piano or violin is insignificantly small.

    No one has ever wasted time typing me as a wimp. Nevertheless, with an Amy Chua of my own only thinly masking a contempt while ostensibly trying to encourage me before the age of ten by classing me as “garbage, “lazy,” “useless,” and a host of other niceties (a savage, a juvenile delinquent, boring, common, low, completely ordinary, a barbarian) all the while forbidding me to sit on a toilet until I can play triplets in one hand against duolets in the other mechanistically en duo with a metronome might have (likely would have) set me up both for advanced training to climb The Texas Tower and chronic constipation.
    ___________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  10. Andre M. Smith April 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    For all my focus on this subject I think the following text, written from the trenches on the other side of The Pacific, should be required reading everywhere else; perhaps even over there.

    Cordially,

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.
    __________________________

    Chinese Mom: American ‘Tiger Mother’ clueless about real Chinese parenting
    The “Chinese” parenting style advocated by Asian-American author Amy Chua is no longer popular among Chinese mothers
    By Helen He 20 January, 2011
    http://www.cnngo.com/shanghai/life/helen-he-dont-demonize-chinese-mothers-545975

    As a post-1980s mother, I, like many other young moms in China, often seek parenting advice from various channels and never miss reading the latest popular books on parenting.

    Recently, a book titled “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” written by Yale university professor Amy Chua on the parenting experience of a Chinese mother, stirred up a controversy in the West after an excerpt from the book was printed in the Wall Street Journal.

    I’m a born-and-bred Shanghainese mother, not that proficient in English, so I wasn’t able to read Amy Chua’s entire work. But I did have friends translate a book excerpt printed in the Wall Street Journal for me.

    The author claims that mothers, by being strict and narrowminded and focusing only on results, are able to nurture child geniuses.

    This is clearly a utilitarian take on parenting and I was deeply astounded that Chua lauds this as a forte of Chinese mothers.

    I only want to say: Please don’t demonize Chinese mothers.

    Amy Chua’s claims are misleading because Chinese-American women cannot be said to represent mothers in mainland China, and thus are unable to objectively elaborate on the parenting attitudes and experiences of Chinese mothers.

    Amy Chua does not speak for all of us
    Environment has a big influence over a person’s values, and the role of a mother is not something that every woman takes to immediately.

    The Chinese parenting method Chua champions has no claims to authenticity.Every mother gradually devises her own parenting method, which is often shaped by her own experience growing up, as well as the environment around her.

    According to reports, Amy Chua is a Filipino of Chinese descent.

    Her parents emigrated to America and underwent an intense struggle to set their roots in a foreign land, which inevitably led them to adopt a more utilitarian outlook in raising their children: “We struggled to get you this new citizenship status, the best way to repay us as our children is to succeed in life.”

    Amy Chua brings up Confucius in her article to explain why Chinese parents feel that their children are indebted to them for life. But, she probably doesn’t know that there is another fundamental saying in the Confucian school of thought that “ethics matter more than results, harmony more than competition.”

    Simply put, one should not be overly aggressive in trying to outdo others nor adopt a mindset that every investment should get due returns.

    Confucius also believed that education should be something tailored according to an individual’s talents and capabilities, rather than a force-fed regime.

    In other words, the parenting that Amy Chua received while growing up already deviates from Chinese traditions, and despite her attempts to follow in the footsteps of her parents, the Chinese parenting method she champions has no claims to authenticity.

    This strict parenting style, if blindly — or even vengefully — repeated among successive generations, will only be a prolonged tragedy.

    The parenting styles of post-1980s mothers
    The bulk of parents in China today comprise children born in the 1970s and 1980s. I will raise two examples to illustrate how Amy Chua’s perception of Chinese parenting methods differs from current practices in modern China.

    Kaixin001, China’s Facebook that’s popular among the post-1980s generation in China, recently held two online polls.

    One was titled “If you had a girl, what would you teach her?” while the other was “What would you do if you discovered your teenage son was in love?” Each had a total of 97,470 and 28,915 respondents, respectively.

    a.. More on CNNGo: Another ‘Tiger Mother’ rebuttal from across the ocean
    In the first poll, piano and karate came out on top with 55 percent and 54 percent of the total votes. In third place was the response “How to deal with men,” which shows that young parents are also concerned about their child’s interpersonal skills and EQ.

    In the second poll, there were more than 15 different response options, but only 366 netizens (less than one percent of respondents) chose the most extreme option of sharply reprimanding the child.

    The reason why books such as “Fu Lei’s Letters Home” and “Education of Love,” as well as more recent titles such as “A Good Mother Is Better than a Good Teacher” and “An Average Student at Home,” are so well-received among Chinese parents is because they reflect a parenting mindset premised on mutual respect and communication between parent and child — an attitude that’s fast becoming the norm in China.

    The parenting method that Amy Chua encourages, one of forcing a child to discover his talents through disciplined and repeated practice, is contrary to the upbringing that many young Chinese mothers have received.

    The parent-child relationship depicted in “Growing Pains,” an American television series popular in China in the 1980s, is something that is finding favor with many mothers of my generation.

    When I was in university, the way the Seaver family openly communicated with each other was something I could identify with.

    This strict parenting style, if blindly — or even vengefully — repeated among successive generations, will only produce a prolonged tragedy.Along with the opening up of China, my parents’ generation had also opened up to other methods of parenting. They no longer held on to a “spare the rod and spoil the child” mindset, but instead saw their children as equals and hoped to build friendships with them.

    Nurturing healthy individuals rather than child prodigies who have no fun
    The desire for one’s child to be a straight-A student or a musical genius seems simple and naive to most Chinese mothers.

    A survey of 1,285 mothers of children up to six years old conducted by Babytree, China’s largest parenting website, found that health, happiness, self-confidence and kindness were the four most important traits that mothers hoped their children would have.

    About 77 percent of mothers did not expect their children to have particular talents and 65 percent of mothers said they would encourage children to pursue their hobbies, even if it was not an interest shared by the mother.

    The most important wish among mothers was for their children to have a happy, stress-free life.

    The point I wish to emphasize is this: a child is a gift, but the right to control him is not a given.

    The child that we nurture may subtly be influenced by our thoughts and values while under our care, but this does not mean that we should forcefully deprive them the independence to discover and grasp other opportunities that the world offers.

    Taiwanese author Lung Ying-tai wrote in her book “Seeing Off” that the role of a parent is merely to stand by one’s child and watch his back as he gradually ventures afar.

    This very appropriately describes the mindset of many young parents in China today.

    To raise a child is to give him the freedom to build a life of his own, rather than to force him to become a replica of your own successes or as compensation to make up for your regrets. As such, the right to decide what is good or bad for a child is not entirely up to the parents — the child should have a say, too.

    If life really is a race, instead of encouraging your child to tirelessly try to outdo others and come in first, why not let him run at an enjoyable pace so he can admire the sights along the way?

    I dare say that most Chinese mothers, especially those belonging to the post-1980s generation, do silently but lovingly encouraging their children to make the most of life in exactly this manner — a mindset contrary to that advocated by Amy Chua.

    Article translated by Debbie Yong. See the original Chinese version here.

    http://www.cnngo.com/shanghai/life/helen-he-dont-demonize-chinese-mothers-545975

  11. Andre M. Smith April 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    An integral amalgam of defining examples of narcissism that Professor Chua has instilled in her two daughters is self-advancement with sexual provocation. Her public signature posture is one of excessive toothiness, for a university professor exceedingly vulgar displays of long legs, and breast projections that might have won her Blue Ribbons as “Best in Show” as a candidate in any Sweater Queen contest during the 1940s or ‘50s. http://www.britishpathe.com/video/sweater-queen-contest She never misses an opportunity to increase the image of her breast size by folding her arms under them; in one oft-reproduced photograph she actually appears to be elevating the left one nudged up by a folded arm. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Amychua4.png

    The elder Chua daughter, Sophia, has learned her lesson well. http://www.nypost.com/rw/nypost/2011/01/18/entertainment/photos_stories/sophia_chua–300×450.jpg and http://www.facebook.com/amytigermother?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=230907580253565&set=o.134679449938486&type=1&theater,

    Birds of a feather . . . A coop of nesting trophy wives!
    _______________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  12. Andre M. Smith March 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Professor Chua is a woefully ill-informed parent, one ignorant of just what is happening in some parts of education in America. Fully confident in her presumed success as a writer with an editorial staff at Penguin shadow boxing for her and unapologetically wearing her signature plastic smile for public appearances, the Lawyer Chua is trying to persuade and convince; on both counts controversially, but with enough negative reactions to cause her subsequently to attempt a dilution of the intensity in her initial self-congratulatory tirade by latterly asserting that her writing is merely one person’s experiences of some trying times in motherhood. To gain working points among the Old-Boy network, the prime lubricant of Yale, Professor Chua initially claimed that she is a Tiger Mom as Chinese maternal type; Fierce! When that showpiece veneer didn’t sit well with mothers who are the real thing, i.e., mothers from China, this faux cat altered the validity of her claim to violence by stating that she is a Tiger Mom because she was born in 1962, a Year of the Tiger. That a tenured Professor of Yale can – must? – openly justify her self-classification with superstitious underpinning should provide anyone what is needed to draw a conclusion about the level of intellect afoot in Yale Law School. Professor? Indeed!

    Any of Chua’s public statements of the purposes of her work evolve to fit the tenor of the evolving criticisms directed at it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/amy-chua-tiger-mom-book-one-year-later_n_1197066.html It has passed, in her own words, from (1) practical handbook for parenting to (2) tongue-in-cheek (whatever that’s supposed to mean), to (3) memoir, (4) satire, (5) parody, (6) “a coming of age book for parents” (7) “the book is about a journey”; and who knows what else as she makes the rounds of the book circuit trying to snare yet more unsuspecting purchasers into her net. That she can, without blushing, class a single work with such a range causes me to wonder what kind of grade she got at Harvard for her command of the English language. She’s Trollope (the author), Pope (the author), The Wicked Witch in Hansel und Gretel and Gullible’s Travels all penned together into one oversized Pamper. Anyone who can’t read the monetary cynicism driving the kaleidoscope of this whole Tiger Mom scam and its spurious, unproven claimed insights into parenting, with variant latter-day reflections by the author herself, deserves to have paid full retail price for this book.

    “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why-asian-americans-like-me-are-in-therapy/
    Stamp collecting, fishing, lazing about on a summer day, science club, Brownie Scouting, baseball, birthday parties, church annual picnic, kite flying, visiting relatives, kissing, jumping rope, student council, insect classification . . . Away with this woman! “Fun” must be one of the more overused, misunderstood words in the American lexicon. Chinese parent = The Model Minority? In China?

    “I’m happy to be the one hated.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why-asian-americans-like-me-are-in-therapy/

    “If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. http://amychua.com/

    That’s it perfectly stated in Tigerese: Either / Or; not both. Amy Chua is a chameleonic con artist. PT. Barnum certainly was right, one “. . . born every minute!”
    ______________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  13. Andre M. Smith March 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.

    Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn’t conduct this at age 50! And he isn’t the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.

    And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!

    For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it’s practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.

    Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.

    Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.
    ______________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  14. Andre M. Smith March 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    Continuing to follow the saga of what may be one of the more outrageous examples – and there are similar examples aplenty! – of the child abuses of Amy Chua, I think it timely and prudent to provide a healthy, humane counterpoint by way of a much different kind of example of adult guidance to a young stranger. To wit:

    ADVICE TO A YOUNG PERSON INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN THE LAW

    In May 1954, M. Paul Claussen, Jr, a 12-year-old boy living in Alexandria, Virginia, sent a letter to Mr Justice Felix Frankfurter in which he wrote that he was interested in “going into the law as a career” and requested advice as to “some ways to start preparing myself while still in junior high school.” This is the reply he received:

    My Dear Paul:
    No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he is a cultivated man. If I were you I would forget about any technical preparation for the law. The best way to prepare for the law is to be a well-read person. Thus alone can one acquire the capacity to use the English language on paper and in speech and with the habits of clear thinking which only a truly liberal education can give. No less important for a lawyer is the cultivation of the imaginative faculties by reading poetry, seeing great paintings, in the original or in easily available reproductions, and listening to great music. Stock your mind with the deposit of much good reading, and widen and deepen your feelings by experiencing vicariously as much as possible the wonderful mysteries of the universe, and forget about your future career.
    With good wishes,
    Sincerely yours,
    [signed] Felix Frankfurter

    From THE LAW AS LITERATURE, ed. by Ephraim London, Simon and Schuster, 1960.
    __________________

    I knew that a Paul Claussen had been a major figure (1972-2007) in the Office of the Historian of The United States Department of State in Washington, with an abiding interest in The Great Seal of The United States. http://diplomacy.state.gov/documents/organization/101044.pdf
    An obituary of Dr Claussen is on page 47 in http://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/86414.pdf
    and http://www.thefreelibrary.com/M.+Paul+Claussen,+history‘s+friend%3A+office+of+the+historian+suffers+a…-a0167843232

    So, wishing to determine whether or not the elder Claussen was, indeed, the boy writing to Justice Frankfurter in 1954 I wrote to his former colleague at State. The reply received today follows.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: PA History Mailbox
    To: ‘Andre M. Smith’
    Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 10:11 AM
    Subject: RE: Chris Morrison

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    Copied below is the response I received from one of Paul Claussen’s long-time colleagues here in the Office of the Historian.

    Yes it is. The young Paul wanted to be a lawyer and so decided to write Felix Frankfurter and ask for his advice. Frankfurter evidently was taken with his letter and wrote back at length…Frankfurter of course kept a copy and the text of the letter has been published in collections of Frankfurter’s writings.

    Please contact us of you have any additional questions.

    Best regards,
    Chris

    Christopher A. Morrison, Ph.D.
    Historian, Policy Studies Division
    U.S. Department of State
    Office of the Historian (PA/HO)
    _________________________________

    Dr Claussen did follow the advice of Justice Frankfurter. And he came out of that advice none the worse for it. The world is much bigger, richer, more tolerant, and more laden with opportunities than the blinkered view of Amy Chua would have her daughters and fellow fear-laden mothers without Ivy League tenure believe.

    For a very well-balanced alternative to the mania – and it is nothing less – to which the many Chuas of the world subscribe, read the refreshingly informed reports on http://orient.bowdoin.edu/orient/article.php?date=2009-12-04&section=3&id=2, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/28/china, and http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/10/16/liberalarts
    ________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  15. Andre M. Smith March 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Some words penned in response to the thoughts of a student writing elsewhere . . .

    I would not normally lock horns and try to best a junior in high school; I’m hoping you do not read my words here as such, for they are meant for you only as a provocation to further thought to your ideas well-presented.

    You’ve written that you “used to get frustrated when I had to practice violin and I really didn’t want to . . .” Do I read correctly that you no longer “get frustrated?” If so, that’s a remarkable advancement. As a musician myself I want to ask you, Why do you practice violin and not another instrument of your choosing less frustrating, for examples, flute, harpsichord, tuba, or tabla. There is a vast – and I do mean vast! – repertoire for each of those, and many other, instruments that could challenge you unendingly for the remainder of your life. Instead of spending hours at your chosen instrument (whichever it may be) in the drudgery of isolated practice, why not spend more of your time in practice with music ensembles of various kinds. This can yield a discipline and advancement of a uniquely different kind. If you are studying formally with a violin teacher I’m quite sure he will confirm the well-founded idea that, as a performer, playing an instrument is one kind of challenge but playing an instrument WITH PEOPLE is significantly more so. A musician in isolation is a musician limited. And herein lays one, only one, of the transparent contradictions of the way Professor Chua has taught her two daughters to approach their instruments; opportunistically solely for unartistic purposes.

    A fundamental flaw in the approach to music of Amy Chua – an amusical hack with no known talent for an art of any kind! – is that she has decided it’s perfectly acceptable to pervert one of the greater of the fine arts for use in ulterior purposes. In the example of the Chua family, so-so slogging through masterpieces of music was used to impress others when applying for admission to university. (Would Professor Chua dare to advocate this openly with religion, physics, good grammar, or issues of national interest?) The whole idea that her elder daughter, Sophia, played a debut recital in Carnegie Hall is an early example of the pervasive blight of résumé bloat on which social climbers like Amy Chua have advanced themselves; a blight to which the Chua daughters were introduced early by two parents who know well how to tweak the system to gain unearned personal advantage.

    Carnegie Hall, http://www.carnegiehall.org/history/, includes three auditoria in its building: Stern Auditorium http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/, Zankel Hall http://www.gotickets.com/venues/ny/zankel_hall_at_carnegie_hall.php, and Weill Recital Hall http://www.carnegiehall.org/Information/Weill-Recital-Hall/. It was in Weill that Sophia performed as only one among a cattle-call string of young pianists that day. Do you doubt what I write here? Compare the architectural design,
    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/RV-AB160_chau_i_G_20110107132345.jpg, behind Sophia with that of the architectural design at the rear of the stage in http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/. Having been a performer, myself, in both Stern and Weill over many years you have my assurance that Sophia performed her piece in Weill. Debut recital in Carnegie Hall! Indeed!

    You have written about your parents that they are “less extreme than Chua I’ll admit, but a lot of her memoir is satire and exaggeration.” Don’t be deceived by quick-change artist Professor Chua. She has spent more than one year trying to convince readers of her text that she is some kind of nouveau belles-lettrist who did no more than exercise a writer’s license to engage her readers. In truth she meant what she wrote until her hypocritical posturing as an authentic Chinese mother — born in Illinois to a Filipino father, she neither speaks Chinese nor writes Chinese script — came back to haunt her with a ferocity that caused this self-styled Tiger Mother to recoil into improvised doublespeak. Amy Chua is a complete fake!

    All young musicians should be given only two music instrument choices to pursue in life, Violin or Piano. All else is useless waste. Any adult giving such advice is one woefully ill-informed. As a bass trombonist, my instrument has been my first class ticket from person-to-person, school-to-school, city-to-city, studio-to-studio, and stage-to-stage. With the kinds of preparations the Chua daughters were given will they ever perform, as I have, with Richard Tucker, Birgit Nilsson, Roberta Peters, Herbert von Karajan, Leopold Stokowski, and the two-thirds of The New York Philharmonic who were my schoolmates for five years in Juilliard? Forget it!

    Mercifully, I was never besieged with a Tiger Mother or Tiger Anything to motivate me. Yes, I too sometimes was bored with scales and chords. Yes, sometimes my imagined future seemed an unattainable fantasy. Yes, I did sometimes fall flat on my face in public performance (as did my teachers before me and also their teachers before them). Life went on and continues to do so.

    You’ve written that “At this point (as a Junior in high school) about 35% of the pressure to do well comes from my parents and the other 65% is complete self-motivation.” From the subtlety of your writing I suspect you’re cutting yourself short with that 65%. You appear to be much more highly motivated than your objective perspective about yourself can show you at this early time.

    The violin? I advise you to seriously reëvaluate what you believe is your relationship to any instrument of your choice; if, indeed, the violin has been your choice and not that of someone else. If the violin has been your choice, stay with it through all the coming stormy weather of doubt and seeming incompetence. If it is not, drop it in preference to another more to your liking and its fitness for your physicality. (If it’s the tuba, tell your parents that someone other than I recommended it!)

    Good Luck!

    Cordially,
    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  16. Worrying about college October 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    My parents are first-generation immigrants, and they’ve been raising me somewhere between Amy Chua’s Tiger Mother philosophy (which is what they’ve grown up with) and traditional American child-rearing philosophies.

    I can go on play dates. I can attend school dances. I play the clarinet, even if I’m not very good at it. I can go on whatever extracurricular activities I want, as long as I transport myself there. And, as you can see, I CAN go on the computer when I want to.

    All they expect from me in return?

    My best, obviously. And that’s what I give them. I’m one of the top students at my 40% Asian school, but even if I wasn’t, they’d still be proud of me. I have A’s in every subject, but that was because of personal motivation to succeed, not constant prodding. I used to whine about having to do extra math that was 3 grades above everyone else’s level, but now I’m grateful, because it was that push that helped me get to the top. I now believe that the Tiger Mother philosophy does have some truth in it. Kids, if left alone, will generally spend all of their time wasting time. I did hate those math books. But after I finished them, they were essential to me and gave me a huge advantage. So even if the kids whine and whine, remember that you have to put in your own effort to succeed. Straight A’s don’t come without some sacrifice.

    However, you can’t be too harsh, either. School dances, school plays, and other extracurriculars are all some of the best parts of growing up. If you know your child is committed to something like that, they should be allowed to attend those. They build good team, social, and leadership skills. And face it, they’re fun.

    So I believe in a balance between the harsh and the laidback parenting styles.

    I can’t imagine having been raised any other way.

  17. mba abroad January 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    I think that this parenting style might lead to a great success in the children’s grades in the short time, but for the long run – those kids are growing up miserable and will commit suicide by the end of 20 – look what happens in Japan.

    As one wrote just above me: this is a race to nowhere!

  18. John N. January 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    For an opposing point of view, see this article by Shannon Love, who argues that the Chinese-style parents do their children a disservice because participating in group activities like sports, theater, and marching band teaches a child how to work as a member of a team.

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/18962.html

    • Lynn January 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

      Hi John,

      Thanks for the link. I enjoyed the article.

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

    • Ted April 22, 2013 at 6:09 am #

      Theater as training for working in a team??? Lmfao! That’s really grasping at straws do t you think ?

  19. rhover January 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    I’m an Asian brought up mostly in the Western style by first generation immigrants. Perhaps the schools in my small NH town of 25,000 population were just too easy, but I and my sibs did very well, always at or near the top of the class. Four of us went on to Ivy League schools (despite none of us playing piano very well).

    I think this debate on child-rearing is parallel to the debate on management of employees. Human Resources departments have a common practice of having bosses identify strong and weak points for each employee, and usually employees are told to find new challenges that can help improve their weaknesses. Perhaps they don’t work well with the team, aren’t fast enough performing certain tasks, or need to speak up more in meetings. Often their rating and compensation is tied to improving those weak points.

    The alternative style is exemplified by Marcus Buckingham’s approach as detailed in his books “First, Break All The Rules” and “Now, Discover Your Strengths”. He advocates focusing on one’s strengths and not wasting any time on trying to improve one’s weaknesses which is counter to what HR groups have been pushing. He believes one gets much more enjoyment and satisfaction from becoming a superstar in sales, or customer service, or networking people, and that employers would do well to reward people for that. Rewarding people for working on weaknesses is inefficient and means diverting time and resources away from those that are much better at those tasks.

    This latter approach is like the Western style of parenting – do what you like and get really good at it. The former approach is more like the Chinese style – everyone has the capability, one just needs to train it well to get good, but it involves hard work and little pleasure at first. And in fact, this latter approach is often idealized in the west – “I just need to buckle down, and do it” – e.g. The Karate Kid or My Fair Lady. Laszlo Polgar in Hungary famously said, “geniuses are made, not born”, and to prove it, he taught his three daughters Susan, Sophia, and Judit, to become world champion chess players.

    And these debates likewise mirror the genes vs. environment debates in biology and medicine. Chinese parents believe strongly in the environment – the regimen the children get at home helps them reach their potential. Many Western parents believe strongly that certain capabilities, whether sports, math, language, or music, come from the genes as an innate strength – almost as if the future chooses the child. I have worked in clinical medicine and pharmaceutical research, and I come firmly down in the middle for all three of these debates. Neither extreme in any of the debates is the optimum all the time. The solution in the vast majority of cases is probably some combination of both sides.

    For child-rearing, I have to agree with Amy Chua’s statements that, “nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.” I know Western parents who insist that their children practice music for ten years despite not liking it very much because otherwise they believe the children will not gain an appreciation for it. However as Amy also recognizes, “This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up.”, and I’ve had my share of those cases. When I am in a kids’ team situation with other Western parents, I back off despite sometimes feeling strongly that the kids need to put in more time and effort.

    I believe that as a child, many many skills are trainable, but as they get older, the brain pathways get more set, resistance to new thinking sets in. Every kid learns their native language whether Chinese, English, or Apache, but many people believe learning new languages later in life is much more difficult. The right environmental influences early may be more advantageous for gaining skills than trying to overcome ingrained habits later on in life (as opposed to the employees’ situations where I think it’s better to focus on your strengths). The Chinese parent approach tries to expand the brain for what are deemed practical skills for life before it’s too late. You could also say the Western parent approach is doing the same thing but for different skills – perhaps creativity or other hard to measure talents.

    Evolution weeds out individuals and populations with weaknesses so the world is probably better off for having a variety of approaches.

    • kbbourg February 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      Well written. As all children are different, flexible approaches are necessary. Combinations of different parenting styles bring out the best in different children, whether it is helping a child stick to and master a new task, or further develop an innate ability.

  20. *m* January 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Amazing.

    I have been hearing a lot about the documentary “Race to Nowhere,” which talks about reducing the stress on our high school kids. Here’s a parent who clearly won’t buy into that message.

    I realize it’s a cultural thing, and that my bright, imaginative, successful high school student would be a failure by her standards. But I’ll keep him — and the the parenting style that made him the unique, interesting, self-motivated kid that he is.

    • Peter D December 2, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      you must be one of those parents that shields their children by showering praise on them for everything that they do (good and bad) while ultimately giving them a false sense of accomplishment and entitlement and set them up to fail when they go to the real world.

  21. Patty January 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    It is clearly one of high expectations. Not my style though. My kids have managed to become straight A students but I’ve always wanted them to do it for themselves.
    Isn’t this what free market advocates tout? If there is good competition, then we must all raise the bar. I think there’s something to that….

  22. Theresa Smith January 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    Wow! Just read Amy Chua’s article on “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” It was quite unnerving to read. Here’s the link http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

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