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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:30pm
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PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 11:08am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 11:08am

Tiger Mom Amy Chua's frightening new recipe for success

Kelly Yang says Amy Chua has it wrong in her new book about success: a sense of superiority and insecurity don't get us very far in life

Amy Chua is at it again, this time with a new book called The Triple Package, which is already racking up criticism for being out of line and "full-blown racist". In her book, co-authored with her husband Jed Rubenfeld, Chua argues that eight groups are superior to others in America. They are: Chinese, Jews, Indians, Iranians, Lebanese-Americans, Nigerians, Cuban exiles and Mormons. What these groups all have in common is a three-part recipe for success: a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control.

The fact that certain people believe they are superior is a good thing, according to Chua. Such a superiority complex is especially advantageous if it is coupled with deep-seated insecurity.

This logic is disturbing. What Chua says about race - including the claim that African-Americans surrendered their chance of success because the civil rights movement destroyed all feeling of superiority - is simply preposterous.

Her cocktail for success is frightening. Students who feel they are better than everyone else can ruin a class. I've come across many such students in Hong Kong over the years and it always takes a long time to undo the damage.

One of the worst things a parent can tell a child is that he or she should automatically expect to be the best - and, yet, this is something many Asian children are told. Its impact is far-reaching; at best, a superiority complex prevents students from working hard. At worst, it prevents them seeing what's great in other people - a tragedy far worse than a low IQ.

That's because success today is no longer defined by who has the best grades. Rather, it's about doing well after school. The most successful people I know did not get where they are by acting superior. They got there by working well with others, communicating effectively and being liked.

To better understand what it takes for children to do well, I recently read Paul Tough's How Children Succeed. Tough pinpoints key non-cognitive skills which are just as important as brainpower - skills like perseverance, self-control, curiosity, consciousness, grit and self-confidence. As parents, we are critical when it comes to cultivating such self-confidence.

One of the most important lessons from the book is that if we are responsive parents who are available for our kids, we can offset the damage of surrounding stress that we can't control, including poverty.

So, it's surprising to hear Chua saying that insecurity is the key to success. Insecurity runs contrary to grit, the notion put forth by Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania, that the ability to focus on a task without letting setbacks get in the way is the single best predictor of success. Kids with grit are incredibly secure.

The only thing I agree with Chua on is self-control. This absolutely governs success. Yet, self-control is not only lacking in children; many adults struggle with it, simply because it is so hard to resist temptation - the temptation to perhaps write an incendiary, racist, yet no doubt lucrative, book.

Kelly Yang is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, an after-school programme for children in Hong Kong. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Law School. kelly@kellyyang.com

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keresearch
funny how if these races are so superior that they allowed the Greeks, the Romans, the Spanish, the British, and now the US to effectively run the world for long periods of time
keresearch
i may be ignorant but I cant see the Chinese, Jews, Indians, Iranians, Lebanese-Americans, ****ians, Cuban exiles and Mormons in your list
HK_eh!
i haven't read Amy's book but obviously what succeeds in the USA is sensationalism.
if she wants attention and money, then no doubt she's successful, who says what she writes has to be true?
the better question, is why are people paying attention to her and giving her the opportunity to present her "incorrect" theory?
maybe all part of the dumbing down of the world.
whoaman
This just shows me that this Chua woman thinks she is obviously superior to most people, especially writing such an 'authoritative' book based on her 'expertise', wherever she got it...lol. I wouldn't waste a cent on this woman's drivel.
dunndavid
Chinese-Americans make the top 8 but Japanese-Americans and Korean-Americans do not? Hmm...... I do know that in recent years Korean-Americans had the highest rate of entrepreneurs for any ethnicity in the U.S. Still I think it is probably a mistake to take Chua too seriously. Too me she reminds me of the "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" guy, John Gray. Chua has developed a well-recognized label for her ideas. (i.e. Tiger Mom) My guess is that professionals don't take her at all seriously but still she may be able to make a lot of money from provocative but unserious ideas, much as John Gray did.
jbperez808@yahoo.com
The photo for this article - with the air quotes - is quite appropriate, because Amy Chua [apparently] seems to have this tongue-in-cheek way of making otherwise very sensible points that always sound controversial on the surface. Observe the way she explains her way out of the controversies generated by her earlier book - "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom" youtube.com/watch?v=egCSy29RzmU Brilliantly executed, wouldn't you agree?
I wouldn't know what "Tiger Mom"'s actual message is, since I haven't bothered to read it, heh, but I am truly impressed by Amy's after-the-fact explanatory prowess.
patrick.gifford.180
Jews are not all racially white, Sefarad Jews are North african and middle east jews , while the Ashkenaz Jews are those from Eastern europe/Russian descent , not to mention others jewish Communities in east africa Ethiopia, soudan etc etc
jbperez808@yahoo.com
And by the way, lest anyone thinks I'm trying to diss Amy with the above, I actually find her very impressive and every bit adorable.
ace45954
You're clearly ignorant. The Greeks were an insignificant speck compared to other civilizations that existed at the time. Rome came nowhere near to ruling the world. India's economy was twice the size of Rome's (both countries had roughly the same population at the time). China's economy was also larger than Rome's (and again both countries had roughly the same population at the time). Up until the 1600s Europe was not at the top. Marco Polo for example wrote about how advanced China was compared to Europe. Also, if Europe was always at the top why'd they lose the Crusades so badly?
pslhk
the economist jan 11
"who is a jew?"

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