What Do Tiger Mothers and Tiger Educators Have in Common?

This is from Ann Althouse about children coming of age between the 1950′s through the 1970′s.


“I am a child of the 1970s. What that means, in short, is that my childhood summer vacations were spent…”

“… languishing in front of the TV watching Phil Donahue and eating Boo Berry until my skin turned purple. Nobody cared if I read. Nobody cared if I wore sunscreen, or pants. I was like a house cat; my parents barely even knew if I was still living with them or whether I had moved in with the old lady down the street who would put out a bowl of food for me. In the ’70s, parenting was like a combination of intense crate-training and rumspringa, so I would typically spend June through September burnt to a crisp and wandering listlessly around the city, verging on scurvy.” Writes Samantha Bee, who’s now got 3 little kids and is tired of today’s overachieving “tiger mother” style of parenting.

I did my childhood summers in the 1950s and 60s, and I can tell you my parents did not get the slightest bit involved in my activities. There was a community pool that we had tags to get into if we felt like going. We had bikes. What we did with these things was entirely up to us, and there wasn’t a word of criticism if we chose to watch TV all day or a hint of praise if we read books or went outside. My parents never made the slightest show of putting any effort into good parenting. Looking back, I can discern that they had some principles that they stuck to, but these principles were things like self-reliance and personal autonomy, so it was hard to notice, and they didn’t pontificate about these principles, which I’m only inferring they had.

The phrase of the mother being tired of the “tiger mother” style of parenting got me thinking; as parenting styles have changed through the decades, how have the educational practices changed from the 1950′s through the 1970′s? What do you remember about your schooling that seems to be radically different from today’s method of education?

I looked in my elementary school yearbook and was stunned to discover each class had at least 34 students per classroom! There are concerns about such a large class student population in today’s schools as teachers and parents believe their children cannot receive a solid education with such a class size.

I don’t know what has happened to many of my classmates, but I know many have successful careers in engineering, law, business, writing, nursing, and owning their own businesses. I remember we were ability grouped in reading and English. We had no peer groups to work on our “self esteem”. In fact, I don’t remember any adults who actively worked on student self-esteem issues. I believe the adults thought if we were successful in school, that would bolster our self-esteem. We earned it by hard work in school and doing our best.

Now districts utilize peer groups to help the children talk about their feelings and conflict resolution classes. What has changed so dramatically in just a few decades that we now have to have classes and interventions so children can feel good about themselves? We felt pretty good about ourselves with not much adult involvement or direction. We weren’t subjected to endless assessments to satisfy federal mandates as the DOE did not exist.

Perhaps education was approached as parenting was in the 1950′s -1970′s…the children were given a framework in which to operate but they weren’t analyzed to the nth degree or given excessive homework that leave students stressed and sleep-deprived. Does the move to fit all students, districts and states into a one-size fit all model (common core standards) create more headaches for administrators, teachers and most importantly…students? Has the increased pressure on students created more pressure on parents to become “tigers”?

What do you think? Is the constant attention to children by tiger mothers and tiger educators (educators obsessed with increased testing and assessments) helping or hindering students?