Monday, January 31, 2011

Link of the Day

Robert Mankoff in New Yorker: Tiger Mother and the Cartoon Arms Race. "Inspired" by Amy Chua's 'Chinese Mother vs. Western Mother' bombshell. Features lots of New Yorker cartoons. Fabulous.

Bonus Link: Elizabeth Kolbert's excellent review-essay on Chua's book.

In Chua’s binary world, there are just two kinds of mother. There are “Chinese mothers,” who, she allows, do not necessarily have to be Chinese. “I’m using the term ‘Chinese mothers’ loosely,” she writes. Then, there are “Western” mothers. Western mothers think they are being strict when they insist that their children practice their instruments for half an hour a day. For Chinese mothers, “the first hour is the easy part.” Chua chooses the instruments that her daughters will play—piano for the older one, Sophia; violin for the younger, Lulu—and stands over them as they practice for three, four, sometimes five hours at a stretch. The least the girls are expected to do is make it to Carnegie Hall. Amazingly enough, Sophia does. Chua’s daughters are so successful—once, it’s true, Sophia came in second on a multiplication test (to a Korean boy), but Chua made sure this never happened again—that they confirm her thesis: Western mothers are losers. I’m using the term “losers” loosely.