Do mathematicians have “tiger mothers”? or: that’s funny, Norbert, you don’t look Chinese!

All the world — or at least all the world of parents of young kids — or at least all the world of educated parents of young kids who fret about their kids’ psychic and material well-being — is abuzz about Amy Chua’s article “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” which starts out:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.

What follows is a cheerful recounting of Chua’s stern regimen with her daughters.  Here she is with 7-year-old Lulu, who was having trouble with a piano piece:

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. When Lulu said, “I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?” 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.

And her thoughts on grades:

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

As it happens, I was just reading Reuben Hersh and Vera John-Steiner’s enjoyable new book Loving and Hating Mathematics, so of course I was reminded of Norbert Wiener’s childhood recollections of being trained in mathematics by his father:

He would begin the discussion in an easy, conversational tone.  This lasted exactly until I made the first mathematical mistake.  Then the gentle and loving father was replaced by the avenger of blood.  The first warning he gave of my unconscious delinquency was a very sharp and aspirated “What?”…. My lessons ended in a family scene.  Father was raging.  I was weeping and my mother did her best to defend me, although hers was a losing battle.

And afterwards:

Wiener’s student Norman Levinson wrote of his teacher, “Even forty years later when he became depressed and would reminisce about this period, his eyes would fill with tears as he described his feelings of humiliation as he recited his lessons before his exacting father.  Fortunately he also saw his father as a very lovable man and he was aware of how much like his father he himself was.”

Ann Hulbert in today’s Slate has more on Chua as the latter-day Leo Wiener.

I tend to think that getting strong in mathematics requires devoting a lot of time to it.  Hours a day on average, just like piano.  I certainly did that — but not because my parents forced or threatened or tantrummed me into it.  Chua leads off by suggesting that her method tends to produce “math whizzes.”  Is it true?  It goes against all my experience of how mathematics works.  But readers, I am curious — did any of you learn math like this?  Feel free to respond anonymously — I recognize this survey requires more self-revelation than most.

(Also, never fear, we’re not considering giving CJ and AB this treatment.  I’ve lived in an apartment with thin walls where I had to listen to a kid practice piano four hours a day, and friends, nothing would make me go back to that.)

38 thoughts on “Do mathematicians have “tiger mothers”? or: that’s funny, Norbert, you don’t look Chinese!

  1. Deane says:

    Jordan, let me answer this obliquely. My parents (my father was a mathematician) definitely rejected the Tiger Mother approach described by Chua and took great pride in the fact that I became a successful mathematician, whereas none of the children of their peers (including other Chinese mathematicians) did, despite the Tiger-Mother-like efforts of the parents. I can’t help but also add that for many years, I knew only two American-born Chinese academic mathematicians, Ben Chow and me. And the only other American-born Asian mathematician I knew was Eriko Hironaka (at least I think she was born in the US). By now there are more, but far fewer than you would expect, given how much emphasis and value Asian-American families place on academics. So, no, I don’t believe Chua’s approach is conducive to producing research mathematicians.

  2. JSE says:

    That’s oblique? I wonder what it’s like when you’re blunt!

    Just to keep this on the right track — the question is definitely about “tiger parent” style in general, not Chinese or Asian-American families in particular.

  3. Richard Kent says:

    Not me. It seems to me that you’d end up with a severe aversion to failure, which doesn’t seem to be good preparation for being a mathematician. :)

  4. Michelle says:

    My mom swears that she used to come into my room at night and whisper “You love math and science. You love math and science.” There were definitely high academic expectations for me, but nothing even approaching “tiger mother” status, and nothing specific to mathematics.

    Of course, I am nowhere near the mathematician Norbert Wiener was. Who knows what might have been with just a few more knock-down-drag-out fights at my house?

  5. Andrei says:

    My parents were exactly the opposite of “Tigers,” in fact I had long conversations with my mom in recent years about the fact that we are hovering too much over S and S. According to her my dad used to cunningly place some math problem in front of me, and tease me that I couldn’t get it, but would never pressure me into solving it.

    And to tell you their attitude towards B’s in school suffice it to say that I was one of only two kids in my class to not get first prize in first grade; and I (basically) failed my entrance exam to high-school and ended up in the lower-ranked section of the same high-school.

    But what seems to have made a huge difference was a) the fact that my parents had an unwavering trust that I would end up well (which was supported by them seeing the passion I was putting into the stuff I was enthusiastic about, e.g. math and computers); and b) the fact that Romania was much less driven by grades: being good at something — math for me — was enough to get you a good life. There was nothing like the pressure for a high GPA, good grades in school, etc. At the end of high-school you had an exam in the subject you wanted to study in the University, and if you did good you got accepted in that section of the University and that was that. So you could be a bum all through high-school, study your math, do well on the entrance exam to the U (math only), and become a successful math student.

    I am of course idealizing my situation; now I realize that my parents in fact did put in a lot of effort (they even hired a private math teacher when they felt I was not studying my integrals long enough to get a good grade in the admission exam) but they managed to do it subtly, so I never felt any pressure. I wish I knew how to do the same…

  6. No, I certainly didn’t learn math (or anything else for that matter) like this when I was growing up. By modern standards, much less tiger-parent standards, I was pretty much left to my own devices. I did learn a few math things from my parents (things like adding fractions) ahead of when they were taught in school, but that was just because I asked. Certainly, my parents did encourage intellectual exploration generally when I showed some interest, but not in the manner described in that article. (Like Andrei, I suspect they also encouraged me in ways that were too subtle for me to notice at the time, but that’s still the opposite of tiger-parenting.)

  7. Frank says:

    This doesn’t answer your question, but

    “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.”

    Wow, that’s totally false.

  8. Xamuel says:

    Nope. Tiger Parents = kids who can crunch numbers really well… like, maybe even as much as 1/100,000,000th as well as a computer!!!

    My route to math is a bit strange. I was actually childishly interested in psychic powers, of all things. And there’s this trope (at least in nerdy video games) that psychics should be really brainy. So I went and found the “brainiest” thing in the library, which of course was Euclid’s Elements. The psychic phase was short-lived but after flipping through Elements, my true fate was set. I taught myself calculus shortly after that, entirely on my own…

  9. anony says:

    There is definitely the stereotype that Asians have talents in mathematics (at least before grad school). But is there the stereotype that Asians are good in music?….
    Also, I find the Asian mother stereotype very close to that of the Jewish mother stereotype…

  10. Terence Tao says:

    I have Chinese parents but my upbringing had essentially none of the elements described in the article, being much more Australian in nature. It seems to me that this sort of philosophy, when it works, tends to produce children who have good academic performance up to the undergraduate level but do not necessarily have the right skill set for doing well the graduate level and beyond.

  11. Terence Tao says:

    (missing an “at” between “doing well” and “the graduate level”).

  12. Nigel says:

    What’s described in Chua’s article strikes me as psychological torture and child abuse.

  13. JSE says:

    If your parents had made you comment on blogs four hours a day you would never have made such a mistake!

  14. Em says:

    I just read the WSJ article. I think its really encouraging that everyone who is commenting has been spared the Tiger Mother.

    It seems hard to argue with her assertion that her approach is effective in producing successful kids. However, every approach has its cost, and Chua’s seems really high. I can’t imagine turning my home into a “war zone” over my kid’s inability to learn a piece of music.

  15. Deane says:

    Tiger parenting, as far as I can tell, is very effective for producing children who grow up to hardworking and efficient (i.e., very good at time management). This leads to very successful careers in many professions. But I am unconvinced that it is an effective path to becoming a scientist or mathematician. It does seem to succeed in training classical musicians, where practice and technique are critical. But perhaps less so for other types of artists.

    My remarks are “oblique” in the sense that they don’t provide any hard evidence one way or another and are just my rather subjective impressions.

  16. Terence Tao says:

    Empirical evidence gathered from random internet discussion sites suggests otherwise. :-)

  17. Dirty Davey says:

    It seems to me that unless the parent is actually a mathematician, a child who is truly mathematically inclined will surpass the parent’s ability/understanding fairly early in the game.

  18. “If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—”

    To me, it is tempting to deduce from that excerpt that the whole thing is a joke…

  19. Dan says:

    Neither of my parents really cared that much, certainly they never pushed me hard in high school. In grade school my mom helped me with my science project, which consisted of a daffodil in a vase full of food coloring. Everybody else in my family is artistic and so I think they just affectionately considered/consider me as a weirdo.

  20. Eric Hsu says:

    I had Chinese parents. They were not Tiger parents. They never demanded good grades, they demanded doing my best. (Of course they knew I wasn’t doing my best when I got bad grades.) Despite not being belittled and drilled and abused, I managed to get a PhD in math at Berkeley, and a professorship in a math department.

    High level math may not be the right field to see if Tiger Momming works – my stereotype is that Tiger Moms want their kids to be rich doctors, lawyers or business owners.

    Someone elsewhere claims that Asian-American women have a very high suicide rate. I would find that shocking and would certainly wonder about its connection to such joyless parenting.

    I get the sense that Tiger Mom is really kind of a shtick based on truth… a lot of my Chinese-American friends had elements of this upbringing… Let’s just say that the Chinese range of acceptable browbeating and dedication to visible success skews heavily towards Tiger Mom compared to typical American families.

  21. SHB says:

    Emmanuel, I definitely think there is a strong element of satire in her article. For example, the line quoted previously:

    “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.”

    seems satirical to me. But the next sentence

    “To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.”

    suggests Chua does believe that getting good at something is more important than enjoying it.

    I’ve been having a back-and-forth with a friend of mine about this article. He has similar parents, as do I (though mine seem less strict than Chua’s model). But he believes much more strongly in this tiger parenting philosophy than I do. I personally think that Chua has extrapolated her own experiences (both as a child of tiger parents and a tiger parent herself), combined them with stereotypes (she doesn’t cite any data, which could be used to support some of her statements), and wrote a book, which she is now trying to sell by writing/excerpting a controversial article. All of which convinces me that she has very little authority when it comes to parenting philosophy.

    About my own experiences: my parents were strict, especially when it came to grades. This stopped some time in middle-school, though, where I took things upon myself. I developed a strong love of learning at that point (anything, math, science, literature, european history, painting, whatever), which I think is what has helped me significantly during and after grad school. Cultivating this love of learning seems to be glaringly omitted from Chua’s philosophy, at least as demonstrated in her article.

    I would also like to point out that her absolute conviction that calling your kid “fatty” is perfectly fine for a child’s self-esteem says worlds about her.

  22. Yemon Choi says:

    I’m not sure I have anything to add at the moment regarding the wider subject of JSE’s post; but on the particular question of how sincere Chua was being in her piece (see Emmanuel Kowalski’s remarks above), it’s worth noting that apparently her book goes on to tell of her retreat (to some extent) from that model. (This from an email she reportedly sent in response to someone who has a relevant and tragic story to tell.)

    So there are indications that Chua, or the WSJ, or both, were engaged in generating traffic/publicity by deliberately provocative framing. I believe this is what the young folk nowadays call “trolling”…

  23. Frank says:

    This seems interesting, if highly suspect:

    The author claims to have been quoted out of context, without her input. Purely incidentally, her book has shot to #4 on the Amazon bestseller list.

  24. Richard Séguin says:

    Becoming a good musician requires endless practice and tedious technical exercises, but that is not enough. It may be possible to force someone to eventually develop excellent technique, but technique is useless if the musician does not have what we loosely call “feeling” for the music they are trying to play, and that involves both a self and social sense. I’m sure some readers here have heard performers with dazzling technique who nevertheless leave them unsatisfied and cold. The feeling for the music can only come from within and can’t be taught under terror. I might also point out the peculiar assertion of Chua that only the violin and the piano are acceptable instruments. Aside from making a Chinese orchestra or string quartet literally impossible, this viewpoint forces two narrow musical voices on the kids. You can not play an instrument in a truly musical way if you do not find some personal resonance with the voice of the instrument. Notice also that Chua does not explain how her child raising techniques can produce a child who can actually compose music. I don’t think she can either.

    I was going to launch into an easy paragraph drawing analogies to mathematics, but soon found that it was not that simple, and started thinking also about writers, physicists, artists, and my own personal family life and experiences with mathematics. It’s getting late, that just isn’t going to be put together tonight, and if I ever get it done it will be lost in blog-time. Terry adroitly dodged a lot of messy but interesting material by merely asserting that by the time students with Chua’s kids backgrounds arrive at graduate school they lack necessary skill sets.

  25. Richard Séguin says:

    There is an organized discussion of Chua’s “extreme parenting” this morning on the NYT website, with eight commentators together with reader comments:

    disclaimer: I haven’t had time to personally read it all.

  26. i’m a mathematician.

    i don’t recall my parents ever pushing academics or mathematics. but that is likely because both came easily to me, and it wasn’t until college that i ever was challenged in math. i spent much of my childhood daydreaming and unencumbered.

    there is one thing that my father pushed me on.

    i never learned how to hold a pencil correctly in school. (i still don’t.) as a consequence, my handwriting was illegible. when i was 10 (?), my father made me practice handwriting every day after dinner for what seemed like hours. i can’t recall much of it now — how long it lasted or how old i really was. but i remember hating every minute of handwriting practice, and i remember my father not letting me stop until my writing was clear. (he was trained as an engineer and fond of drafting.)

    i am very fortunate: i had the freedom to think about mathematics unencumbered with structure, and i had the discipline of drafting forced upon me. that’s a good formula.

  27. Richard Séguin says:

    I share some background with Robert. My father was a civil engineer and surveyor, and took pride in his maps. He was somewhat of a perfectionist in most things he did, and I think that that his kids inherited that trait to various degrees. My parents also did not have particularly high academic expectations for the kids, although they did expect very good (but not perfect) grades from us in school. If one or more of us had taken over the surveying business, they would have been pleased. We did not turn out as expected. My brother found himself on the physics tract and I found myself on the mathematics tract, probably baffling my parents who never encouraged us in those directions.

    We spent our time in grades K through 9 at a tiny “laboratory school” connected to the local college. I had a rather lazy memory, so when it came to multiplication tables, I often thought to myself, for example, 9 x 8 = 8^2 + 8 = 64 + 8 = 72. I didn’t even realize that I was using algebra at that point. I soon extended that technique to multiplying larger numbers in my head. I was very good in science classes, and sometimes was excused from class to do my own thing. At one point, I gave a lecture to my science class attempting to explain a certain formula from electrical engineering. I had rapt attention and I think everyone probably thought that it was quite bizarre. I wish I had a video. I wound up in a statewide science competition, where I presented some results about bacteria (I think math at science competitions was not common at the time). Anyway, despite tripping over the microphone cable walking onto the stage to give my presentation, I still managed first place. I still had no particular mathematics orientation before high school.

    I generally hated public high school. It was boring, there were no calculus courses, there were no advanced classes of any sort, we were not allowed to take classes at the local college, and there certainly was no math club. Math classes were way too easy for me, and the only really fun class was a creative writing class. My geometry teacher, however, was impressed with my proofs and encouraged me to apply for NSF summer programs for high school students at universities. So, I did well on the problems sets we had to submit for admission, and I got one summer at Notre Dame and another at Berkeley studying mathematics. Berkeley was especially fun, and since it was 1968, we learned a lot more than just mathematics. Sometime during high school I began compulsively factoring integers in my head at idol times. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered others have also had periods like that. I was not as successful as I had hoped when applying for college. Read about my very unusual interview for Harvard:

    Anyway, one characteristic of my academic life was lack of guidance and mentoring. I think this was at least as much my fault as the fault of others. Although I am vehemently opposed to Chua’s child rearing techniques, some mentoring and guidance is necessary. I got little from my parents and from my high school, and in college did little to seek it out since no one ever suggested that I do that. I got along really well with a particular mathematics professor, but he left after a year. By the time I got into grad school, I was actually starting to specialize way too quickly, and in the deadliest of ways: no one at that grad school did research in that area X. And my “advisor” was not pleased. Moreover, academic jobs were extremely scarce at that time, and everyone was encouraged to take courses in computer science and statistics “just in case.” I also began getting sinus infections. I did not know at that time what that meant (see below). It was a depressing time for me, and after a few years dropped out and went into computer programming. Perhaps the right kind of encouragement and interest from my parents, or the right kind of mentoring at the university level, would have made a large difference.


    Mathematics was not dead to me though. I acquired new interests, but I also continued for a while working on mathematics. Then the sinus infections became chronic, and eventually manifestations of an undiagnosed antibody deficiency became more extreme and bizarre to the point where I could barely manage my job and take care of my dog let along do anything else. The fatigue was so great I could no longer actually read my old personal mathematics notes. After many years (typical for this diagnosis) I finally got the right treatment, my health gradually returned, and I found myself once again working on mathematics. It never leaves you. I started working on what has become a very large, still unfinished, document. The internet allowed me to find others interested in area X. And then an unexpected thing happened. At the age of 58 I discovered that one of the biggest names in area X had lived for several years at a retirement center two blocks from my office and I wasn’t even aware of it. We’ve now had lunch several times. Then, probably thanks to vaccine deniers and my antibody deficiency, I spent four frightening days in the hospital over a year ago with what they eventually determined to be measles. (This is a fascinating story too long to go into here.) I already had measles in 1960, so this was a second time. You do not want to experience this virus as an adult. I lost some mental focus after that, and I also abruptly retired. Still, right now I’m still thinking about some mathematical questions that I have attacked in the past and gotten nowhere with, and I’m getting more focused once again. It never leaves you.

  28. Aar says:

    As a professional engineer, well liked and successful – I was rather interested to learn that the executives tend to avoid hiring engineers from china. They’ve let to many go because they just lock themselves in their offices And grind out reports without contributing in any brainstorming or creative interchanges when the more challenging projects come. This after my mediocre preformance in undergrad.

    Heres how to really understand the Chinese: posturing. This is all about face and chau is doing little more than bragging (to anyone who has the same insanely materialistic values as she does). Also ask anybody who’s been to china: the Chinese aren’t really that harder working in general, but they’re way better at optics. By that I mean they’re better at hiding it when they slack off.

  29. Yemon Choi says:

    Given that Chau isn’t from the mainland, and probably has had an atypical upbringing & social status from the engineers whose deficiencies you relate, I am not sure you can extrapolate your experience to a diagnosis of why she’s written the things she has.

  30. Yemon Choi says:

    (For some reason I wrote “atypical” when I meant “different”, but I hope the underlying point remains clear.)

  31. cl says:

    The Asian American community is also abuzz about Chua’s article. Partly because of her use of the word “Chinese” in describing her particular parenting style and promoting the stereotype of the model minority.

  32. just musing says:

    I can give a short account of a Chinese friend and lab mate at MIT. He was a very good theoretical physicist (doing a lot of math) and was one of the most reasonable and easy going fellows I knew. his motivation cam from within, and his father was a peasant and he hadn’t seen him in three years.

  33. Kevin Lin says:

    Have you read this article from the AMS notices about Asian-Americans being an “invisible minority” in mathematics?

  34. Andre M. Smith says:

    Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.

    Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn’t conduct this at age 50! And he isn’t the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.

    And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!

    For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it’s practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.

    Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.

    Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  35. Andre M. Smith says:

    I believe some useful purpose will be served by offering here, what the lawyers might like to call, but will seldom welcome, a healthy second opinion; a collective opinion that will demonstrate in abbreviated form the absolute folly of any attempt to teach music to children in the manner advocated by Amy Chua and her supporters.

    These titles, with a few accompanying comments, should be read only as an introduction to a vast, interesting subject. There is one observation one can make about them all, and many more on this same subject, if needed to prove the point: Their attempt at an inherent humane understanding. I shall let the individual writers speak for themselves. To wit:

    C. C. Liu [fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies, The University of Hong Kong]: A Critical History of New Music in China, Columbia University Press, 2010.
    By the end of the nineteenth century, Chinese culture had fallen into a stasis, and intellectuals began to go abroad for new ideas. What emerged was an exciting musical genre that C. C. Liu terms “new music. With no direct ties to traditional Chinese music, “new music” reflects the compositional techniques and musical idioms of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European styles. Liu traces the genesis and development of “new music” throughout the twentieth century, deftly examining the social and political forces that shaped “new music” and its uses by political activists and the government.

    Brahmstedt’s China travels bring recognition: TTU [Tennessee Technical University] trumpet professor “Outstanding foreigner.”

    Music Education in China: A look at primary school music education in China reveals numerous recent developments in general music, band and string programs, and private lessons. Music Educators Journal May 1997 83:28-52, doi:10.2307/3399021. Full Text (PDF)

    Howard Brahmstedt and Patricia Brahmstedt: Music education in China. Music Educators Journal 83(6):28-30, 52. May 1997.

    Joseph Kahn and Daniel J. Wakin: Classical music looks toward China with hope. The New York Time, 3 April 2007.

    Ho Wai-Ching: A comparative study of music education in Shanghai and Taipei: Westernization and nationalization. A Journal of Comparative and International Education 34:2, 2004.

    Yuri Ishii and Mari Shiobara: Teachers’ role in the transition and transmission of culture. Journal of Education for Teaching 34(4):245-9, November 2008.
    There are some common trends, which indicate that certain values are now shared among music education policies of many Asian countries. These are an emphasis on the purpose of education as the development of children’s total human quality rather than mere transmission of skills and knowledge by rote learning, the encouragement of a learner-centered approach, the introduction of authentic assessment, the integration of existing subjects, and the assertion of cultural specificity.

    Chee-Hoo Lim: An historical perspective on the Chinese Americans in American music education. Research in Music Education May 2009 vol. 27 no. 2 27-37.

    Howard Brahmstedt: Trumpet playing in China. P. 29. International Trumpet Guild Journal, February 1993.

    Richard Curt Kraus: Pianos and politics in China. Middle-class ambitions and the struggle over Western music. Oxford University Press. New York, 1989.

    From Shanghai Conservatory to Temple University
    Yiyue Zhang holds both Bachelors and Masters in Music Education from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Music Education at Temple University. Ms. Zhang is from a family of music. She first learned Chinese classic dance from her father at the age of 3. She then started to learn accordion at the age of 5 and piano at the age of 6. During the close to 20 years of piano training and education, she has also been learning saxophone, cello, vocal music and percussion instrument of Chinese ethnic nationalities. In addition to piano solo, Ms. Zhang has rich experiences as a piano accompanist for vocal and chorus performances. When she served as the accompanist for the female choir of Shanghai Conservatory in 2006, they participated in the Fourth World Chorus Competition and won the gold medal for female choir, silver medal for contemporary music and another silver medal for theological music. Before came the United States, Ms. Zhang taught general music at Shanghai Hongqiao Middle School and Shanghai North Fujian Rd. Primary School as her internship in 2006. From 2006 to 2008, she taught piano and music class in Shanghai Tong-de-meng Kindergarten while held Chinese Teacher Qualification Certificate. Ms. Zhang is currently the piano accompanist of Chinese Musical Voices located at Cherry Hill, NJ as well as the assistant conductor of Guanghua Chorus located at Blue Bell, PA. While holding Early Childhood Music Master Certification (Level 1) from The Gordon Institute for Music Learning, she is also actively engaged in the educational and cultural activities with the networks of local Chinese schools in the Philadelphia area.

    Li Ying-ling: Essential study on the function of children’s music education.
    Music education is beneficial in the comprehensive development of children’s healthy personality, helpful to enlighten the children’s creative thinking, helpful to educate the regulation senses of children, helpful to develop the children’s language and good emotion. It has certain social effect and realistic meaning for the growth of children. Every teacher should pay attention to the functional character of children music education, consciously meet the demands for music education of the children nowadays, strengthen the socialization function of music education, promote socialization proceeding of children. Music Department of Kunming University. Journal of Kunming University 2:2009.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  36. Andre M. Smith says:

    Further on Chua as a Chinese surname . . .

    My wife, a gyn surgeon, hails from a family of intellectuals and professionals in Shanghai. She has four sisters and three brothers. Among those eight are six of their children between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-six. Chua as a Chinese surname is unknown to them all.

    Bilingual speakers at the consulates in New York for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia all have told me the word chùa – with a grave – (= temple) is Vietnamese. A trilingual speaker at the City Campus Mahayana Temple at 133 Canal St in Manhattan has told me that the word chùa is common in Buddhist use but is not Chinese. In the illustration of the attachment hereto, the word for “temple” emblazoned is transliterated into pinyin as si or shu. But, again, I have it on the authority of my Chinese family that “chua” – at least as it’s pronounced in the nations subjoined to China and in English – is definitely not a Chinese word or name.

    Perhaps Chinese speakers of languages other than Wu or Mandarin, from elsewhere on the Mainland, may have an informed knowledge on this point of nomenclature countering what I’ve sent to you here.

    The faces of both father Leon Chua and daughter Amy Chua are textured similarly to reflect a family origin, at least within the previous handful of Chua generations as likely more south than Mainland China; although within fluid populations, this is speculative. Honestly, though, that part of the world is such a mixed bag of all its ingredients that . . .

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  37. Andre M. Smith says:

    Amy Chua has never lived in China. Her understanding of its culture, that is, the culture as it’s truly lived by the indigenous people in their dailyness, then must be that of the tourist. Here perhaps is one view of a China she may or may not have seen. [Each of the four pictures can be enlarged for clearer viewings.] In what likely is Nanning, the capitol of Guang Xi region, the boy was caught stealing money to pursue his addiction in Internet gaming. (This is a common problem in China, especially among adolescent boys. As punishment his father has publicly stripped off the boy’s clothes, lathered him with some unstated brown caking (which I shall discretely hope is mere mud), bound his hands behind his back, and then pulled him on his back and buttocks by one foot for disgrace through a very-public area of the city.

    On contemporary corporal punishment in China:

    A third of them [child respondents] said corporal punishment negatively affected their personalities, causing them to become introverted and depressed.

    Legal experts cited by the paper said China should ban corporal punishment in its marriage laws to protect children from physical and psychological harm and to protect the rights of minors.

    They blamed the common occurrence of corporal punishment in China on the traditional belief that children were a part of their parents, not individuals.

    The routine beatings allegedly given to child gymnasts in China are no different to the corporal punishment that was once part of daily life in English public schools, according to the head of the Olympic movement.

    Mr Rogge said he believed that if physical punishment is being used to train young athletes in China, then it is likely to be confined to sports such as gymnastics and swimming, where the age of competitors is much younger than in the other Olympic sports. What is not known is how widespread the practice is.

    “It was a pretty disturbing experience. I was really shocked by some of what was going on. I know it is gymnastics and that sport has to start its athletes young, but I have to say I was really shocked. I think it’s a brutal programme. They said this is what they needed to do to make them hard.

    “I do think those kids are being abused. The relationship between coach and child and parent and child is very different here. But I think it goes beyond the pale. It goes beyond what is normal behaviour. It was really chilling.”

    Anyone who thinks the Chinese are a race of genteel pacifists who, collectively, design their lives to awaken every morning wiser than they went to bed the night before is a candidate for some serious awakening of his own. As a whole person Amy Chua is a type; she is not an aberration.

    Now, for one question I have not seen asked anywhere. . . Does Professor Chua play a music instrument? If so, let’s hear some of it. If not, from what sources has she gathered her standards about music technique and style and how they might be taught to a very young child who has shown no particular affinity for any instrument? Can she play any music from what she has demanded from either of her two daughters? Can she play simultaneously triptlets in the left hand and duolets in the right? Can she perform, even modestly,, the composition she has demanded her post-toddler daughter play with assurance?

    There can be no doubt that Professor Chua likes violence, so long as it’s not directed at her, the core definition of a bully. She has said recently that there are parts of the world in which some of her parenting techniques might be considered child abuse. I do wish she could be persuaded to name (1) which some of those parts of the world are, (2) just which parenting techniques she is referring to, and (3) why she believes those same techinques should not be defined as child abuse in her home state of Connecticut.

    How did such a reprehensible woman obtain a position so high up on the feeding chain with so little prior experience in law education?

    HUSBAND, faculty of Yale Law School since 1990 : Jed Rubenfeld
    WIFE, faculty of Yale Law School since 2001 : Amy Chua

    As the lawyers may put it, Let the evidence speak for itself. The Tiger Mom has made it on her own claws.

    One last question: Who prevents Professor Chua from sitting on a toilet or eating a meal when, at any given moment, she is vexed beyond her capacity to complete an academic assignment or any other professional obligation within the proper time allocated for its completion?

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  38. Andre M. Smith says:

    Professor Chua is a woefully ill-informed parent, one ignorant of just what is happening in some parts of education in America. Fully confident in her presumed success as a writer with an editorial staff at Penguin shadow boxing for her and unapologetically wearing her signature plastic smile for public appearances, the Lawyer Chua is trying to persuade and convince; on both counts controversially, but with enough negative reactions to cause her subsequently to attempt a dilution of the intensity in her initial self-congratulatory tirade by latterly asserting that her writing is merely one person’s experiences of some trying times in motherhood. To gain working points among the Old-Boy network, the prime lubricant of Yale, Professor Chua initially claimed that she is a Tiger Mom as Chinese maternal type; Fierce! When that showpiece veneer didn’t sit well with mothers who are the real thing, i.e., mothers from China, this faux cat altered the validity of her claim to violence by stating that she is a Tiger Mom because she was born in 1962, a Year of the Tiger. That a tenured Professor of Yale can – must? – openly justify her self-classification with superstitious underpinning should provide anyone what is needed to draw a conclusion about the level of intellect afoot in Yale Law School. Professor? Indeed!

    Any of Chua’s public statements of the purposes of her work evolve to fit the tenor of the evolving criticisms directed at it. It has passed, in her own words, from (1) practical handbook for parenting to (2) tongue-in-cheek (whatever that’s supposed to mean), to (3) memoir, (4) satire, (5) parody, (6) “a coming of age book for parents” (7) “the book is about a journey”; and who knows what else as she makes the rounds of the book circuit trying to snare yet more unsuspecting purchasers into her net. That she can, without blushing, class a single work with such a range causes me to wonder what kind of grade she got at Harvard for her command of the English language. She’s Trollope (the author), Pope (the author), The Wicked Witch in Hansel und Gretel and Gullible’s Travels all penned together into one oversized Pamper. Anyone who can’t read the monetary cynicism driving the kaleidoscope of this whole Tiger Mom scam and its spurious, unproven claimed insights into parenting, with variant latter-day reflections by the author herself, deserves to have paid full retail price for this book.

    “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.”
    Stamp collecting, fishing, lazing about on a summer day, science club, Brownie Scouting, baseball, birthday parties, church annual picnic, kite flying, visiting relatives, kissing, jumping rope, student council, insect classification . . . Away with this woman! “Fun” must be one of the more overused, misunderstood words in the American lexicon. Chinese parent = The Model Minority? In China?

    “I’m happy to be the one hated.”

    “If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second.

    That’s it perfectly stated in Tigerese: Either / Or; not both. Amy Chua is a chameleonic con artist. PT. Barnum certainly was right, one “. . . born every minute!”

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: