Yesterday I remembered Amy Chua and her now infamous book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. My daughter started middle school and her assessment scores for courses’ placement didn’t turn out to be as high as we expected. Aside from questions on where that would take her in the process of learning and how it would affect her own self-esteem, I was suddenly faced with questions of my own… like:
- “What the &^$%$!”
- “She’s always been a stellar student, what’s going on here?”
- “How can she score worse than before – and worse than the other kids?”
- Etc, Etc, Etc…
And as I mulled it over, feeling embarrassed, let down, bitter, and confused, I noticed that my husband wasn’t as emotional about it as I was. I was ready to march into school and request to see the tests, I unearthed the KhanAcademy site and persuaded my daughter to spend an hour doing math (excellent resource, by the way!), and I spent more than just a few hours planning an intervention for what I felt was a failing student (now, mind you, it’s only been 2 days since the school started!).
Meanwhile my husband, as upset as the placements made him, wasn’t as emotional about the whole thing as I was. Yes, the results bothered him and yes, he wanted to investigate farther yet he wasn’t burning the midnight oil looking for tutoring resources and creating to-do lists on how to tackle this. So why was I so up in arms and why was he so nonchalant?
Then it dawned on me. Cultural differences. He is American and I am Russian-born. I grew up in a society where education was akin to religion and where being best among the best was a must for the intelligenzia children. My husband grew up with the motto – “as long as you do your best” whereas I grew up with the motto – “you only do your best when you are doing much better than most of the others”. And so having my almost-a-straight-A-student daughter placed into non-advanced courses definitely touched a nerve.
What have been your experience with your children’s education? Have you felt any differences in how you manage your kids’ education especially if you and your spouse hail from different cultures?
REMEMBER: if you coach, train, or consult people who work across cultures, consider joining us for the Culture Mastery Certification and License Program. We start September 21, 2011 and a discount is available to anyone who registers before September 7, 2011.