12 January 2011

Charles Murray on Amy Chua's Style of Tiger Mother Parenting

Charles Murray has two daughters by his first wife -- a Thai Buddhist woman, whom he met when she instructed him in the Thai language, in preparation for Peace Corps work in Thailand. Apparently, Murray's wife used a very similar child-raising approach to Chua's Tiger Mother approach.
...the mother of my first two children was half Thai and all Chinese, and it was all so familiar. The subject heading of the email attaching the Chua article to my elder two daughters was “Bring back memories?”

My own archetypal memory is when my eldest daughter, then perhaps eight years old, came home with her first Maryland standardized test scores, showing that she was at the 99th percentile in reading and the 93rd percentile in math. Her mother’s first words—the very first—were “What’s wrong with the math?”

Both children turned out great and love their mother dearly. _CharlesMurray

Asian - American children tend to do well in North American school systems, and in general achieve significantly higher than other ethnic groups. There are genetic reasons for the differences, but it is quite likely that parenting also plays a part in higher achievement.
...large numbers of talented children everywhere would profit from Chua’s approach, and instead are frittering away their gifts—they’re nice kids, not brats, but they are also self-indulgent and inclined to make excuses for themselves. There are also large numbers of children who are not especially talented, but would do a lot better in school if their parents applied the same intense home supplements to their classroom work.

But genes play a big role in whether you can demand that your child get an A in advanced calculus or make first seat in the violin section of the orchestra. With that in mind, let’s contemplate the genes being fed into those Chua children who are doing so well....

....Guess what. Amy Chua has really smart kids. They would be really smart if she had put them up for adoption at birth with the squishiest postmodern parents. They would not have turned out exactly the same under their softer tutelage, but they would probably be getting into Harvard and Princeton as well. Similarly, if Amy Chua had adopted two children at birth who turned out to have measured childhood IQs at the 20th percentile, she would have struggled to get them through high school, no matter how fiercely she battled for them.

Accepting both truths—parenting does matter, but genes constrain possibilities—seems peculiarly hard for some parents and almost every policy maker to accept. _Charles Murray
It is fortunate for Chua that she did not make a point of differences in average Northeast Asian IQ compared to most Europeans, Asians, Africans, and other indigenous groups. She is apparently persona non grata to millions of people across the western world already -- for daring to question western parenting! Imagine if she had questioned western genetic potential!

Children need competence in many adult skills -- for their own self-confidence and to enlarge their future options in life. Modern western parents are neglecting these needs of their children. Why blame Chua for that?

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Blogger yamahaeleven said...

Hey Al, this Amy Chua parenting method may be well and good for those determined to see their children embark on Ivy League academic careers. But hardly seems appropriate for every type of child, and doesn't guarantee a person capable of Renaissance thinking, which is needed in these times of rapid change.

I would like to bring to your attention the following alternative viewpoints: http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2011/01/raising-better-college-students.html

Thursday, 13 January, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Right. You are taking the words straight from one of my other postings on the topic. The Chua approach, per se, was never meant to apply to all children.

As for the Coyote Blog article, most people commenting on the Chua article completely miss the point that it is all about developing childhood competence. Competence, once attained, is inside the child, not outside him.

An interesting side note is that East Asian children are more compliant from birth than European children, who are more compliant from birth than African children. Of course there is tremendous variation within ethnic groups as well, but the significant inter-group differences stand.

Naturally you might expect to have to use different methods to raise completely different children, regardless of race. No one reading this blog regularly is likely to be stupid enough to blindly adopt another person's approach to child raising verbatim.

Western children, entitled pampered children, have become abysmally incompetent -- which is widely bemoaned by personnel managers. The economy cannot help but suffer when the human substrate rots from within via neglect. Even benign and well-meaning neglect is destructive.

Thursday, 13 January, 2011  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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