The War On Tiger Moms

This week, Sutherland’s newsletter addresses “tiger moms” and America’s education system.  It was written by Daniel E. Witte, director of Sutherland Institute’s Center for Educational Progress.


In a Wall Street Journal article titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” Yale law professor Amy Chua ignited a national uproar earlier this year by summarizing ideas from her recent memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Chua generated the controversy by jabbing at numerous sacred cows of the modern American educational order. She said, in essence, that objective excellence actually matters. Academic achievement is more important than sports. Many social activities are detrimental distractions. Rote repetition and basic drills are essential to learning. Discipline and punishment are healthy, normal aspects of family culture. Over-indulgence and emphasis on children’s self-esteem and supposed fragility is misguided. Filial piety is a cornerstone of success. Cultural success and the well-being of children depend upon intense involvement and direction from parents, especially mothers.

Of course, successful child-raising principles are not unique to the traditional Chinese culture. Similar “heresies” are embraced by other Asian societies, including (but not limited to) traditional Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese and Indians.