Call it the revenge of the Tiger Mom.
Last year, when Tiger Mom Amy Chua dared to admit that she had taught her daughters the value of hard work and perseverance, the outcry was immediate and anguished.
The enemies of the Protestant, or Confucian, work ethic came out in force to denounce her as an abusive mother.
So-called experts, armed with documentary films helped disseminate a new concept. America’s children were overworked and underplayed… or something like that.
If American children are chronic underachievers, if they are underperforming compared to their peers in other countries, if they do not know enough math and science to compete for high tech jobs, the reason must be that they did not know how to have fun.
That is what was passing for enlightened opinion for the opponents of the work ethic.
But the problem was not just limited to the American way of parenting. The educational establishment has been hard at work inculcating the value of sloth.
Since everyone now believes that American schoolchildren are being tortured by homework, everyone has been surprised to discover that the children themselves believe that their schools are not working them hard enough.
Teachers have managed to dumb down the educational experience to the point where children are not being challenged. Who knew?
The progressive Center for American Progress reports the findings:
You might think that the nation’s teenagers are drowning in schoolwork. Images of sullen students buried in textbooks often grace the covers of popular parenting magazines, while well-heeled suburban teenagers often complain they have to work the hours of a corporate lawyer in order to finish their school projects and homework assignments. But when we recently examined a federal survey of students in elementary and high schools around the country, we found the opposite: Many students are not being challenged in school.
Consider, for instance, that 37 percent of fourth-graders say that their math work is too easy. More than a third of high-school seniors report that they hardly ever write about what they read in class. In a competitive global economy where the mastery of science is increasingly crucial, 72 percent of eighth-grade science students say they aren’t being taught engineering and technology, according to our analysis of a federal database.
The report does not explain how this happened, but it is not all that mysterious. For some time now schools have not been in the education business. They have been in the therapy business.
They are more concerned about a child’s self-esteem than about whether he learns anything.
They imagine that when some children perform at a very high level it can only make the underachievers feel badly about themselves.
It never seems to have crossed their rather limited minds that excellence and success are good things, worth emulating. They seem to believe that one child’s success can only have occurred at another child’s expense. Thus, perhaps unbeknownst to themselves, they dumb down the curriculum in a vain effort to make other children feel better.
It’s the academic version of income redistribution: you dumb down the best students in the hopes that their exceptional talents will be redistributed to those less well endowed.
Thereby the brightest students are being punished while the lesser students receive grades that they did not earn.