Tiger Mom: Some cultural groups are superior

(75 Posts)
OsmiumPhazer Mon 06-Jan-14 21:50:15

I was talking to a Nigerian colleague today who agreed with many of the hypothesis put forward by the ‘controversial’ Amy Chua. I am certain many of you read Amy’s Book ‘Battle cry of a tiger mother’ and were either shocked or inspired by her childrearing methods.
According to Amy In 2013, though making up less than 1 percent of America’s black population, Nigerian Americans—many from modest backgrounds—made up 20 to 25 percent of the black students at Harvard Business School and are starkly overrepresented in America’s top investment banks and law firms. Is there any truth in what she says, even though I am certain many of you do not know any Mormons apart from the Osmond’ and Miit Romney.

LauraBridges Tue 07-Jan-14 21:21:29

Nibs - I think a bigger issue in the UK is that women are 50% of the population but only have about 20% of positions of power. I don't think we have quite the same racial divides as in the US although there are certainly issues there.

(And every Chinese I have ever met at any of our chidlren's 4 private schools here in London has always 100% been Amy Chua type. I am not making that up or being prejudiced. The children are brilliant and hard working. of course those from a different class may not be so but in the UK the one type of person who does the best of all different racial and sexual groups in private and state schools is Chinese girls. No one exceeds them as a group in exams (and increasingly you see in jobs too although that will take longer to filter through UK white women have spent 150 years trying to get 50% of positions of power and we still only have 205%) and good for them.

Stereotypes are never a good idea as they stop people looking at others as individuals.

OsmiumPhazer Tue 07-Jan-14 21:25:57

I was not mistaken I agree many 'Nigerian American' immigrants to the US tend to get in on a visa and they tend to be the educated middle class

antimatter Tue 07-Jan-14 21:45:08

many Chinese emigrants from mainland who came to UK in 90's (and perhaps before as well) were allowed on a visa to study for their Phd's and for postdocs
obviously then their kids will be able to achieve

I spoke to my Chinese doctor and he said he came 8 years ago on a working visa. His son was nearly a teenager then and now at Uni

I don't know what is the emigration of young professionals like now out of mainland China but at my nephew maths undergraduate course more than 20% of students were full fee paying Chinese students (in total there were 40% foreigners)

Shootingatpigeons Tue 07-Jan-14 23:19:35

Laura "Stereotypes are never a good idea as they stop people looking at others as individuals." Exactly. My DDs got to a very selective London private school and because they have lived in China they do actually have a lot of Chinese friends in particular. I don't recognise the stereotype. Is it relative? True their parents are not the types who encourage their children to be "cool " and "popular", put no boundaries on their behaviour and are too busy with their own lives to pay their children much attention. But I don't know a single Amy Chua amongst them and their daughters are all very different. Some studious and geeky, some inbetweeners etc. etc. just like their peers........

Kenlee Tue 07-Jan-14 23:53:27

I like si many Asian colleagues hit tje bamboo ceiling in our own countries. The only way around it is not to sulk about it but to move on. Most Asian graduates will move back to their country of ethnicity get well paid and send their children to boarding school.

BTW ...I am now my ex boss boss's boss..So there are ways around tje bamboo celing....

Nibs777 Wed 08-Jan-14 10:18:13

I don't understand that last post ...or the relevance of comment about being your boss's boss or sending kids to boarding school???

Moving back may have been the intention for those who came from overseas merely for an education in the US but most of the American Asians (Chinese /Koreans etc) are US citizens, second or third generation...it's like saying to Indians in Britain ...move back to your country of ethnicity...which for most would be like emigrating to a foreign land if they've been born and brought up and educated here all their lives.

Also there's no need for positive discrimination for any ethnic group if they are already over-represented in universities.

The point was there are stereotypes, and there may be many examples of those being true to form. On the other hand, while there's nothing bad in saying a certain culture is more hardworking and more driven in certain areas like maths, there are also many negative connotations that go along with that stereotype which may or may not be true for that individual ...which almost discount the success, if you like...eg "oh x is really good at maths and piano, but that's a given because he's Chinese and that get's drilled into them all from a very early age, but at the risk of creativity or individuality or leadership because the ethos at home of that culture is all about drilling for tests and obedience etc. ...."

Which is sort of what the article in New York was talking about.

I personally don't think Chinese or Indian babies are born better at maths, I think it's a general cultural difference at home (driven by their parents) that makes them focus heavily on such subjects from an early age at cost of others where success is easily measurable where you can show competitively you are ahead of the competition, in a way that you can't in English or Art, say.

Nibs777 Wed 08-Jan-14 10:30:21

Even if not born in US I would also think most Asian Americans who live there think of themselves as American first and Asian second....and so no intentions of moving "back" anywhere unless they only intended to come for a brief few years of education having been brought up somewhere else.

Kenlee Wed 08-Jan-14 10:39:02

Actually Nib I was just highlighting that if you do hit the ceiling in your career and are not moving. It is worth while to think about expanding your horizons. That is where a move to a more prominent position overseas may help to adcance your career. Your child will still be able to get the benfit of an English education via boarding.

I disagree that the ethnics are only good at Maths to the detriment of English. I think you will find that they are equally as competent at English too.

LCHammer Wed 08-Jan-14 10:59:03

Can I recommend here the book 'Americanah'? Great writing, interesting lives (starts in Nigeria).

bakingaddict Wed 08-Jan-14 11:18:40

It's nothing to do with being superior but about different emphasis being placed on children. Often the children of immigrants, be it Chinese or African, will be strongly encouraged to aspire to the professions i.e law, medicine, banking, finance because being part of the professions is like fully paid up membership to a new country and signifies that you have made it.

My DH is mixed oriental and there is a real difference between the children of his Chinese relatives and family friends and our own. Extra tutoring in the evening for Maths and Mandarin is commonplace even for those kids who haven't started formal school

Nibs777 Wed 08-Jan-14 12:54:10

i'd be curious if "acceleration" ...extra tutoring in maths at a very early age to be way ahead of your peers actually leads to the type of creative genius maths you need to get to Trinity, Cambridge...I see a distinction between the two - one is advancement by coaching and intensive hours of practice - which you can only do to a certain level only - the other is based on more natural intellect and being self driven though (with an obvious excellent base to start from but including intensive hours).

Shootingatpigeons Wed 08-Jan-14 13:44:12

Nibs no one knows if the statistical superiority of scores by Asians in tests of non verbal reasoning are the result of nature or nurture and if it is nurture whether it is to do with development and the influences of things like the different requirements of Chinese literacy skills, which require the greater development of pictorial memory, many Chinese students find western language hard to memorise. It could even be bias in the tests themselves. I would have thought it hard to argue it is merely down to tutoring, DIY or otherwise, too many other variables. I would also think it hard to compare attainment in literacy skills when language is so different.

What proportion of those reading Maths at Cambridge are Chinese? But then is that down to ability or bias in selection?

Shootingatpigeons Wed 08-Jan-14 13:50:56

The point being, going back to OP, that it is impossible to link success to some stereotype of tiger mothering. I am sure you could equally pick out examples of people whose lives were adversely affected but again how much of that would be down to ability, personality, prejudice and stereotyping, social position, opportunity and luck etc. etc. is impossible to say. Plenty of people who are not the subject of tiger mothering succeed as well, and through a combination of a miriad of factors.

ClifftopCafe Wed 08-Jan-14 13:56:00

Nibs those very able mathematicians I know at Cambridge were actually very put out when their Chinese students peers beat them hands down in any assessment and ended up with firsts to their 2:1s.

They, they said, had the superior natural ability but the hours and hours that their Chinese friends put in ultimately trumped them. They were not prepared to put the same hours in. Please excuse the stereotyping & anecdotal evidence but thought it was interesting...

richmal Wed 08-Jan-14 13:57:09

Nibbs If natural intellect and being self driven are all that is required to get into Cambridge how come a disproportionate number getting in come from private schools? It is a mixture of nature and nurture and part of that nurture is actually teaching maths to children.

LauraBridges Wed 08-Jan-14 14:02:30

50% of how you turn out is your environment at home. if you make your children do their homework whatever their colour they will do better than those who are not in that kind of culture. It's a pretty obvious effort in and results out for most of us.

I don't find locally that second generation immigrants ni the private schools have great English. My children are only in the top set for English because their pakistani and Indian peers have poor English. One actually sai d in the car yesterday - "I go gym". Instead of "I am going to the gym". This is a bright boy who was born here who passed an entrance test for the school. I think the schools should really work at teaching how to speak proper English otherwise my children have an advantage simply because of how we talk at home. Anyway that is just one side issue.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Wed 08-Jan-14 14:13:17

The Nurture part of the nature v nurture divide is a bit more complicated than that Laura. Ones environment isn't just ones home and parents, it's also the schools local area, wider society, the media one is exposed to both within the home and out and about, and so on. If it was so simple, we wouldn't have kids from "good" homes going off the rails and the Doll Test wouldn't show preschoolers associating their own dark skin with negative attributes.

(and there are several British dialects that would say "I go t' gym", it's not just an immigrant thing)

ClifftopCafe Wed 08-Jan-14 14:23:36

The schools -selective and private - increasingly want those with a high IQ and are devising and have devised tests to get to assess that core innate ability. Ability at English etc can all be taught, as they see it, but a CAT score of 140 or so trumps everything. To openly strive is not in vogue and generally seen as a negative IME.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 08-Jan-14 14:35:05

laura the whole of China says "I go gym" that is the grammatical structure of their language, with context used in place of tenses, admirably economical. Has it struck you that when relaxed with friends he can stick with the language conventions that come naturally but when he needs to he can say or write English articulately. My children complain that when they go back oop north to visit family they come back saying "are we not going t'restaurant?" Doesn't mean they reproduce it at school, or that the whole of the north can't get to university.

Once again at my DDs selective London indie I have never heard of this phenomenon. Yes their Asian friends gravitate to stem subjects but not because they don't have literacy skills.

Of course the whole of the north is underrepresented at Oxbridge, that must be the problem, language skills grin

Shootingatpigeons Wed 08-Jan-14 15:32:32

It might have helped if OP had actually posted details of Amy Chau's latest cynical attempt to make lots of money book, sequel to the last cynical attempt to make lots of money out of pseudo Psychology / Sociology . It would at least have explained the random mention of Mormons, if not the random inclusion of Mormons in the book grin. www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/08/tiger-mother-theory-cultural-group-jews-chinese Who knew Judaism, Mormonism (if that is the term) and being Nigerian had so much in common?

LauraBridges Wed 08-Jan-14 15:33:22

He's Indian though or his parents are. Do I'm not sure "I go gym" when you've been to English schools and private schools at that and you're a teenager is a great idea. Won't help you much in job interviews, not that I said anything to him. Also he will hear correct English all the time so you'd think he would pick it up automatically.

There was a UK/Indian GP on Radio 4 this morning whose English let him down although the points he was making were very good. Dropping his ts and all sorts. I think the schools shod work better at spoken English with the children who need it.

I have not said poor language skills are what stops children getting into Oxbridge, but they do hamper you in life.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 08-Jan-14 16:06:39

Laura maybe not in London private school society but if you work in business, especially International business you do get used to listening to the good points rather than whether the English is grammatically perfect and RP. I am sure the same is true of the academics who conduct uni interviews who I know are trained to ignore differences (as opposed to functional failings) in spoken English. And students often have to gain the same skills to access some brilliant lecturers.

I also do not judge how a child sounds amongst their peers because I am quite sure they would speak differently if called upon to do so. How many I wonder of his peers pepper their spoken English with "so" and "like" along with the upward inflection at the end of their sentence to the extent they struggle to stop when they need to impress?

My DDs and their peers speak exactly alike, in the same West London private school accent, regardless of ethnicity. Not necessarily a good thing either.

OsmiumPhazer Wed 08-Jan-14 16:10:33

Yes my original post was a bit random that was laziness on my part


Sorry to PM you but I am still trying to get my head around this site

Nibs777 Wed 08-Jan-14 16:20:09

I think IQ tests can be trumped too or at least improved ...by people who spend a lot of their time doing....well... IQ tests like Mensa...similarly, if you do a lot of maths and NVR and VR and vocab practice ...you probably do well on CAT tests also.

Nibs777 Wed 08-Jan-14 16:28:11

I think the disproportionate number getting into Cambridge from private are because some v. good privates go much further than the curriculum of A level with their top streams...and invest a lot in a few to get them there eg like STEP prep./interview prep. They can do that because they have smaller class sizes, better resources and are more in tune with what is needed, they may do IGCSE a year early so they can get into the meat of A level stuff earlier and in many cases will be superselective for Maths A level or pre-U at sixth form after having already generally been selective at 13+

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now