This morning I read three different articles about the scholastic success of Asian students as opposed to the poor results of many American kids. The University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Cornell, and Stanford boast about 1/4 of their top students are Asian. For the University of California at Berkley nearly 1/2 are Asian. 47% of Asians over 25 hold Bachelor’s degrees (compared to 27% overall), the median income for Asians is $10,000 higher than the median incomes of other ethnic groups, and 16% of Asians hold advanced degrees (compared to 9% overall).
At about the same time these statistics were published there were two books that hit the market about how Asian parents raise such high achieving children. The first one was Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, in which she audaciously claims that if American parents would follow her iron-fisted “Chinese mother” approach, their kids would be straight-A, concerto-playing, super-achievers like her two daughters. And the second was Bitter Melon, Cara Chow’s novel about a teenager girl coming-of-age under the thumb of a controlling, high-expectations immigrant mother. It explores the psychological dilemmas, and damage, that can result from extreme Chua-style parenting.