When was the last time you read a book about education and parenting that really had you thinking and making changes to the way you do things in your home? Beyond The Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age has had this affect on me!
I was so excited when my hardbacked copy arrived in the post from Tuttle Publishing hot off the press. I’d been waiting to get my eyes on it since they asked if I was interested in reviewing it. We’ve loved their children’s books we’ve reviewed, so I had high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.
About the author
Beyond The Tiger Mom by Maya Thiagarajan has been one interesting read. Maya grew up in India, spent 15 years in the USA during university and her early teaching career and then moved to Singapore where she and her family have been since. She has a unique perspective about the education systems in both the East and the West. Having both lived and taught in both locations, she has a deep understanding not only of how the education systems are set up, but also in how the parenting styles are different.
About the book
A lot of this book compares the East and the West. Not in a negative way, but ways in which parents and schools raise their children and their beliefs in how to create a successful child and society. She then gathers the best ideas from both cultures and gives us actionable ways in which we can implement these into our own parenting styles and home environments so that our children can have the best of both worlds.
In the East, math is seen as the most important subject as it is the most easily graded subject. Either an answer is correct, or it isn’t. It’s very objective. Right from birth, parents in the East set up their homes to be rich in math with toys, games, and activities all focussed around math skills.
In the West, literacy is seen to be the top priority. Babies and children may receive books from government-funded organisations, reading to children each day is seen as very important. Homes are set up with personal libraries, children are encouraged to read at ever-younger ages, and being creative is looked upon favourably.
An interesting point was that in the West parents feel guilty of pushing their kids too much academically, whereas in the East parents feel guilty of not pushing their kids enough. I feel caught up in this myself on weeks when I feel we haven’t done either enough home education, or we’ve done so much that the I feel the children haven’t had enough time to play and have fun. It is comforting to know, however, that parents around the world all carry guilt about the way their children are raised. We all have a common goal: we want our children to live up to their full potential and at the same time have a satisfying and happy life.
In the East the culture is for children to revere their elders and treat them with respect. In the West, the culture is much more child-centred.
There were some male/female differences that were noticed in the East as well as the West in regards to math and science. However, Maya thinks that this difference could be down to the toys that children play with when they are younger. You may see this when boys are given toys such as Lego and girls are given dolls to play with. Dolls are nurturing, which is important, but using Lego-type toys will help foster math and engineering skills.
I enjoyed the way that Maya has boxed out quotes from some of her friends and acquaintances. Adding real experiences adds a lot to the book. And I love the sections where she separates her suggestions for ways in which to improve the way we create atmospheres for our children.
My thoughts after reading Beyond The Tiger Mom
Reading this book has had me thinking about the way we’re raising our children. I’ve always been aware of gender-specific toys and made an effort not to segregate my children with them. Tristan is welcome to carry a doll in a sling (like he saw Daddy do with our daughter), and Kallista loves playing with Lego and light saber just as much as her brother. So I’m off to a good start in this area.
Now that I’ve read Beyond The Tiger Mom (affiliate link) and had a little while to let the information sit in my mind, I want to read it again. There’s so much information I’m certain I’ll get a deeper understanding and more to think about with a second reading. And this time I’m going to underline key phrases and take more notes. This is one book that I’ll be keeping and referring to as the children grow. Maya has also included many resources that I can seek out and read for more background information.
One of the reasons I was keen to read this book was that I spent my first 29 years in Canada, achieving a bachelor of Arts (honours), as well as a certificate in Admin. I flew off to Japan for two years to teach English in a private school and I learned about the schedules and pressures that students there were under to get into university, sometimes even before they began formal schooling. It was often said that high school was much tougher than university because of the pressure and study load.
My next move was to Northern Ireland (United Kingdom), where the system is again different, and so much emphasis is placed on standardized testing right from the age of 4. A test taken at the age of 11 determines whether you will be going to university or following a different path.
Seeing the education systems across continents is one of the reasons I wanted to homeschool our children. I often feel conflicted about what I’m doing….is it too much, is it not enough, are the children learning the ‘right’ things?
Whether your children are in a public, private, homeschool, or other form of education, there are things that can be learned from this book.
If you’d like to purchase your own copy, you can get it directly from Tuttle Publishing, or via the Amazon (affiliate) links below: