You may have heard of Amy Chau, and her new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. If so, that’s probably due to the excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago. The headline was “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.” Here’s a quote.

Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best.

My wife, who is Chinese, drew my attention to the WSJ piece. It upset her. Her views on parenting differ from the views presented in the excerpt. So do my views.

In the car today, I had the radio tuned to NPR (WAMU, to be specific), as I usually do. Amy Chau was on the Diane Rehm show. That spot shows that the book is to a large extent about how Amy Chau rethought her parenting style.

This is a story about media, as well as about parenting. Here are some headlines I could have used for this story/post.

  • WSJ shows only one side of a story.
  • WSJ and NPR show different sides of the same story.
  • Guardian writer lazily mistakes WSJ excerpt for book.

The trouble with the above headlines is that none of them is surprising. I wish that the last one was surprising. But there is an article in today’s Guardian that seems to mistake the WSJ excerpt for the book, and even for the author herself. The Guardian article is open for reader comments, and many of them based on the assumption that it’s fine to insult an author based on a Guardian account of a WSJ article.

Confession time. I haven’t read the book either. I did think unkindly of Amy Chau on the basis of an excerpt in the WSJ, which appeared under a headline almost certainly provided by a WSJ staffer, rather than by the author of the words selected to appear under the headline.

Perhaps, as we move from January 1 to Chinese new year (of the rabbit, not of the tiger, by the way), a resolution to cut back on jumping to conclusions about people might be in order.

Au Revoir, Live Mocha

March 21, 2008

I mentioned Live Mocha about a month ago. The language learning aspect of the site isn’t working for me. There are multiple reasons for this, most of them arising from me such as: lack of time; laziness; feeling that, if I’m going to learn Chinese, I should do so with my daughter.

The only thing I don’t like about the site itself is that Live Mocha seems to think that fat is a priority among adjectives; it’s featured in the very first lesson.

I’ve just canceled my account. I say au revoir rather than adieu to Live Mocha because it has a few things going for it. The social networking side of it seems pretty active; I got quite a few friend requests, although some of them looked to be from “collectors” rather than “connectors.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 107 other followers