Just Finished Reading: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother #books
I started begging my mother for piano lessons from a very young age, had my mother been a Tiger Mother I would have been a child prodigy. I’d seen Amy Chua in an interview program and had wanted to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as an instruction manual to raise my child as a music virtuoso. And although the book is not a step-by-step guide to becoming a Tiger Mother I am glad I read it.
The book is an autobiographical view of the way Amy Chua raised her daughters Sophia and Louisa (Lulu) to become straight A students, and focusses mainly on her teaching her children to play the musical instruments of her choice. In the end it devolves into a war of attrition between Amy and Lulu, resulting in a revelation for the Tiger Mother.
One thing I didn’t completely agree with in this book, and as the book Thinking, Fast and Slow shows, is that there is some outcome bias involved. The strategy – praise the good performance and punish the bad performance – seems to work well for Amy, it isn’t a perfect stratagem. It’s all due the regression to the mean. From the result that Amy had with Sophia, and Tiger Mothers seem to have in general, it looks like the stick and carrot work. And by looking at the results from Lulu you can see the regression to the mean.
This was a joyous moment, in which I understood an important truth about the world: because we tend to reward others when they do well and punish them when they do badly, and because there is regression to the mean, it is part of the human condition that we are statistically punished for rewarding others and rewarded for punishing them.
I’m probably a Tiger Mother, although I’m a Dragon and a father, like Jed I regret not continuing my piano lessons and want to help my children see what the benefits are of perseverance. As a child I can remember being much like Lulu, unlike her I persevered in not practicing. Perhaps I can give my children a different choice, even if it isn’t a choice.
Image source: Amazon