I’ve been asked by a number of Americans back in the States if the whole Chinese Tiger Mom phenomena is true. And my reply, “Oh, yes it is!!!!” Here are a few recent examples:
Today at my 2nd grader’s Parent/Teacher Conference, I heard a mother bragging to the teacher that she had her son (remember, he’s 7 years-old) memorize the first two columns of the Periodic Table.
I was talking to a 14 year-old Chinese girl recently, who told me that on weekdays, she is up at 5:00 and at seminary at 5:30, followed by school, then cram school and she is home at 10:00 p.m. She then studies for one more hour before lights out at 11:00 p.m. This growing teenage girl is getting a grand total of 6 hours sleep a night. This weekend, that same girl’s mom asked Cecily if she wanted to join the girl and her friend for a scheduled sleepover every Friday night in which the girls plan to study until 10:00 p.m., sleep, wakeup on Saturday morning and then study all day until 9:00 p.m.
And there is such thing as a Tiger Dad too–lest you think that only Tiger Moms are picked on. Recently, I spoke with an American father, who is only married to a Chinese woman. Obviously some of her Tigerness had rubbed off onto him, because he told me about his son. Last summer, between his 8th and 9th grade years, the son took a writing class. (Most Chinese kids spend their summers in academic classes to prepare them for the next year’s curriculum.) His son had written a paper for the class, but then his dad wrote the paper also so that the son could see how he would have written it. The father is a graduate of Duke law school and has been practicing law for umpteen years. And the 14 year-old son was somehow expected to compete with that!!!
Don’t get me wrong. I feel that American schools need to step it up and start expecting more from our students. BUT COME ON!!!! My kids won’t be memorizing the Periodic Table in early elementary school, nor will they be spending 17 hours a day in school or studying, nor will I expect them to pump out papers at 14 like a Juris Doctorate. But unfortunately, these are the kids at their school that they are competing with.
No wonder my kids feel a bit overwhelmed.