Panda Moms

Great article by Jeff Young in EdSurge:

But now, Xu and many others are questioning whether the style of parenting that stresses such rigorous and constant study is the best preparation for the world after college.

In fact, Xu says attitudes toward education are changing in China. The phrase ‘Tiger Mothers’ has been used to refer to parents who monitor children closely with high pressure to succeed.

But now, there’s a new class of parents in China who describe themselves with a softer label: Panda Moms. Xu says that means encouraging more creativity and self-exploration.

EdSurge sat down with Xu during the recent Global Education Technology summit in Beijing to ask about her ethnographic research into parenthood in China, and about what Americans can learn from the Chinese education experience.

You can read the whole thing here (or listen to the podcast).

For example:

Q: If people don’t want to be Tiger Moms anymore, what is it now?

Well, we call them Panda Moms. Panda Moms are these type of people who are like, “I don’t want that pushing too hard for my kids. I want them to be their own people.”

We actually interviewed parents who will classify themselves as Panda Moms. One said, “[My kid] loves drawing.” So they put her into a drawing after-school class but the teacher was teaching in a very regulated way, saying to the students, just copy the drawing in certain ways. And the parent says: “I quit that class because I don’t want my kid to lose their own creativity.”

And I was like, “That’s amazing.”

Q: You’re saying that’s very different from the way you grew up?

That’s very different. Exactly. [Parents today are saying], “I just want them to enjoy it.”

And then at the same time, [that mother] is so anxious. She tells us, “I’m consciously building up my own social network with parents like me so that we can support each other. Because otherwise I will get bombarded by all the people who are Tiger Moms, who are like, ‘My kid is now in third grade and he can do a fifth grade test.’”

Q: So it’s in transition, maybe?

It’s overwhelming, and it’s very confusing. If you are parents in China, it’s a very tough job.

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