Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wow! This is sad.

Psychology Today's article on the Plight of the Little Emperors is sobering. A result of China's one child policy is many parents focus all their attention on making sure their one child succeeds. They make great sacrifices to provide for their one child. They push the child to study. The opening paragraph of the article is:

When Dawei Liu was growing up in the coastal city of Tai'an during the 1990s, all of his classmates—95 percent of whom were only children—received plenty of doting parental support. One student, however, truly stood out from the rest. Every day, this boy went from class to class with an entourage of one: his mother, who had given up the income of her day job to monitor his studies full-time, sitting beside him constantly in order to ensure perfect attention. "The teacher was OK with it," Liu shrugs. "He might not focus as much on class if his parent wasn't there."

There is great pressure on these poor children. To get into a top kindergarten children need to know pi to 100 digits. (Why???) Many children are spending ten hours a day studying, from K to 12. The parents push them, direct them, and plan their days.

The result is depression and suicide has skyrocketed. Many children, once they leave home, are aimless. At college they'll stop showing up for classes, because mom isn't there to tell them to go to class. Many spend hours each day escaping into internet games.

As we've mentioned before, an education is important, but not the most important. Children need to know how to read, how to write, they need to understand history, know the sciences, and be exposed to art and literature. But more important than all those topics is character development. They need to be honest. They need to know how to work. And they need to be self driven.

It appears that many parents in China have focused on academic topics and ignored character development.


(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: children, government schools, public school, public education, education, China


Irene said...

Being Chinese-American, I can certainly sympathize with the plight of those Chinese children. One of the most annoying (and damaging) things my parents did when I was growing up was to constantly compliment other kids (in comparison to me) but never compliment me, only criticize my performance. One of the consequences of this was that I grew up feeling like my outward performance was more valued than my inward person. If I didn't have strong moral and spiritual values, I would have gone adrift like those students.

Henry Cate said...

You are right, that is a very damaging approach to child raising. One of the most important things parents can do is to love their children, and make sure their children know they are loved. Constant comparison and criticism only promotes distance, not closeness.

I'm glad you have survived.