The International Herald Tribune has an interesting article about the phenomenon of Chinese parents’ efforts to send their kids to Ivy League schools – an aspiration that’s so widespread, it’s spawned an entire genre of books the subject.
Among the books mentioned is the title that inspired it all, Harvard Girl, which recounts some of the unconventional methods employed by Liu Yiting’s parents – i.e. having their daughter “hold ice in her hands” to improve endurance, making her jump rope everyday to help win a school contest, putting toys out of her reach when she was a baby, and having her study in the “noisiest parts of the house” to help improve concentration – all of which read like they came out of some kung fu flick.
Similar titles have ensued, each with slightly different takes on the steps their authors took to push their children to the top.
From a Western parent’s perspective, it’s interesting to see consider these very “Chinese” approaches to conditioning one’s kids to achieve. And though some psychologists may shirk at the idea of subjecting children to such extreme measures as melting chunks of ice in their hands to build endurance, it’s hard to deny their effectiveness. China’s one-child policy may have spawned a generation of “Little Emperors” and “Empresses,” but it seems that not all of them are being coddled in quite the same way.
Flickr photo by thor_matt8 published under the Creative Commons License.