The importance of rote memory in Asia and everywhere else

The battle over school testing continues. As I’ve said many times, I think that standards are important. I think it’s good to rate students, and I think it’s great to rate teachers so that schools can promote the good ones and fire the bad ones. My oldest is going to undergo some Common Core testing this year, and while I can understand the nervousness that testing can create, it’s the right thing to do for public schools. Every child should have age-appropriate goals. Of course there should be a reasonable amount of testing–kids shouldn’t be tested every day, and schools shouldn’t waste three weeks on a single test because they don’t have computers–but the idea is right. Kids should be able to pass tests.

Real life vs. computer smoke (new addition to the bigWOWO lexicon)

I was scouring the web to find some good judo videos to help my son on his jiu-jitsu journey. He recently achieved a big personal milestone and has been excited about it. I was specifically looking for videos on o-soto gari, and I happened across the YouTube video above, in which an Asian American dude demonstrates a pretty powerful o-soto gari. I especially liked the video since it also shows a transition to sasae tsurikomiashi, the second of the only two throws my son currently knows. The video linked to the content creator’s totally awesome website:

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough (Review)


Paul Tough writes an interesting book on teaching kids to succeed. How Children Succeed is based on the idea that character often determines how children cope with the world, and that there are ways adults can best teach children the character traits that will enable them to do well in the world. Tough focuses on the poorest and neediest children in his interviews, but he also talks about how wealthy kids face the same issues on a lesser scale. His thesis is that character traits are often more important than IQ, and that having the “character” to strive and work will often make a person successful

Prestigious colleges begin to focus on careers

Credit: Matthew Pillsbury for The New York Times Andy Chan, Wake Forest's career-development guru.

Credit: Matthew Pillsbury for The New York Times
Andy Chan, Wake Forest’s career-development guru.

Coming off our podcast on jobs, Wake Forest University, a prestigious liberal arts, has hired Andy Chan as vice president in charge of the Office of Personal and Career Development. His goal? To teach liberal arts majors how to get a job. Here’s the article: How to Get a Job With a Philosophy Degree. This guy is serious business:

Chinese elites sending their kids to NYC prep schools

Photo credit: Ángel Franco/The New York Times

Photo credit: Ángel Franco/The New York Times

According to the NY Times, more and more wealthy Chinese are sending their kids to expensive New York City prep schools.

Yijia Shi, a freshman, wanted to increase her chances of an acceptance letter from Brown University. And Meng Yuan, a junior, was seeking Western-style independence, not to mention better shopping. When she is not heading to track practice or doing her homework, she is combing Bergdorf Goodman for Louis Vuitton limited edition handbags and relishing in the $295 tasting menu at the celebrated Columbus Circle restaurant Per Se.

New study says tiger parenting doesn’t work

Amy Chua (from Forbes article)

Amy Chua (from Forbes article)

There was an article in Forbes by a white woman named Susan Adams whose son goes to Stuy, where most of the kids are Asian: Tiger Moms Don’t Raise Superior Kids, Says New Study. She wrote the article and read Amy Chua’s Tiger Mom book because she questioned whether her kid would lose out to the Asian students. Now, according to the article, there is evidence that ought to allay her fear. Su Yeong Kim, a professor at the University of Texas, had been working on the same topic before Amy Chua’s book came out, and she has just published her results. According to her, Tiger parenting doesn’t work. The Forbes article says:

Cram schools no longer an Asian thing

Asian tutoring/test prep companies expanding into non-Asian neighborhoodsAccording to the NY Times, cram schools for test prep is no longer an Asian thing. Although many of these schools are run by Asians, more and more non-Asian kids are signing up. Not only are the non-Asian kids streaming in, but the businesses are adjusting their strategy to attract them:

Horizon, a well-reputed cram school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, known among Chinese-American families for funneling students into Stuyvesant High School and NEST+m, was recently rechristened Gifted Kids New York City. “It’s a little more appealing to Caucasian parents,” said the owner, Andrew Chan, who tells prospective parents from Park Slope and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that he is offering “Chinese rigor” with Western-style teaching methods.

China and her new college graduates/students

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Credit: Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

Two articles on college graduates/students in China recently came out in the NY Times.

There was this one from today, which says that college grads in China are turning down factory jobs, and that only 78% are employed, mostly because they want office jobs, and China doesn’t have many office jobs. According to the article, lots of grads turn down the jobs because these jobs lack prestige, or they’re seen as dead-end. The kids are able to turn them down because they’re only children with two parents to support them, thanks to the one child policy.

Chinese parents sending children to American private schools

Thanks, MLC, for sending this: How China’s New Love Affair with U.S. Private Schools is Changing Them Both.

I think private schools are a crazy expense, but I also think it makes sense for these Chinese parents to pay it–these schools are probably a lot more culturally accommodating than public schools, plus kids don’t have to deal with bureaucracy and classmates who don’t want to be there.

What Cultures Value

Thanks to Eurasian Sensation, who posted this article: The One-Shot Society. The article is about the educational system in Korea, where students cram like mad for one college entrance test, a test which determines the career that they will have for the rest of their lives. In Korea, as the article mentions, people rarely change jobs, so it’s imperative that students get into the best university and then into the best company. We’ve spoken about this trend in Korea and how it limits their opportunities to make decisions later in life, which is why many Koreans try to become doctors.