Temptations to Cruelty
By Bryan Caplan
The most bizarre thing about Amy Chua’s essay is that she combines contempt for drama with fanatical devotion to music. School plays are too frivolous for words:
[N]o Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, “I got a part in
the school play! I’m Villager Number Six. I’ll have to stay after
school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I’ll also need a
ride on weekends.” God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.
But virtuosity in the piano is worth three hours of daily practice:
[M]y Western friends who consider themselves strict make their children
practice their instruments 30 minutes every day. An hour at most. For a
Chinese mother, the first hour is the easy part. It’s hours two and
three that get tough.
I can at least understand claims that strict parenting is good because it leads to educational and financial success. But piano prizes? Why should we value such achievements any more highly than acting awards? They’re both financial dead ends, so kids should do them for fun or not at all.