≡ Menu

‘Tiger’ kids in community college

Chinese mothers are superior because they push their children relentlessly to earn straight A’s (except in P.E. and drama) and excel in music, writes Amy Chua, a Yale law professor, in the Wall Street Journal. Chua is promoting a new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

When tiger mothers’ children don’t get straight A’s they may end up as anxious, depressed, even suicidal students in Hugo Schwyzer’s classes at Pasadena Community College. 

About one-third of his students are of Asian ancestry; most are Chinese-Americans, often from immigrant families. Some are good students who started a four-year degree at community college to save money. But many failed to meet their parents’ sky-high expectations.

Many were shamed, some were beaten, almost all were made to feel inadequate. Many, particularly from the more affluent areas of the San Gabriel Valley like San Marino, were expected to get straight As and be accepted into prestigious four-year universities. A great many didn’t, and most (despite what Chua claims) got Bs, and more than a few had high school transcripts littered with Cs. Chua peddles . . .  the myth in which average grades, depression, drug and alcohol problems, eating disorders and significant learning disabilities simply don’t happen to Chinese children. In her world, Chinese children don’t get rejected from Berkeley and Stanford and Princeton. But I have Chinese-American students who were not only rejected from those schools, they didn’t have the grades to get into Cal State Los Angeles.

It’s very hard to grow up with perfectionist parents, writes Schwyzer.  Many students “are shell-shocked, numb from years and years of the very abuse that Chua celebrates.”  One of his Asian-American students tried to kill herself when UCLA rejected her transfer application. Compared to whites, young Chinese-Americans are much more likely to kill themselves.