Education and China’s Growing Strength (vs. U.S.A.)

Controversy: China and U.S. Education Values

Gideon Gartner - China's Growing StrengthChina is the country that likely challenges our nation’s future more than any other, with  education goals  that are likely considered critical!  Meanwhile,  our  U.S. may have failed to recognize the importance of improving our own educational status with regard to ‘The Future of America’!

Within the education sphere are two separate but closely related challenges which any nation must deal with: national scholastic standards and the accompanying roles of parents. Regarding national scholastic standards, every country deals with children differently, and I suspect our  standards may not be as demanding as China’s. But with regard to parenting there seems to be a large gap: all available facts describe children’s parents in China as being tough while ours are soft (at least relatively speaking).

This week the media reacted vigorously to a book by Yale Law Professor Amy Chua who describes her experiences bringing up two young girls, the older one  a star while the younger rebelled. The  public reacted to book reviews in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times with hundreds of comments, effectively debating the ‘Chinese mother’ issue; while most were angry with Prof. Chua, they did not address the reality that China’s parenting habits are in fact impressive overall (when one considers the parents’ extraordinary degree of involvement)! Of the several reasons China might be  better managed overall than the U.S., one would be its education system which includes  ’intimate’ parenting  (‘standards’ which help define the education process nationally:  levels of excellence, of requirements, of attainments and perhaps of moral conduct here and there).

The Wall Street Journal article which reviewed the book in question (1/8/11) was titled “Why Chinese mothers are superior?”  a typically poor newspaper headline (it should have left out the ‘why’, and the question mark was clearly inserted to question the Chinese mother’s superiority, thus it should have been changed to  “Why Prof. Chua is Superior?”

All Chinese mothers are not Prof. Chua! While the professor worked to assure the superiority of her daughters, a high percentage of Chinese mothers (with reasonable help from fathers), work hard to ensure the success of their children. Examples include: their kids are not allowed to complain, to watch nonsense TV, to play non-educational computer games, to choose their extracurricular activities unilaterally, to receive poor class grades, and so forth. Families believe that children need to work very hard at everything they pursue, and only when they begin to visibly excel in mathematics or music or whatever, do the kids obtain praise.

But compared with the Chinese, I believe Western parents are quite lax, except perhaps when it comes to sports (as Andre Agassi attested in his book)!

End of Part 1. I will continue discussing this topic in my next post in the ‘Future of America-U.S.Competitiveness’ category of my blog, a fascinating documentary film from China called “Please Vote for Me” which is available on Netflix; it’s a real-life story filmed in a real school and in the homes of several real students.

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