The Chinese chick who didn’t let her kids have any fun has gotten tons of media attention. That is exactly what she wanted when she wrote her book. Only the extremes get attention in the MSM. It makes great TV. The facts are that Chinese students kick the shit out of American students on test scores. The apologist America is number 1 people like Freesmith claim that our scores are low because we have to include the inner city black kids in our scores. Bullshit.
The best Chinese students get higher scores than the best American kids. Our population is 310 million, while China’s is 1.3 billion. If you exclude their peasants and our inner city dregs, China has millions more smart kids graduating school every year.
There is no secret to their success. Even when I was in college in the mid-1980s, the Asian kids were in the library studying at 10:00 at night. I, along with my American friends, were at the Alpha Pi Fraternity party killing brain cells drinking grape and grain from a tub in the middle of the room.
Chinese, Indian, and other Asian students work harder than American students, so they get better marks. Simple. Life comes down to hard work. The Chinese are driven to be the best. Americans have gotten satisfied, fat, and lazy. We are an empire in decline. The Chinese are an empire on the rise. They may be derailed by demographics, peak oil, or other environmental reasons, but it won’t be because they didn’t work harder than Americans.
Will China’s work ethic whip us?
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
By Jay Ambrose
An old acquaintance of mine lived near the University of Denver, regularly rented out a room to students at the school, once welcomed a young Chinese man as her scholarly guest and was stunned by his work ethic.
He studied, studied, studied, refusing to turn his lights off more than a few hours a night because he could not study in the dark. He spoke freely of the grades he made — straight A’s — as well as his attitude toward American students: contempt.
He found them lazy leisure lovers who abused the privilege of higher education, if I correctly recall a summation that came back to me when reading a recent piece in The Wall Street Journal.
It was by Amy Chua, a Yale law professor who pointed to rules for her own two daughters in explaining why it is that Chinese families so often include “math whizzes” and “music prodigies.”
She allows no sleepovers, TV, computer games or personal choice of extracurricular activities. On the piano and violin, she requires three hours practice a day. On grades, she requires A’s and that the girls beat everyone else in performance in every class but gym and drama.
Western parents don’t operate that way, she said, noting that in surveys they worried that emphasizing academic success is too stressful on their children. To Chinese parents, she said, anything but the best is not enough.
I read all of this and could not escape the fleeting thought that, sure enough, China wins, a view that seemed confirmed by charts in a nearby story.
They showed results of International Student Assessment tests for 15-year-olds. Shanghai, China comes in first in reading, the United States 17th. In science, Shanghai is first again, the United States 23rd. Then we get to math. Shanghai is still number one, while the United States rounds the bend slowly, huffing puffing, looking sickly, coming in at 31st.
My worries need qualification, but first let me worry some more. Too many American schools consider competition a bad thing. It’s not. It motivates. Unearned self-esteem is identified as the gateway to bliss. It’s not. It is the gateway to mediocrity.
Practice matters. In “The Outliers,” the author Malcolm Gladwell says several hours of practice a day, beginning very young and adding up to 10,000 hours by the teen years, is needed to shine in almost any field. Our youngsters too often skip the practice but get more hours than that having their brain cells eviscerated by television shows, such as a new one about teenagers on MTV in which there seem to be four themes: sex, drugs, sex and drugs.
I believe in hard work and in mothers who tell you what mine did when I was evading Saturday chores, namely, “The world doesn’t owe you a living.” I believe in preachments about self-reliance, self-discipline and the importance of school, and I believe in reading to children constantly and then having them read to themselves constantly when they are able to.
But while regimentation may be the Chinese way, it is not ours, and I also endorse the ideas of Anthony Esolen, which I found on the Internet.
He is a professor of English at Providence College and has written about ways to destroy the imagination of children, such as by not getting them outdoors often enough, of insisting that all their play be supervised, of not giving them a sense of the transcendent.
Creativity flows from the imagination and imagination flows from using it.
My guess is that we are more creative than the Chinese, although we may be slipping.
I know we play by the rules more than they do, and I believe that opportunistic carelessness on their part will hurt them as time goes on.
I don’t really suppose that winning and losing per se is what life is all about, anyway, although we’ll surely regret it if we turn lazy and stupid and quit striving for excellence.
The price will be very high.
Jay Ambrose is former Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.