by Jesse Loren
Imagine the majority of American students reading long texts about complex issues and raising deep, rhetorical questions while also connecting new learning to recent understanding. Imagine the ecstasy of heated conversations about the interpretation of Foucault or Goethe by the intrigued sophomore who already wrestles with philosophy, history, and politics. Imagine this nubile population later poised to take on leadership roles across America as college freshmen, comparing philosophy with behavioral psychology, and then comparing it to Persian poetry, literature, and art. YES.
Does it sound like rapture, or is it just me?
I will tell you, this utopia is impossible, unless our school’s rosters are populated by the children of Tiger Moms.
Amy Chua is the author of the memoir, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. An excerpt from the memoir recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal under the inflammatory headline, “Why Chinese mothers are superior.” The WSJ article definitely piqued my interest in parenting styles!
Imagine a million Amy Chua-like parents prodding their children to master poetry, literature, piano and violin. Imagine every American child aiming for the top spot in the class. If you build it, I will come.
Aside from the many hats I wear, including parent, I also teach high school English. After 15 years of teaching – 10 at the same high school, including many years of teaching freshmen and seniors – I have a bit of experience with parents.
My most recent negative experiences with parents have been with parents who lied on behalf of their kids. Not little lies, either. Big, assisted-their-children-with-cheating-on-their-final-projects lies. These parents lied to protect their kids from the consequences of cheating. When confronted, they aimed at the teacher. Ouch.
Surely little Johnny would never falsify letters of recommendation… at least not all of them…
Apparently, for some, it is easier to attack and threaten a teacher than it is to teach morals or accountability. I can’t imagine the Amy Chuas of the world covering for their children’s cheating. No, those kids know what hard work is and they also reap the benefits.
Instead of teaching right from wrong, many American parents are chomping at the bit to lie, deceive, and cover up for their children’s inadequacies. Many are indulgent in purchasing gaming, phones, and dance-dance technology that does absolutely nothing for their growth, but temporarily shuts-up the teenage boogers’ incessant whining for new stuff.
“But Bobby’s mom bought him the new “i-whatchamagigee”, why can’t I have one?!”
These parents confuse love with commerce.
And there you have the fate of a nation: The spoiled, over-indulged, bloated-capitalist children versus the Stepford children of Chua. Personally, I’ll take the Chua parent over the indulgent parent any day of the week, especially during finals!
While I am throwing parents under the bus, I would like to mention that one very concerned dad called my cell phone to apologize for his son’s cheating as well as his wife’s lies to cover up the cheating. He was so embarrassed that he called me from his garage. He said he couldn’t even look at them.
He asked that his son face the consequences of his actions and supported making his son recreate the correct assignment, even if he didn’t get credit. That one father calling from his garage, so embarrassed by his wife’s knee jerk reaction to protect her son rather than to teach him responsibility, renewed my faith in parents. Thanks dad. I can go to work another day!
Maybe all parents don’t have to be Amy Chua, but instilling the values of honesty, integrity, perseverance, and respect would go a long, long way.