Hope I’m not getting too off topic from pipe cleaner crafts and phonics but ach, this article raised a lot of questions for me about the way we parent and the children we raise. It’s not new, you may have read it, but becoming ever more relevant the more we hear about ‘China’ and how Western kids with their liberal work ethic are falling behind in ‘the important stuff’ like maths and science and aren’t going to be smart enough to compete etc etc. Anyway, take a look.
This article throws major side eye on the Asian parenting model. ‘Grade grubbing’ as it terms it, asking why, if grades are so important aren’t Chinese Americans running the USA? Nigerian, Cuban, Jamaican and Jewish Americans are also grade grubbers too apparently. So it seems that one issue for these kids who are taught to cram, rote memorise and keep their heads down is a lack of self esteem. They’ve been broken by their parents and now can’t say boo to a goose. The other issue is a perceived (not necessarily true) lack of critical or creative thinking.
This seems to be where the irreverent white boys sail past. Some of it’s racism or at least prejudice but that doesn’t explain all the mediocrity, certainly not ‘the earnest, striving, middle class servility’ according to author Wesley Yang. In the UK, intentional parenting has become something you don’t do anymore as it might offend someone. As soon as they start making your life a misery you send them to nursery so they can be someone else’s problem from 9-5. I remember my neighbour in London would shoo her boys onto the street every day after school and weekends so they couldn’t destroy her pretty house. Those boys went to prison and had children early and still live at home of course. On the other hand I think outside of this laissez faire style of parenting, other parents have become obsessed with grade grubbing so their kids can become bankers, lawyers, accountants etc. Is that really the best we can do? Does the world need more accountants?
Nigerians are good at studying. They are identified in a new book about cultural success stories in America as high achievers and producing a lot of number crunchers and lawyers, engineers and doctors but these generally don’t return to Nigeria except as money men, oil and gas executives to assist western corporations in polluting Nigeria’s waterways and ensuring the continuity of corrupt government. Good grades are great but as Yang says, scraps of paper won’t make you happy. Nor will money alone. We need to look a bit deeper. Your thoughts?