Sunday, 16 January 2011

What is best for our kids ??

Read a very interesting and somewhat disturbing article called "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" earlier today.
Being Chinese myself, I found this article rather quite disturbing .... mainly because I know that this is the way The Chinese (generalization) Mother thinks.

Strict schedule. Grueling practice. Lots of shouting. Sometimes unrealistically high expectations (according to me). No hobbies, no play, all work. Unless the child is the best at everything, it is not good enough. There is no such thing as individual interests, the child learns what he/she is supposed to do (according to the parent....who mainly base their choice on what other parents say children are supposed to learn ie. piano/violin). Art is frowned upon. Sports is not really important. Learning is NOT supposed to be fun, it is supposed to be hard ! No questions asked, just do as you are told.

This is so opposite to how I chose to bring up my own children. They are still young (according to me, but many Chinese kids at this age already practice 2-3 hours of piano/violin a day !). They are in a small Montessori nursery close to our home, where it is all about the children's individuality and their own pace of learning. There is no structure as such in their day, the children all choose their own "work" that they want to focus on at any particular point of time. If they choose to go for a walk in the garden, they can do that too !
I believe learning should be fun ! The Montessori system is based on the child building up his/her own confidence by learning new work by himself/herself, without too much adult interference. The success in itself will become the "reward" and the child will not rely on other people's praise to feel like he has done well. The work in front of himself/herself will prove that. It is about the child wanting to learn without having to be forced to. If a child is enjoying to learn, he/she will....and the knowledge that the child learns will be more in-depth than any forced learning would be.

I don't think a child needs to be a genius or prodigy to have a good life and/or in deed happy, quite the opposite.

For me, enjoying life is by far more important than learning to recite Mozart, especially at a young age. Unless of course you really love playing Mozart of course....

Ok, a child needs discipline (how much depends on how unruly the child is of course). Our job as a parent is to teach them what is right or wrong and also to steer them away from potential danger but other than that, I believe if you give a child a chance, they will be able to (sooner or later) find their own path, the path that they truly enjoy being part of. I, as a parent, can not and should not choose whats is right for my child's future. Yes, I can prepare him for what the future may hold but ultimately, the finale choice has to be a confident one made by the child.

What is your view on this ? Do you believe it is right to demand and expect of your child to be the best at everything and if they are not, relentlessly push them to achieve the goals that you have set out for them ?


Kat - Housewife Confidential said...

Very interesting subject. The model discussed in that book does sound terrifying and I wonder how I would cope under such pressure. Not my way at all!

tc said...

Just had a long conversation about this with my mum. Apparently, there is a saying in Chinese that says something like, "if there is no forcefulness, there will be no success", as well as a saying meaning something like "people are lazy by nature, so need to be forced to work hard". She also told me some horrifying stories about kids committing suicide in their homes because they couldn't deal with the pressures put on them....
I am certain this is good for some kids .... but I could never put my kids through such a regimented schedule/life.