A Good Mother is Better Than a Good Teacher – 好妈妈胜过好老师

I read this Chinese book that another mother recommended on her blog, <<好妈妈胜过好老师>>. It’s written by a Chinese teacher talking about her experiences in raising her own daughter and what she believes are good practices in bringing up a child with good attitude and character.

I agree with her philosophy though there are some things that I do not agree with of course, like when she recommends letting kids read 古文, an old form of written Chinese instead of modern Chinese. My Chinese is pretty decent but I never liked the 古文 that they made us memorize in secondary school in Malaysia. I guess this is mostly cultural because we don’t have need to have such scholarly proficiency in Chinese. To be honest, no one even writes that way anymore. That’s the equivalent of saying I should read Shakespeare to Calvin and hope he’ll learn how to use the words ‘thee’ and ‘thou’.

There were many things that I agree with though, like how she says studying should be kept fun and parents shouldn’t obsess over things like scores and ranking. What is more important is to focus on whether the child is learning. I think it is similar to the Western theory about giving praise to the process and not the outcome/ person. E.g. ‘You really worked hard to learn to ride the bike’ as opposed to ‘Good girl’, ‘Great job’. I’ve been working hard on that for a while and I’d like to think I’ve improved. I’ve been trying to point out how he has worked hard on putting on his socks and he’s much faster now because of the practice etc. I’m thinking of taking it one step further with a little notebook for all his good ‘deeds’. This is a suggestion from the book that I thought was worth trying out. She calls it the ‘记功簿‘, where you record the good things your child has done and also emphasize their efforts on things you hope they will improve on. I’m not sure if Calvin will take to it, but there’s no harm trying 😛 I started it today and he was interested in putting the little sticker stars in and he also remembered what I praised him for. I think maybe the biggest benefit of this is that I’m more focused on the positive side of what he does and helps me to be more zen, especially when I’m tired and grumpy.

I also liked how she emphasizes the importance of reading. It’s a little contradictory to what she said about reading classics to your kid, because she also says it’s okay for children to read any kind of book as long as the writing is not trashy and the values are not dubious I would guess? As I said, I’ve always thought that children who read widely can’t do that poorly academically. And J is a good example of having good English despite reading mostly non-classic, popular science fiction/ fantasy books and those choose your own adventure books. I personally read a lot of popular fiction and trashy romance novels, albeit I also put in conscious effort to read classics and award winners. I think we’ll probably let him read whatever he likes unless it’s not age appropriate.

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One Response to “A Good Mother is Better Than a Good Teacher – 好妈妈胜过好老师”

  1. e* Says:

    Yeah, I also ‘praise’ Baby-Ao when he fails to roll over, but makes the effort to, during tummy time.
    It’s weird that he gets frustrated quite easily now during tummy time – I think because he tries to roll and sometimes fails (he’s wearing cloth nappies, which are pretty bulky and make it quite difficult) – whereas in the past he was quite happy just doing mini push-ups and looking around.
    I wish he’d just relax and chill out. So if he starts crying after trying to roll and failing, I hug and ‘praise’ him as well, because I think the effort counts and he shouldn’t get agitated over failing.

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