Harvard Girl: Liu Yiting, Yale Girl and From Andover to Harvard are only a few of the “how I got my child into an Ivy League school” parenting books that have popped up around China in the last decade. In the first widely acclaimed of these guides, Harvard Girl: Liu Yiting, her parents describe that when Liu was a child, they would make her hold an ice cube for as long as she could to build stamina. Liu was also told to practice jumping rope until she won a competition at school as well as complete her elementary school work in the noisiest part of the house to develop concentration abilities. A storm of similar books followed, snatched up by parents who believed parenting techniques that worked for the parents of “successful” students might work for their own children.
The one-sided knowledge of the aforementioned parenting tips (as well as Liu Yiting) has been ubiquitous in China ever since Harvard Girl was published in 2000. Until now.
Author Yin Jianli’s first book, A Good Mother Is Better Than a Good Teacher, published in January 2009 has been in the top three spots on China’s bestseller list almost every week since May 2009. A recent Wall Street Journal post about author Yin Jianli and her new found fame revealed some of the relatively unconventional parenting tips compared to other Chinese parenting advice that have made her book so popular.
A strong theme in Yin's book is encouraging parents to listen to what their children have to say, instead of implementing rules of their own accord. As a mother herself, she believed this would allow her daughter to feel more independent and empowered.
She also advised her daughter to sometimes question if her teacher’s decisions were the best way to go. When her daughter had to copy a Chinese character multiple times as a result of having gotten it wrong on a test, Yin offered to help her daughter copy them. She said, “The most important thing is to protect a kid’s interest in learning and to avoid linking learning to something unpleasant.”
In writing her book, Yin says she was influenced by foreign authors such as Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care as well as Emile by Rousseau. “From these good books one can learn how kids think, and the meaning of equality and respect,” she said.
Click here to read more about Yin Jianli and the events that led to write her book.
Photo by epSos.de of Flickr.