Tiger Mums vs Soccer Mums

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A change in education beliefs have led to a clash between 2 radically different parenting styles.

A shift in education practices in a high-achieving school district near Princeton, New Jersey have led to a clash between "Tiger Mums" and "Soccer Mums".

CCTV news reported on the harsh debate that was formed due to the different approaches the 2 types of parents have towards education.

"Soccer Mums" have been used to stereotype North American middle-class suburban mums who spend her time bringing her kids to soccer games.

"Tiger Mums", the term originating from Amy Chua‘s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, broadly refers to Asian mums, who are strict, fierce and places extra importance on grades.

The conflict was sparked by a letter from school district's superintendent David Aderhold. In it, he questioned the school's focus on achievement, stating that it places students under undue pressure, even making some of them physically ill. Aderhold proposed initiatives that would be less achievement-oriented and placing less stress on students.

Aderhold's initiatives include "no-homework nights" and the removal of mid-term and final examinations.

The balance between academic and non-academic achievements have been in question for a long time, with both sides having strong proponents.

It was reported that the "soccer mums" back Aderhold's move that shifts the focus away from an achievement-focused education. Mums such as Catherine Foley state that “My son was in fourth grade [aged 9] and told me, ‘I’m not going to amount to anything because I have nothing to put on my résumé,’” leading to her belief that the district's atmosphere that places increasingly amounts of pressure on students is detrimental and damages children's learning.

On the other hand, parents such as Mike Jia argues that such reforms will just be a "dumbing down" of his children's education. One of the thousands of Asian-American professionals who have moved into the neighborhood in the past decade, Jia argues that “What is happening here reflects a national anti-intellectual trend that will not prepare our children for the future”.

Regardless of the arguments presented, schools from the district have achieved in the academic fields, with 2 communities having 16 seniors going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Other achievements include students becoming Science Olympiad winners, achieving perfect SAT scores and ending up as classically trained musicians.

Proponents of Aderhold's initiatives have lamented that such achievements come at the cost of nurturing the "social-emotional development" of the children.

In the previous school year, 120 students were recommended for mental health assessments with 40 being hospitalised.

On the other hand, parents who believe in the importance of getting achievements believe these recent changes will damage their children’s chances.

These parents, being huge supporters of current programs such as the competitive instrumental music program, the advanced mathematics program, and a state program that permits them to take summer classes off campus for high school credit, feel that the loss of such emphasis on achievements will reduce their children's opportunities.

Both "Tiger" and "Soccer" mum approaches have proven to be successful with the use of examples such as Mark Zuckerberg or the fast development of Asian countries. So, when it comes to education and raising children, we can only be sure that there is no one single ideal way to raise your child.

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