When you look at the race of undergraduates attending the premiere state schools out here in California – UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD — Asian students dominate.
At UCSD, for instance, 50% of undergrads are Asian. At UCLA and UC Berkeley the percentage of Asian undergrads are respectively 40% and 42%. In contrast, whites represent 23% of the student body at UCSD, while Hispanics and blacks represent an alarmingly low 13% and 1% respectively. I’d be surprised if there are any other universities in the country that are so heavily Asian.
Asian Success at UC Campuses
The reason why Asians are a dominant presence at the premiere research institutions in my state is because the UC system picks students based predominantly on grades and class rank. Asians’ tremendous academic success here has generated a great deal of grumbling among non-Asian parents and tremendous pride among Asian parents.
I’m bringing this up today because of this essay that I read in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend:
In her WSJ essay, Amy Chua, a Yale law professor and the author of a new memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, shares her take on why Asians students excel.
I found the essay disturbing. And I am not the only parent who experienced a visceral reaction to this essay — close to 1,700 people have commented on it and most of the observations that I read were negative.
Chua’s Take on Parenting
Here is how Chua begins her WSJ essay:
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. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
- attend a sleepover
- have a play date
- be in a school play
- complain about not being in a school play
- watch TV or play computer games
- choose their own extracurricular activities
- get any grade less than an A
- not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
- play any instrument other than the piano or violin
- not play the piano or violin.
At first I thought her essay was a parody, but it’s not. What do you think of this parenting style?
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller and a workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree. Follow her on Twitter.