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.

MoreBeta Mon 06-Jan-14 21:52:02

What is a Nigerian American exactly?

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Mon 06-Jan-14 22:23:30

Eh? One minute you're talking about Nigerian Americans, the next Mormons.

Kenlee Mon 06-Jan-14 23:59:52

iI would say a child born in America with Nigerian parents....Who gets the best of America and Nigerian values....

I can not be sure what you are trying to get at OP because I think its more about parenting rather than ethnicity along with the childs inate IQ..

I met a Mormon once he felt I was confused...

rabbitstew Tue 07-Jan-14 10:21:05

I don't see the link between superiority and being over-represented at Harvard Business School, law firms and investment banks. I can see the link to status and wealth, but don't think chasing status and wealth equals superiority, just a particular mindset.

MrsSteptoe Tue 07-Jan-14 10:29:23

Agree with rabbitstew. I work in a very, very successful organisation that would be considered the pinnacle of aspiration for those wanting to go into the City (in a very, very lowly capacity) and after many years of observing the latest intake of Harvard or Oxbridge entrants, I can confidently say that they aren't really brighter. They just come from families where that type of ambition is drilled into them. I don't personally regard that as "superior", though nor do I regard it as inferior - it just is.

Gunznroses Tue 07-Jan-14 10:55:18

Nigerian Americans over-represented at HBS, law firms and investment banks...really????? care to share your evidence?, i'd be really interested in studying it.

AngelaDaviesHair Tue 07-Jan-14 10:59:02

Nigeria is the group she names, but apparently the statistics relate to people of West African origin generally. Presumably Nigeria was just the country Amy Wotsit had heard of, so she bunged that in.

Nigerians as models of impulse control? Can you hear that noise? It's the sound of the whole of Ghana laughing.

MrsSteptoe Tue 07-Jan-14 11:08:27

grin angeladavieshair

LauraBridges Tue 07-Jan-14 11:14:07

I've worked occasionally in Lagos. I was with a group of female Nigerian lawyers, all mothers and one was about to send her child to an English boarding school - I think they were Yoruba. It is a great country for growth at the moment with a growing middle class but it has lot of terrorism too and many poorer people.

I thought the US had a weird system of preference for anyone with one sixteenth of non white genes which gets you university places not just on merit but colour and is arguably racist. Surely that would account for some of the statistics suggested.

AngelaDaviesHair Tue 07-Jan-14 11:20:15

I thought the US had a weird system of preference for anyone with one sixteenth of non white genes which gets you university places not just on merit but colour and is arguably racist. Surely that would account for some of the statistics suggested

Look, there are 'black' universities mainly but not exclusively for African- American students, all started when all other universities refused to admit black students. There are scholarship and initiatives like the National Negro Colege fund (I think it is called) aimed at black students, all designed to address and correct the crushing inequality and prejudice that they face. That is hardly racist or unfair.

It is also of no real relevance to what the book in the OP is talking about. Which is that people of West African origin born outside the US, or their children born in the US, do dramatically better in education and work than people from the historic African-American population, i.e. the descendants of the slaves.

But really, black people only doing well in American colleges because the system is tipped in their favour? No, hardly.

AngelaDaviesHair Tue 07-Jan-14 11:20:39

Please excuse typos.

Gunznroses Tue 07-Jan-14 11:33:01

I've never read this book, nor do i believe the statement about Nigerian Americans being overrepresented at HBS etc but LauraBridges states she has worked in Lagos alongside a number of female nigerian lawyers, and the emerging middle-class one whom was sending her dc to a british boarding school, then finishes off with African students getting into university not on merit but on colour because
Surely that would account for some of the statistics suggested

yes of course because it couldn't possibly be just for their brains!

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Tue 07-Jan-14 11:35:47

Actually Laura, the greatest winner of affirmative action in America is White women and the number of race based scholarships are very very tiny mostly started by groups when joining mainstream White education was legally barred rather than just socially (as Angela said). People are far more likely to get a leg up by being the child of alumni than by race. Please stop spreading these racist rumours, it causes a lot of hard working people a lot of pain and abuse from people thinking they only got in due to their race and doubting their general abilities.

And it would not account for why children of African immigrants do better than children of African Americans. There is a difference in how both groups are treated in the States for a wide variety of reasons, not all having to do with culture or values. The idea of one being superior to the others is a bit gross though and ignores a lot of social issues.

mercibucket Tue 07-Jan-14 11:41:48

what do you mean by 'superior'?

NeoFaust Tue 07-Jan-14 11:48:20

Countries like America have very stringent immigration laws. This means that only the top performing percentile of immigrants from developing nations will be permitted into the country. Families with a high work ethic and maximum appreciation for education will always be heavily represented among the top achievers of any nation, so immigrants are likely to appear among this cohort.

Nothing to do with superior culture, everything to do with selective immigration policies.

AngelaDaviesHair Tue 07-Jan-14 12:12:44

Amy Wotsit also appears not to recognise the fact that 'Nigerians' and 'African-Americans' are closely related racially, historically and culturally.

And that comparing what is likely to be a group of relatively privileged, well-educated and highly motivated West African immigrants with all African-Americans of whatever class and education is not very bright.

Such immigrants (and there are a lot of my relatives in that category) do not tend to face the same levels of prejudice from non-black Americans nor the same obstacles to accessing higher education in America as, say, an African-American from a very poor and disadvantaged background. To the point where there can be some resentment from the latter towards the former, as my cousin found to her cost at school and college.

Kenlee Tue 07-Jan-14 12:17:48

I want to know why is that Chinese are successful but we don't get positive discrimination...

I also want to add does it really make a difference what ethnicity you are..?

LauraBridges Tue 07-Jan-14 13:02:39

As I say I met a lot of Nigerian professional women keen for their children to do well. My comment about Harvard and affirmative action was just to highlight the difference with the UK were we do not have the same programmes. They are very controversial in the US. Teenagers will root around all their family history to find that magic 16th which is non WASP which might help them in. There are arguments and debates about the programme all the time in the US and even books written on it. The US has a very different type of race relations to the UK because of its different past and it may well need these affirmative actions where the US does not but let us not deny the programmes do not exist. They do.


Shootingatpigeons Tue 07-Jan-14 13:40:11

Kenlee Exactly. What we are encountering here is the incomprehension that other countries have elites who have better resources, connections and networking skills than the rest of their society, ethnicity is irrelevant, though sometimes they are also an ethnic elite. I could ask why Nigerians are also over represented in perpetrating certain types of fraud, certainly against the organisation I worked for, but I am sure we recognise that other countries have their criminals, with particular cultural values, resources and connections too. The same certainly goes for China.

Tiger mothers can also certainly come from every ethnicity, including WASP, with similar risks and benefits to their offspring. Some cultures may predispose parents to become tiger mothers as does the fact that someone has made that leap to become an immigrant in search of greater opportunity. However not all Chinese or Nigerian or immigrant mothers are tiger mothers, and even if they are there are degrees, and extrapolating the success of the children of an elite / culture /ethnicity to demonstrate anything about the benefits of what I gather was pretty extreme tiger mothering is to say the least spurious even if, like all good stereotypes, it sells books.

MoreBeta Tue 07-Jan-14 17:43:24

I think the OP may be mistaking ethnicity for wealth and middle class immigrant aspiration.

Nigerian immigrants to the USA tend to be quite wealthy and well educated themselves and hence tend to want that for their children and can afford to pay for it. There are lots of Nigerian children in UK boarding schools and at UK universities for the same reason. Other nationalities are also represented too and for similar reasons.

It is not about being 'Nigerian' it is about wealth and having an aspiration for your children.

Nibs777 Tue 07-Jan-14 18:47:04

As for tiger moms and Asian Americans there is still a lot of conscious and unconscious bias in the US (and I believe that is mirrored by stereotypes often believed here in Western Europe - where are the Chinese CEOs, MPs, and senior judges?). I do think there is an unconscious bias in many non-Chinese Western people to think ..."well he/she would be good at piano/maths/chess because they are Chinese and that is all they focus on from an early age". An stereo type reinforced by Amy Chua.

There was a very interesting article in New York magazine written by Asian Americans from their perspective (eg Koreans, Chinese Americans) on this and reference to Amy Chua and also the bamboo ceiling. Not all Chinese americans are seen as piano playing chess and maths geniuses...there's a prejudice against the poorer Chinese immigrants in the Chinatown areas on the basis that they are an underclass in some people's eyes.

link to whole article:


"Here is what I sometimes suspect my face signifies to other Americans: an invisible person, barely distinguishable from a mass of faces that resemble it. A conspicuous person standing apart from the crowd and yet devoid of any individuality. An icon of so much that the culture pretends to honor but that it in fact patronizes and exploits. Not just people “who are good at math” and play the violin, but a mass of stifled, repressed, abused, conformist quasi-robots who simply do not matter, socially or culturally.

I’ve always been of two minds about this sequence of stereotypes. On the one hand, it offends me greatly that anyone would think to apply them to me, or to anyone else, simply on the basis of facial characteristics. On the other hand, it also seems to me that there are a lot of Asian people to whom they apply."

Another extract:

"The researcher was talking about what some refer to as the “Bamboo Ceiling”—an invisible barrier that maintains a pyramidal racial structure throughout corporate America, with lots of Asians at junior levels, quite a few in middle management, and virtually none in the higher reaches of leadership.

The failure of Asian-Americans to become leaders in the white-collar workplace does not qualify as one of the burning social issues of our time. But it is a part of the bitter undercurrent of Asian-American life that so many Asian graduates of elite universities find that meritocracy as they have understood it comes to an abrupt end after graduation. If between 15 and 20 percent of every Ivy League class is Asian, and if the Ivy Leagues are incubators for the country’s leaders, it would stand to reason that Asians would make up some corresponding portion of the leadership class.

And yet the numbers tell a different story. According to a recent study, Asian-­Americans represent roughly 5 percent of the population but only 0.3 percent of corporate officers, less than 1 percent of corporate board members, and around 2 percent of college presidents. There are nine Asian-American CEOs in the Fortune 500. In specific fields where Asian-Americans are heavily represented, there is a similar asymmetry. A third of all software engineers in Silicon Valley are Asian, and yet they make up only 6 percent of board members and about 10 percent of corporate officers of the Bay Area’s 25 largest companies. At the National Institutes of Health, where 21.5 percent of tenure-track scientists are Asians, only 4.7 percent of the lab or branch directors are, according to a study conducted in 2005"

Nibs777 Tue 07-Jan-14 19:19:48

Hollywood reinforces the stereotype also, in a way that would not be politically correct at all for other racial groups in modern day America - in The Internship for example, a comedy where you have interns competing for a job at Google...you have Yo-Yo, an Asian-American boy who was homeschooled by a stereotypical overbearing Asian mother...timid, constantly on the phone reassuring her he is working hard, and when stressed pulling his eyebrows out so he has none, and at one point when a punch is thrown at him in a bar fight, responding mockingly, "my mother hits harder than you.."

antimatter Tue 07-Jan-14 19:27:08

I dare say - a lot (if not all) of professional women from every background/ethnicity are keen for their children to do well grin

OsmiumPhazer Tue 07-Jan-14 21:19:27

It was Aamy Chua who wrote this book not me

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+

Nibs777 Wed 08-Jan-14 16:37:54

Don't forget ....educated ethnics are usually only let down by their English when it is a second or in some cases third language.....bit like being educated much of your life in UK then going to work in France and being judged by not so perfect French. Some second generation immigrant children may also revert to bad English because at home that's what their first generation parents speak if not talking to them in their native language (and sometimes parent's native language may be the only in spoken at home).

I wouldn't expect any educated person who speaks English as a first language to be saying "I go gym".

"I go t'gym" though is just dialect and not any lack of education in English.

It's a rare bird that is truly bilingual...most who are still have a noticeable first language and hence a distinguishable "foreign" accent in the second.

Nibs777 Wed 08-Jan-14 16:44:04

should have typed ..."I'm going t'gym" is dialect not use of bad English

AngelaDaviesHair Wed 08-Jan-14 21:18:25

S'ok, Osmium, hope I didn't come across as too arsey. There was jiggery pokery on another thread involving PMs and ithas made me twitchy. It's an interesting thread, thanks for starting it.

LauraBridges Wed 08-Jan-14 21:46:41

It surprised me too about this boy. In fact my son tonight showed me that boy's texts to point out the grammar. I hope I made it clear that above all they must all try to be nice to each other and there will be plenty of things we get wrong or just do differently.

"I go gym" is interesting because his father works in the City and presumably is quite bright and I presume was brought up here in the UK not India, and I don't think it's put on, like some teenagers deliberately speak with Caribbean accents to be trendy and my son said quite a few of the boys miss the the out. The other one that annoys me and plenty of less well educated adults use this is say - I play guitar or piano. They miss out the "the". Perhaps it's just lazy speech such as people who drop their ts might be doing.

I would prefer I go t'gym as they have the definite article in there - the the. Anyway it's not important or particularly relevant to the thread. The boy though does say he's gifted and talented and I am laughing because my sons (at home not to his face) were telling me his low marks. He probably just feels a bit insecure and he seems to need to show off about things all the time. Mind you if he has my self styled "grammar Nazi" son sitting next to him all day pointing out where his apostrophes should go I'm not surprised. Anyway they all get on, so that's fine.

Actually if we take this thread as about cultural groups then middle class high earning mothers from and sending children to selective fee paying schools are a culture of their own and their children do fairly well too because it matters that our children do well in their exams. So really any class, caste or culture which has that ethos is going to find children do better within reason. If you're beating them and not letting them ever play then the whole thing will backfire on you.

deliverance Sat 11-Jan-14 09:29:08

I don't think that some groups are superior, inately. I am first generation English Indian (born in the 60s). Most Indian children are seen to be highly intelligent. My children were born in the noughties. They are not particularly clever but I have supplemented thier school work with home-based education. Call it coaching, call it enrichment, but it is really down to how education is perceived by some cultures. Because I perceive it highly, I have pushed my average level ability children hard. Older one has now got into a superselective grammar school.

BTW,, to Nibs. You mentioned an Indian boy who spoke, "I go to gym". Are you sure you are not just confusing that with wider "yoof speak".

Kenlee Sat 11-Jan-14 10:38:06

May I add being a second generation chinese immigrant British born (BBC). I did not find that we faired any better or worse than our non immigrant counterpart. In fact I went to lowly UCL where my best friend went to Cambridge. We both turned out ok.

It is really nothing to do with ethnicity it is mostly to do with work ethic. If it is install at home and is carried over to school work then in most cases your child will succeed.

I have never believed the utter rubbish from statistics saying East Aaian have the highest IQ. It all down to the individual we all share the same DNA.

Nibs777 Sat 11-Jan-14 12:21:30

I was not referencing any Indian boy that I know ....I was just commenting on someone else mentioning it on this thread ....and the comment... "I go gym...." yes, not having been witness to it, it could well be "yoof speak", rather than English spoken as a second language which I was surmising.

My own son won't stop dropping in a "lol" here and there and I can't stand "textspeak" but he seems to think it's cool.

Agree with Kenlee...but you have to agree work ethic in some cultures (Indian, Chinese) is very much focussed on things like acceleration in maths and nothing to do with DNA yes, no group is innately superior at all in my view, but sometimes (and not to single out any cultures on this) the pressure can be taken to an extreme at the sacrifice of balance ...lifestyle balance is a choice for adults, but for children made to have no balance, long term, it could be detrimental. Awful if they looked back and thought, where was my childhood. You have said this yourself for HK Chinese.

Enrichment - fostering natural curiosity and interest in a subject to go more in depth by a variety of means- I see that as different from coaching or acceleration.

LauraBridges Sat 11-Jan-14 16:26:36

I wish I'd never mentioned the poor boy now and I hope his mother doesn't read this site. He does say "go gym" - he said it again the day before yesterday and it sounds really weird and I don't think most of the children talk like that. Anyway it's not an important point except I do think some of the children at their fee paying school are in homes where the standard of English of the parents is not very good and that is probably why my sons are in the top set for English whereas if they were with children whose parents spoke correct English at home I doubt they would be.

Work ethic makes a huge difference. I love it that most of my children's schools are second generation immigrants putting their all into paying fees as that rubs off across the whole class and culture of the school and I want mine to work hard too so it's a huge bonus if you can be in a school like that. We have a much stronger work ethic in this family than most UK white families so I have more in common with these other cultures in that sense.

Woody Allen was once asked the secret of his success - he said he just showed up and that alone explains enough. If your family ethic is you work regardless, whether you're feeling a bit tired or whatever you always turn up on time and do what is expected. If you can do that you are already well ahead of a lot of people. I just took a call from a client who was surprised I was at my desk and I was happy to give him the advice needed immediately on a Saturday afternoon.

I was reading in the paper today about two black UK actors on in that new slavery film and what was fascinating about the description of their teenage years was that they became utterly focussed on work and acting (and one was lucky enough to have a single parent mother who paid fees for Dulwich College school I think it said who worked very hard). When a lot of teenagers were lying around they were out there practising, joining groups, reading, learning. It is the 10,000 hours Gladwell suggests in his Outliers book that people who succeed often put in that can make them good at something. He found the Beatles did 10,000 hours in clubs in Berlin, often 7 hour sessions. Bill Gates did 10,000 hours of programming as a teenager etc etc. Put in the effort, have drive and self confidence, work very hard and you often do well. People say I've been very lucky and I am sure I have but the old saying that funnily enough the harder I work the luckier I get rings true.

Kenlee Sat 11-Jan-14 23:36:03

Again as a BBC whose parents spoke Chinglish. I did not feel disadvantaged in the least. I never felt I was held back by my parent's lack of English skill.

English was spoken at school. You learnt it from your friends and teachers. In fact I regularly gained higher marks than my non immigrant counterparts.

I attribute this to hard work. So having non academic parents also is not a barrier to getting good results.

Although I have to admit the sterotype of Chinese parents thinking a B is a fail was true of my parents.

In HK that is certainly true. All children are expected to have an art...a musical instrument ....a Sport....and be academic.

All are tutored to within an inch. Do any kids what to do it NO....only a very few.....

Now my daughter still hates to dance but is now willining to do the grade 8 music after quitting at grade 5....She likes to swim not to win but just for the heck of it....that is what a good school provides choice...and making the right choices....for the right reasons...

o yes she has been to school for 3 mths and has already picked up the Surrey accent....

mathanxiety Sun 12-Jan-14 05:58:03

Amy Wotsit also appears not to recognise the fact that 'Nigerians' and 'African-Americans' are closely related racially, historically and culturally.

That's not really true.
African Americans may mostly have originated in west Africa but hundreds of years of legal disability and being told they were worthless have had an effect on many African Americans in America that west Africans whose ancestors spent the last few hundred years in Africa do not have to grapple with.

Amy Chua makes the point that work ethic and maybe a tendency to value yourself based on what school says about you, or how far you are promoted, or the size of your paycheque, is something common to specific ethnic groups whereas some others are happy to blend in with their communities, or be seen as hip, or feel good about themselves if they make what they feel is an effort, without reference to how that effort is perceived. Think of Lisa Simpson when school is closed for a snow day and she finds she can't survive without being graded. That is the sort of culture Chua has identified in certain groups.

As an Irish immigrant to the US I have noticed that many Irish immigrants are uber over-achievers, along with many Russians and Poles, none of whom were rich and few of whom were English speakers or holders of advanced degrees when they arrived. There is a sort of divide in those communities, with some sinking into the American middle.

However, her categorisation of Nigerian Americans is spot on imo (and I realise this is not a scientific observation). All those I know are gunning for Harvard and its ilk for their children, and doing the spadework necessary to make sure their children get there (making sure homework is done, making sure children have library cards and read a lot, making sure children are in at night and not out partying) -- it's not all aspiration with nothing to back it up. And while the Nigerian Americans I know speak very good English with an accent, none of them came from wealthy backgrounds. Speaking standard English and insisting your children do too is a struggle they have taken up with great energy and commitment.

Chua is not saying there is anything innate, or biological if you will, about the drive to succeed -- what she is saying is some groups have a culture (derived from their history and circumstances and maybe from religious values) that makes them better suited to get their children through school with As and into top universities. They also have a very hands-on attitude to parenting, see themselves as 'in charge' of their children's education, and do not leave it to schools.

I think Chua should look at members of her highlighted communities who do not succeed. These people exist, and I think she could refine her argument substantially if she looked at examples of individuals who do not get As or get into a selective university. I think impulse control is the most important element of the qualities she identified, and from my own unscientific observation of my DCs' schoolmates, this is a quality that is shared by many, not just the groups she identifies.

* Affirmative action programmes do not tend to benefit the urban poor, and the non-urban, non-poor would do fine without them. I think it is a fallacy that American teenagers root around among their ancestors trying to find the tiniest hint of some minority to give them some miniscule advantage.

FormaLurka Sun 12-Jan-14 10:16:45

LOL at the posters who roll their eyes at the assertion that Africans from one part are culturally different from another part.

The French are only a Channel Tunnel train ride away and look at the cultural difference. Now, pull up a map of Africa and note the size ....

With regards to the OP, I know quite a few Asian Oxbridge graduates from 'humble' backgrounds. One dad is a shop floor worker. So easy to draw the conclusion that Asians are academically superior eh?

This one parent was a University lecturer before fleeing Africa and is now a shop floor worker. Others moved to a strange country (the UK) to seek a better life. By implication these are more pro active and ambitious people than those who stayed behind.

My point? Generalisations about immigrants are meaningless. I mean, the ones that you meet here are not necessarily representative of the native countries culture. If it was then India would be an economic powerhouse.

LauraBridges Sun 12-Jan-14 12:01:56

Forma, that's very well known in the UK. Somali refugees in London who were uneducated back home do nothing like as well as the successful lawyers and doctors who were from India but were thrown out of Africa by Idi Amin. Even though when the Indians arrived here from Africa they had to take jobs as taxi drivers etc because the family had been from the professional class not surprisingly their children did very well. The Nigerian female lawyers I met in Lagos from the middle classes sending their children to English boarding schools are the same and very different from descendants of American black slaves from very poor homes.

I also agree that those who choose and make the effort to move somewhere as likely to be the ones who work hardest although none of this explains the tables showing Chinese, Koreans etc at the top of all those school tests for maths and science in their own countries - they aren't immigrants working hard. They are brought up in their homeland in a culture of hard work and it shows.

FormaLurka Sun 12-Jan-14 12:41:31

Hi Laura

I agree that in Hong Kong for example the culture is such that there is more focus on education success. I was merely addressing those posters who draw conclusions based on immigrants in their respective countries.

Kenlee Mon 13-Jan-14 00:10:25

Ah but the question is if you Tiger your child does it make them succesful? If you are micro managing their lives do they become reliant on it?

If your child is naturally bright I think they may get over it. Although, If they are lazy and you are doing all their life's descion they just may end up educated but not intelligent.

Im not a fan of tigering nor helicoptering... I think advice should be offered when needed. Amy chua's type of parenting is not my cup of tea. Although, when I see it in HK I accept that its parental choice.

I still don't see intelligence stems from ethnicity. It still is to me the ability of the child to organize themselves and for them to put in the time to understand and yes even rote learn components for the test in hand.

mathanxiety Mon 13-Jan-14 02:09:13

em, I think India is an economic powerhouse and if not then it may be by the time I finish typing this..

Obviously, if there are tables in China, Korea, etc., someone is going to be at the bottom, and those students are most likely also Chinese or Korean, since these societies do not have large immigrant groups.

Chua also singles out Mormons and Jews, who are most likely not immigrants or second generation Americans as examples of groups who do really well. In both groups, thanks to bigotry from outside, a clear sense of identity existed right from the start of their experience of America.

I think on reflection, those groups who do best come from cultures where the education system is designed to be very competitive or where opportunities to flourish are few and far between. Parents who arrive in America from those places see an education system and grading system designed to enable children to succeed and can't believe the treasure they have stumbled upon. Some immigrants are also acutely aware of what they themselves were doing in school at certain grades and become impatient with slower-moving school instruction so do it themselves at home.

My Russian friends were dismayed at the maths curriculum they encountered so taught their grandchild themselves; she got both Russian and American maths, as well as Russian literature taught every afternoon, and Russian language and culture at weekend classes, and violin lessons -- from a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory -- to the point where she is now first violin in a prestigious youth orchestra.

lainiekazan Tue 14-Jan-14 14:54:54

Dd's friend is a Tiger Child (Malaysian). Her schedule is frightening. She is a very able child and high achiever.

I think though that given that the child has some innate ability, and the parents are ambitious, there is another factor to create the perfect storm - and maybe that relates to certain ethnic groups - and that is that the child must be driven too.

With the best will in the world (and a whip) I just could not persuade dd to keep up the same pace as her friend. She would rebel and it would not end well. Amy chua mentions in her first book that by the third generation, kids have gone off the boil and can't be bothered with all the hard work, so perhaps success does depend on raw hunger.

wordfactory Tue 14-Jan-14 15:11:22

math I think you may have something there.

My DS attends a super selective school, one which many UK parents would not even bother trying for. They would dismiss it as 'too difficult' or 'too much pressure'.

Yet, many many parents from cultures you describe put their DC's names down. They figure with enough graft and grit their DC will get in and thrive there.

And they do seem to!

Nibs777 Tue 14-Jan-14 15:52:05

I think you have to have quite an obedient child or they are entirely self driven in which case they shouldn't need "tiger mothering" or micro management . In some cultures, at risk of stereotyping, some children are more obedient to authority (parents, teachers) than others.

If you have a child who is innately very clever but strong-willed and potentially rebellious and not happy to be overly scheduled or pushed to extremes, and who may have other interests they want to pursue than just drill drill drill for tests, I do think enormous pressure to compete from the parents to always come top can really backfire. It may even destroy love of learning on the long run.

LauraBridges Tue 14-Jan-14 16:01:16

Also some cultures will beat the child and even use sticks and other implements to ensure the child stays still and works. I am not saying all Tiger parents do this but many do on the planet.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 14-Jan-14 16:19:17

I don't buy this at all. Children from ethnicities associated with tiger parenting are overrepresented in the local superselective state and private schools but they are still not the majority, plenty of pupils who do not have ethnic backgrounds get into these schools and achieve highly. You also have to factor in parents from different cultures being willing to subject their DC to hours of repetitive VR practise (for the state schools and acknowledged as skewing the ability range that are successful) or being prepared to make sacrifices to be able to pay for private education.

Of those who do achieve highly some are very competitive but plenty are not, indeed these schools pride themselves on nurturing individuals, not putting them through a sausage factory (the extent to which they succeed is another matter). The cohorts going to the most selective universities are not particularly skewed ethnically or according to their competitive natures either.

Noone seems to be building into this that the subject and intellectual challenge of academic study can be the motivation. I have always been very careful not to be a tiger mother but I and my DDs have had great joy in discovering and sharing our respective specialisms. They therefore have the motivation to achieve and do well. The sheer joy of learning, and of using your ability and talents.

mathanxiety Tue 14-Jan-14 19:13:24

It's not all drilling for tests in the American system, and this is where some of Chua's observations are lost in translation, because tests are such an important of the system in Britain (and Ireland -- no idea about continental European systems).

In America consistency of effort and homework product from day to day, week to week and month to month is the name of the game thanks to the grade point average system. Your final grade for the semester depends on your participation in class, every piece of homework you have turned in and your tests and quizzes along the way as well as the final semester exam. Ahead of each final semester exam every one of my DCs got notification of the percentage they had to achieve in their final in every subject in order to get an A, B, C or D for their final grade for the semester. A final never counted for more than 40% of the semester grade iirc and in some courses it contributed a much lower percentage to the final grade, so you could not hope to raise your final grade by much in many classes.

And the content of the final was discussed and prepared for in class and at extra study sessions, with the understanding that students would also work at it at home if they needed to. It wasn't a case of making children learn the whole semester's coursework off or guessing right about the exam content in hopes of hitting the jackpot on exam day. The philosophy of teaching is that students will have a solid grasp of the material, and their test taking skills, adrenaline management, or sheer dumb luck are not what the exams are intended to measure.

When parents arrive from a system where the exam is the be all and end all, and they see how the possibility of achievement is built in instead of systematically excluded, it looks like a candy store left unlocked. At least that is what it looked like to me, arriving form the very cutthroat and completely exam-focused Irish system.

US students heading for university do also have to do well in ACT (American College Test) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) which are aptitude tests as well as tests of material covered. In order to do well, students need to be all rounders as the score is cumulative. So while parents may have a student on their hands who enjoys math or music or English literature and can do well at these subjects without tearing their hair out, keeping them working really hard at subjects they find challenging is a task that ambitious parents have to grapple with.

In such a system, parents who take their eye off the ball for the whole of September and October and allow their children to forget about homework and weekly tests, etc., are going to find their children unable to achieve an A even if they learn the textbook completely by heart the day before the exam.

The three qualities Chua singled out as really important matter greatly in America. Again, I think impulse control is the most important because a consistent and very disciplined approach on the part of your student is really, really important in America, and very few 12, 13, 14, 15, or even 16 year olds have the maturity to manage that on their own (and there are lots of very serious distractions in the middle class communities Chua is familiar with), but I see where she is coming from as far as over-identifying with the American culture being a drawback goes. It pays to see your educational approach and your own educational experience at home as superior. If you do, then at the very least you will have something to compare your child's curriculum with, and this matters in a world where your child's competition for that place in Yale is a child from Eton or some education factory in Shanghai.

I don't think it matters for the sake of Chua's argument that Nigerians, Lebanese, Mormons, etc., are not the majority in superselective schools (and superselective schools are not a factor in America anyway). It's the high achieving students as a percentage of their own group that Chua is deriving her figures from and her arguments too. The percentage of 'American' students achieving great results is far lower as their group is much larger, obviously.

Speaking from my own experience, of 23 valedictorians in DD2's graduating class (in her HS, this meant students who got all As in all honours subjects for four years running/seven of eight semesters - see description above of the consistent effort across the board this required) two were the children of Russian immigrants (of three identifiable children of Russian parents), one Irish (of two known Irish parents), one English (one known English family), one Indian (four Indian families). Harder to tell who may have been Jewish or Mormon.

In the case of those HS students who achieved National Merit Finalist status based on their success in the PSAT/NMSQT exam (these students came in the top half of one percent nationwide in that particular exam) -- 17 from this particular graduating class of 850 -- representation of children of immigrants was even more pronounced as a percentage of the whole (and there was a lot of crossover between valedictorians and National Merit Finalists, as you might expect.)

mathanxiety Tue 14-Jan-14 19:15:23

I don't think it's all grim grindstone slog either in the case of students who achieve great results, Shootingatpigeons. That is where I part company with Amy Chua.

FormaLurka Tue 14-Jan-14 20:08:17

Lol at Laura's comment that some but not all tiger parents beat their children. Why stop there? How about some but not all tiger parents cheat on their partners or ... or ...

LauraBridges Tue 14-Jan-14 20:59:24

I meant physical punishment is the norm in some countries where children are forced to hard work. Someone was saying how do you make the child work hard - well a lot of cultures they beat them and that is the norm. I wanted to see rates in Africa and China but did not really find what I was after.

"Of the 24 countries with corporal punishment bans, 19 are in Europe, including all of the Scandinavian and near Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland). Three others are in Central or South America, one in the Middle East and one in Oceania (the region that includes Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Ocean island nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia).
There are no national bans on corporal punishment anywhere in Asia or North America. "

Shootingatpigeons Wed 15-Jan-14 08:39:25

Laura That is the trouble with stereotypes, you can't always find the evidence to support them. hmm

FYI a lot of cultures, especially China, very much value and respect children, far more than we do here. The stereotype of the spoilt very well fed "little Emperor" is far more likely to apply. You will actually encounter very little corporal punishment, perhaps the result of the trauma of their recent history, most parents will have experienced the extreme violence of the Cultural Revolution and value peace and harmony.

Of course with only one "little Emperor" to pay for your care in old age (no iron rice bowl anymore, healthcare costs money) faced with a very competitive school system that requires extraordinary levels of rote learning of model answers to succeed in the exam system, a relic of the Imperial exam model that determined membership of the bureaucratic elite, then they will do whatever is required to succeed, to the extent that some schools connect them up to drips to keep them going. Not surprising then that when the various University of London libraries started opening 24 hours the number of Chinese students asleep over their books was perceived as a worrying problem. Hard working, but few in the UK think that is smart working.

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