Phi Beta Cons

Tiger Moms and Government Schooling

An extremely hot topic for the last couple of weeks has been Yale law professor Amy Chua’s Wall Street Journal piece “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” Her claim is that her strict parenting methods lead to great educational results.

(Speaking of heat, she wrote a book entitled “World on Fire” a few years ago, arguing that economic liberalization combined with democracy unleashes violence. I found her book unpersuasive in this review.)

Back to the matter at hand. Jeff Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute offers here an insightful commentary on the question of effective education. The real distinction, he maintains, is between parents who take responsibility for ensuring that their children learn throughout their formative years, and those who are content to entrust it to government schooling.

Tucker is right on target with this observation: “As a culture, we’ve come to trust someone else to take on the essential responsibility of molding the next generation. The central plan has instilled a kind of parental lethargy. We let the state take over the core responsibilities from the age of 5 through 22, and then we are shocked to discover that kids leave college without a sense of work ethic, without marketable skills, and even without the ambition to succeed in the real world.”

In his SOTU, Obama exclaimed that “we need to out-educate the rest of the world.” What he means, alas, is that young Americans should be kept in formal schooling longer than are young people anywhere else in the world. Very little useful learning will come of that.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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