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Asian vs. Western Education: A Third Way? (My response to Amy Chua, Part 1) January 8, 2011

Posted by contrapuntalplatypus in Music, Saving the World, Teaching.
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(This is Part 1 of my response to Amy Chua, focusing on her article though a music teaching/educational lens. UPDATE: Part 2, consisting of some more general thoughts on parenting and how to “motivate” children to learn, is now up here. Comments, questions, and debates are welcome!)

A friend of mine tweeted an article today titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”, which he suggested would more accurately be called “How to Rob Your Child’s Life and Live it For Them.” It’s written by an Asian mother, Amy Chua, who quite genuinely believes that the Asian method of education – rote memorization and practice, insistence on high achievement, and strict discipline – produces the most successful, and in the end happiest, children. When I tweeted back my initial reaction to the article, my friend responded, “She forgets that in order to become a musician, you need talent first and then you can practice like hell.”

I found this assertion extremely interesting, but limiting – just as I found the author’s stance more compelling than one might think at first glance, but also ultimately flawed. The Asian model assumes that rote practice and strict discipline can ensure “success.” In contrast, the Western model argues that inherent “talent” – either you have it, or you don’t – is first and foremost essential. Frankly, neither of those educational models seems ideal. Isn’t there any other alternative?

Though there are aspects of Ms. Chua’s article I quite strongly disagreed with (never allowing one’s children to have a playdate or be in a school play? Requiring them to be the top student in every academic subject?), I felt she hit some things right on the mark. She states:

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work… Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun…One of the worst things you can do for your child’s self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t.

Agreed 100%. This is where the Asian theory, for me, comes out far ahead of the Western theory of “talent”. The Western model is horrendously disempowering, not to mention disheartening; children tend to assume, if they can’t get something right away, that they “aren’t good at it” and should just “give up.” (Of course, if I’d done this there’s no way I’d be a pianist today.) Say what you like about the Asian system – at least it provides some scope for improvement.

It’s only after this point that, for me, the Asian theory goes totally off the rails…

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it.

Ouch! The problem with the Asian model is that it assumes any failure to do well (in academics, music, etc) is due to lack of motivation, practice, or work ethic. As a teacher I know that far more often it’s due to a fundamental lack of understanding.  The child’s current level of comprehension is on one side, the concept is on another, there’s a gap in between – and no amount of screaming, punishment or shaming will give the child the ability to jump over the gap, any more than yelling at me would make me able to leap a fifty foot wide crevasse. Excoriating the child for “not getting it” won’t make the child any more likely to get it, only make them feel guilty for something that isn’t their fault. Rather, it’s the teacher’s responsibility to give them – one by one – the tools they need to bridge the gap on their own, and guide them through the process.

As an example of what can go so terribly, horribly wrong with the Asian model, I’ll hand it over to Ms. Chua once more.

Here’s a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style. Lulu was about 7…working on a piano piece called “The Little White Donkey”…incredibly difficult for young players because the two hands have to keep schizophrenically different rhythms. Lulu couldn’t do it. We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart. Finally, the day before her lesson, Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off. “Get back to the piano now,” I ordered.

“You can’t make me.”

“Oh yes, I can.”

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu’s dollhouse to the car and told her I’d donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn’t have “The Little White Donkey” perfect by the next day…I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic….I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn’t let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.

Lulu realized it the same time I did. I held my breath. She tried it tentatively again. Then she played it more confidently and faster, and still the rhythm held. A moment later, she was beaming.

“Mommy, look—it’s easy!” After that, she wanted to play the piece over and over and wouldn’t leave the piano…When she performed “The Little White Donkey” at a recital a few weeks later, parents came up to me and said, “What a perfect piece for Lulu—it’s so spunky and so her.”

A success story for coercion? Not quite. Not being a child psychologist, I won’t speculate on what sort of damage can be done to a 7-year old by repeated insults, bullying and threats (not to mention withholding water and bathroom breaks – surely this would count as physical abuse?) As a piano teacher, however, I can pretty firmly state that no real progress was made here.

Here’s the first warning sign: “We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart.”

This is pretty much a universal problem among pianists – playing left and right hands separately, and putting them together, are two very different mental and physical tasks! It was certainly not due to the 7-year old being “lazy”, “self-indulgent”, “cowardly,” or “pathetic.” Even less was it due to a fundamental “lack of talent” (as per the Western approach). Rather, it is simply a technical problem the child hasn’t learned to deal with. Tackling a problem like this is not the child’s responsibility nor, in fact, the parent’s (unless that parent has extensive training in music.) It is the teacher’s, and Ms. Chua should have taken the issue to him or her in the next lesson. Trying to “shame” a 7-year old into playing two-hand cross-rhythms, without help from an experienced teacher, is like trying to “shame” her into solving algebra problems when she’s never been introduced to the concept before. Lack of understanding is not something one should feel guilty about.

However, it’s pretty clear Ms. Chua did not herself have the musical experience to analyze the problem and break it down into a form that Lulu could solve. Rather she tried to solve the issue by brute force – and for hours on end this was unproductive. But then, the light dawned…or did it?

Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.

Just like that! Magic! And all it took was hour upon hour of bullying, threats, verbal and physical intimidation, insults and screaming, right?

Not so fast. Unfortunately, by Ms. Chua’s account, it sounds as though her daughter stumbled across the solution by exhaustive (literally!) trial and error more than anything else. All piano students have moments where something that didn’t work before, magically starts to fit together. Unfortunately “magic” can only go so far; the student is left with little or no understanding of what they did to make it work, or how to fix it if – almost inevitably – it stops working again at some point in the future (usually the night before a major performance!)

Threats and insults aside, the problem with rote drill as a learning method is that it tends to entirely bypass the important long-term goals (musical understanding) in favour of more peripheral short-term ones (learning “The Little White Donkey” for the next day.) As a result, the child gets “good” at playing a lot of individual pieces but often has little or no general musical comprehension, artistic expression, or even music reading ability. (More on the weaknesses of the rote system, in my own and others’ experience, here.)

An ideal educational model neither relies on inherent “talent” nor “discipline” as primary strategies for teaching. Certainly, it can be useful to exploit a child’s strengths as a teaching tool (case in point: one of my students had an amazing memory for pattern and harmony, though he had difficulties reading music. I assigned him various technical exercises in the circle of fifths pattern – usually something only more advanced students would tackle. He learned them easily.) Likewise, rote memorization and repetition can be a useful tool for learning. However, neither works as a good fundamental teaching model.

Above all, a good teacher needs the ability to be both creative and analytical (pop-culture notions of right- and left-brained people aside, the two are not mutually exclusive!) Creativity is needed in order to formulate a problem in new ways, using analogy, stories, visual images, metaphor or whatever else is needed to get an idea across. Analysis is essential for breaking down a problem into steps and then handing the student the tools they need to process those steps, one at a time – so that the previously unleapable gap becomes a series of shorter hops, or if necessary easy steps.

This dual strategy of creativity and analysis produces short-term results as well as long-term understanding. But, more important than either, it gives the student the tools they will need to solve, not only musical problems, but any problem requiring creative and/or analytical ability. Ms. Chua’s assertions aside, bullying and insulting a child won’t give them self-esteem. However, neither will telling them that “everyone has different talents” and “someday you’ll figure it out” (what kid can’t see through that sort of rhetoric to hear the underlying “you’re not good at this” and “I’m not really sure why you can’t get it now”?) What will give a child self-esteem, however, is showing them the strategies they will need to solve any problem they encounter. And, unlike a late-night, tearfully forced mastering of “My Little White Donkey”, these are positive, empowering lessons that will last a lifetime.

– The Contrapuntal Platypus

* I taught an Asian student last year who transferred into my studio. After several years of study under a “rote” method, her technique and imitative ability were quite good but she was unable to read even a simple 2-line piece in C major. Furthermore she had no comprehension of how the music was constructed, what the composer’s markings meant or what the piece was trying to portray.

I told her mother that we would need to spend some time working through the lower RCM levels to improve her reading ability, after which we could return to more advanced music. We did so and she made excellent progress, moving through about 5 RCM grades in as many months. However, about 6 months after she began lessons, her mother called to tell me that she was leaving my studio. The reason (as I found out when I asked to speak with the daughter; her mom wouldn’t tell me) was that, apparently, she “wasn’t progressing fast enough.”

I asked the mother how quickly she expected her daughter to progress – and how passing six grades in half a year could possibly be insufficient. From her answer I gathered that she wanted her daughter to be playing the sort of “flashy” music that she’d been working on before and that goals such as long-term understanding, music reading and expressivity were, for her, secondary to surface brilliance and showiness.

Similarly, when my sister taught English in Japan for a year she found that the educational system was almost entirely structured around drill. Students would memorize, word-for-word, a small set of formulaic conversations with little understanding of their meaning or structure. As a result they would be able to say, for example, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please” but have limited ability to modify the sentence to ask for two cups of coffee, or a cup of tea instead. Many of her students who had studied English in school for years still were entirely unable to have a basic conversation with a native speaker.

I don’t mean to suggest with these anecdotes that all Asian teachers or students fall into this stereotype. However, it does seem to be a major weakness of the rote system that it promotes quick results over true understanding.

Comments»

1. Josh Shahryar - January 8, 2011

Great piece, E. You nailed it. I was passingly thinking about writing something, but your response is better than any that I’ve seen because you’re both a teacher and an amazing pianist.

Can’t wait to read the second post!

2. Danya - January 8, 2011

I certainly agree with the majority of this post — rote memorization and repetition is no way to go about engaging student understanding OR enjoyment (not to mention what sounds like verbal and physical abuse). But I’m afraid I disagree with the message behind this quote:

“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work… Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun…One of the worst things you can do for your child’s self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t.”

I don’t believe that you have to be good at something in order to have fun at it. I am not particularly talented at several hobbies that I still enjoy, personal examples including swimming and drawing. In fact, I think that striving to excel at a skill/activity can be counter-productive, depending on how it’s approached. A child’s enjoyment could decrease if there’s a lot of external pressure (eg. from parents) to do well. Or, if the child is only doing the activity for external motivators such as praise, then the risk is that the positive results will only be temporary. A much better reason for striving to improve in an area is when someone actually wishes to get better for their own enjoyment and pride in their skills, not someone else’s.

contrapuntalplatypus - January 10, 2011

Really interesting and valid points! I also totally agree that “if the child is only doing the activity for external motivators such as praise, then the risk is that the positive results will only be temporary.” For me as a teacher praise is an important mechanism for feedback (the child learns, through praise, what they did right/wrong in a piece) but not the best motivator (they shouldn’t be practicing hard just to get praise.

“I don’t believe that you have to be good at something in order to have fun at it.” This may depend a great deal on the individual child’s temperament – I was the sort of child who hated getting anything wrong, especially when it was in a group setting where everyone could see I was “bad at it” (this is why I hated art class and gym so much). However, you’re right that others may not care so strongly about doing well in everything, as long as there are one or two subjects they excel in – and others may not be all that motivated to do well at all.

I would argue, though, that (1) most things become much more enjoyable when one has at least a basic level of proficiency (i.e. it’s not much fun playing tennis if you can never hit the ball) and (2) there are some areas in which poor achievement will permanently damage nearly every child’s self-esteem. Math, reading and writing, gym class (since it’s in a competitive group setting) and music lessons are the four that spring to mind. Self-labelling like “I’m unmusical”/”bad at sports”/”stupid” tend to stick for many, many years, even when a child’s lack of achievement is due not to poor ability or lack of practice but simply poor teaching…which is why I think our educational system needs a major overhaul. But that’s for another post🙂

3. Bhaskar Krishnamachari - January 9, 2011

Very nice! I completely agree with your point that it is important to focus on effort rather than innate talent. You may find this of interest: http://academicsfreedom.blogspot.com/2011/01/focus-on-effort-not-talent.html

Looking forward to part 2 of your response.

contrapuntalplatypus - January 10, 2011

Thank you so much for the feedback, and the mention in your blog post! I left a comment there. Excellent blog by the way – I really identify with your perspectives on education and what’s wrong with the current system.

4. ZML - January 10, 2011

Thank you so much for your analysis and differentiating points of view on the article. I too found some good “strategies” to raise an academically successful child in the piece. However, Ms. Chua’s overtly elitist tone throughout the article rubbed me the wrong way. Chinese and Western cultures are extremely different – with very different value systems as also made apparent in the article. Around the world, across all continents, rich and poor countries carry their own value systems, which ultimately judge success within their worlds. The same is done here in the “West” and in each microcosm within (i.e. big cities, suburbs, white-collar vs. blue families). I disagree with Ms. Chua’s blanket statement that the “Chinese” way to rear a child is best. In order for that to be true, we would ALL need to agree with the skills she considers to be the most valuable as just that. For most of us, our deepest beliefs are cemented in us through lessons learned as a child, whether wrong or right. Some of us change our views or understand them better as we grow into adulthood, educate ourselves and venture to learn from others and their cultures. All of it is subjective.

contrapuntalplatypus - January 10, 2011

“I disagree with Ms. Chua’s blanket statement that the “Chinese” way to rear a child is best. In order for that to be true, we would ALL need to agree with the skills she considers to be the most valuable as just that.”

Yes – you’ve really nailed it there. A major weakness of this article that I didn’t address in my own post is that Ms. Chua quite evidently believes her method is The Best Possible Way, but won’t come right out and say that. Thus, she ends her article with a diplomatic, bland statement claiming that both Western and Asian methods have their own strengths. However, she entitles her article “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”! Contradiction, anyone?
As you point out, it’s also pretty clear that Ms. Chua has taken certain values (excellence in performance, high grades, prestigious career paths) and made them into parenting absolutes, not realizing that other parents may not share her views on which values are essential – or even with the unspoken but underlying assumption that, though others may value different things, *her* values are ultimately the best! The truly sad part, of course, is that her methods will not even accomplish her stated goals with any long-term effectiveness.

5. World Spinner - January 10, 2011

Asian vs. Western Education: A Third Way? (My response to Amy Chua ……

Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

6. Foxy_librarian - January 10, 2011

What about the dark side of being raised in a pressure cooker – the Korean-American Virginia Tech shooter, and the MIT students who commit suicide by lighting themselves on fire?

http://www.asianweek.com/2009/08/14/suicide-rates-rising-among-asian-americans/

contrapuntalplatypus - January 10, 2011

Thanks for posting the link…extremely tragic and a definite warning sign. Traditionally “Asian” parents would do well to combine their values of excellence, hard work and high achievement with a large dose of empathy, caring, and respect for every individual no matter what their abilities and achievements.
As this commenter stated: “I see Chua and her ilk floating through their “winner” life, either unable to see or entirely indifferent to suffering around them.” That works, of course, as long as you’re a winner. But we’re all human and – when we inevitably find out we can’t be superhuman – someone who’s been taught that “losing” is unacceptable is bound to crack under the pressure.

7. gweipo - January 11, 2011

Thank you for your posting on the 3rd way – as a western parent in a Chinese system I try to take and use the best of both and find my own way.
My children are learning music within the Suzuki method, which is really nothing other than the “chinese mother” way, but then with a lot of love. Love of the child, of the learning, of the music of the instrument. Can there be any other way to learn?
But without practise you set your kids up for failure.
I also agree completely with your statements about technical or understanding gaps betting in the way as much as a lack of practise or discipline or what ever else you want to call it. And sometimes a kid is just not developmentally ready for something and you just have to give it some time and patience.

contrapuntalplatypus - January 12, 2011

Sounds like you’re doing a great job and combining the best of both worlds in your own parenting! Kudos🙂

As a teacher, I am ambivalent about the Suzuki method. I never teach group classes; I find this is very difficult to do with piano in particular. I took a violin group class (for adults) and somehow it seems to work more effectively (perhaps because violin is an orchestral instrument?)
Suzuki wouldn’t have been effective for me, since I was a visual learner and picked up on reading music quickly, but found imitation difficult. But some (especially young children) thrive in the system. My main worry about Suzuki is that it doesn’t encourage individual thought or problem-solving; rather, it gives measurable results according to a fixed group schedule. But, on the other hand, it can be very rewarding for a young child to play music in a group setting! The best guideline is if your children are enjoying it and progressing – and it sounds as though they are.🙂

8. Erin - January 11, 2011

Professor Chua hs written what amounts to a self-congratulary manual on child abuse. Withholding water and bathroom breaks is PHYSICAL ABUSE and you don’t need to be a psychologist to ‘know’ this. We as parents, teachers and humanitarians have a duty to call out this woman on her “garbage”.

Please join me in letting her employer know that we will not champion or normalize Professor Chua’s abusive and disordered ideas.

Yale Law Alumni Affairs
203-432-1690
alumni.law@yale.edu

Public Affairs/Media Contacts
203-432-8464
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9. Jen - January 11, 2011

I just want to say, I wish you had been my piano teacher. Both my piano and flute teachers (Asians) said the only reason I couldn’t reach my potential was because I didn’t practice enough. Combine that with my “Superior Asian Mom” upbringing, and you have an adult who now hates playing both piano/flute and is in her fourth year of therapy.

contrapuntalplatypus - January 11, 2011

Jen, thank you so much🙂 I also wish that you’d had a more creative, or at least open-minded teacher…it really is amazing, in a sad way, how much lasting emotional damage a negative or dismissive music teacher can do to a child. There’s something incredibly hurtful about being told “you have no musical talent”/”you’re not musical” or “you’re lazy and not practicing hard enough.” It’s no wonder that so many children quit music lessons the moment their parents will let them; who wants to pursue an activity that makes one feel worthless? (Conversely, a good music teacher can make all the difference in the world for a child who is feeling insecure. It’s amazing how much self-esteem it gives one to find out “Yes, I CAN learn this piece!)
I often refer to my own teaching strategy as a “Socratic” one. My fundamental, underlying assumption is that every child has within them all the musical potential they need to achieve any level of playing they desire (including concert performance – if that’s their goal). However, just because this potential is there doesn’t mean they know how to apply it (just as Socrates recognized that, though children have an intuitive knowledge of how math “works”, they can’t usually solve complex problems without a teacher’s guidance.) That’s my job.

You may enjoy some of my other posts about teaching, including Nix the Negativity, Parents, Two Theories of Learning and Time Signatures: A Socratic Experiment. I suspect you might also enjoy the book “A Soprano on Her Head” by Eloise Ristad – a very sane and enjoyable approach to music written for those who dreaded childhood lessons.🙂 I have a whole reading list, in fact, so please let me know if you’re interested! Do you play any instruments (or sing) today?

10. gweipo - January 12, 2011

I’m so glad I discovered your blog!

11. Asian parent - January 13, 2011

I would just like to clarify that Amy Chua’s model of raising children is NOT “The Asian Model” as is often referred to by this author. Amy Chua’s views on raising children are Amy Chua’s. They do not reflect the majority of Asian parents in any way and (as an Asian parent)I am offended to be lumped in with this method of child rearing.

contrapuntalplatypus - January 13, 2011

You raise a very good point here. I certainly wasn’t trying to imply that most Asian parents scream at their children, insult them, deny them water and bathroom breaks, and the other extreme methods of parenting that Amy Chua advocates here.

However, I strongly suspect that a substantially higher percentage of Asian parents push their children to do well in music and academics, insist a greater number of hours be spent on homework/practice (in contrast to “Western” parents who tend to allow more TV/games) and try to direct their children to careers such as medicine and law. This is true in my own experience and regarding the children I’ve taught. Also, the model of education used in Asian countries such as China and Japan generally relies on rote learning, repeated practice to develop skills and lots of homework, while Western schools (the better ones!) emphasize creativity and a well-rounded education. In my reply, this was all I meant by the “Asian” model.

12. alice - January 13, 2011

Your post makes a lot of sense. My kids did Suzuki violin and there is a lot of understanding about how kids develop. I remember my daughter’s teacher explaining to me that my daughter wasn’t playing in tune (and driving me crazy!) because developmentally she wasn’t actually at a point where she HEARD that she was playing out of tune. I remember being counseled to wait (as opposed to yelling and abusing her). I also let the two kids who didn’t find it fun quit after investing about five years with each one. I finally realized it was about them, not me.

13. AnnMaria - January 17, 2011

You sound like a great teacher.

I never made my girls practice any instrument if they didn’t feel like doing it. To me, music, painting, etc. is something you do for enjoyment and if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.

I DO tell my daughters, “Don’t worry, you’ll get it eventually, as long as you keep working at it.” I’m usually talking about math, though.

I don’t know anything about music. I know a fair bit about math, though, and I do know that memorizing a bunch of facts isn’t that important past the multiplication tables. I check my daughter’s homework regularly and we go over everything she doesn’t get correct, every single problem. Often, though, once I point out that, e.g, number 11 is wrong, she’ll look at it and in thirty seconds say, “Oh, I see what I did” and figure it out herself.

14. Beyond Carrots and Sticks: How to Motivate Children (Or Why it’s Not Necessary) « The Contrapuntal Platypus - January 17, 2011

[…] week I wrote Part 1 of my response to Amy Chua’s article on “Chinese parenting” featured in the Wall Street Journal. […]

15. Sarah G - January 18, 2011

Just as a note – authors of articles in newspapers almost *never* title their own pieces. Editors add the headlines, and sometimes they do that without reading the articles first. Chau is probably not responsible for her articles’s headline.

16. Accidental Montessori | Montecelery - January 22, 2011

[…] education and parenting too. My favorite response is from The Contrapuntal Platypus.  Part One, is a fascinating response to several particulars of the article. Part Two is a more general […]

17. Chris - May 17, 2011

You have managed to bring about an important exchange of ideas that I have been waiting for. My involvement in music and art have made me very observant of these styles of educating young people. Isn’t it amazing that the violin has attracted the interest of so many? And not the bassoon, the clarinet, the horn, the drums, the double bass, the viola, the harp, the trumpet, the trombone?

18. Richard D. Brooks - January 29, 2012

You spelled her name incorrectly. It’s Chua, not Chau. Considering this fact, your blog post makes a lot of generalizations about the way Asians educate their children. Being a person who has lived in Asia for more then seven years, rumors about child abuse and fatiguing school hours are most of the time exaggerated or false. Yes, teachers in Asia do have a lot of things they can learn from Western educational values, but they way they teach has been part of the Asian culture for years, and will most likely continue to be so. Students, parents, and teachers don’t have a problem with it. The only ones that do have a problem are ‘Westerners’ who have narrow-mindedly haven’t seen even half of the whole picture.

contrapuntalplatypus - January 29, 2012

Thank you for pointing this out! I hadn’t realized I had flipped the two letters in places.

Just to clarify, I was responding more to Ms. Chua’s portrayal of Asian education than to any stereotype I had in my mind – and this, considering she denied her daughter water and bathroom breaks during the marathon piano practice session she describes, might very well fall under the heading of “child abuse”.


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