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A Beijing academic has said that he will stop pressuring his daughter over her academic performance after his tutoring methods left her depressed and anxious. Photo: Baidu

Chinese university professor complains ‘lower IQ’ daughter is ‘mediocre student’ due to poor primary school results in viral video

  • An associate professor at Peking University has complained online that his daughter is at the bottom of her class
  • He now says he has given up on his aggressive coaching methods as she has become depressed and anxious about her studies

A video of a Peking University professor complaining about his daughter’s poor academic scores has gone viral online, highlighting the anxiety many Chinese parents feel about their children’s education.

Ding Yanqing, an associate professor at the university’s Graduate School of Education, said on social media that his daughter, a pupil at Peking University Primary School, is at the bottom of her class in terms of academic performance.

“I tutored her every day. But she still finds it difficult to study. There is a big gap between her scores and that of the second-last student,” Ding said in a video he released last month on Douyin, which is known as TikTok outside China.

“I am at a loss: this is destiny. I can’t do anything about it,” Ding said. This video clip has received more than 1.7 million likes on the platform.

My daughter is definitely not a wonder child. Her IQ is far lower than both of us
Ding Yanqing

Ding said every day after he picks up his daughter from school, he takes her to his office to “force her to study or do homework”.

“During this time every day, everybody on the third floor where my office is located can hear the yelling and screaming from me or my daughter,” he said in the video.

PKU, one of the most prestigious universities in China, is ranked 23rd in QS Global World Rankings.

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The professor’s video has been viewed more than 460 million times on Weibo, with 45,000 comments left on the website.

“This is the reality of the world,” wrote one person.

“I am glad to see that even a PKU professor faces the same suffering as we ordinary parents,” another user commented.

It is common for mainland Chinese parents to place high expectations on their children to excel academically. Many parents in middle-class families expect their children to perform better than they did themselves.

Ding, who obtained his bachelor’s degree from PKU and received his PhD degree from Columbia University in New York, called himself a “wonder child” and claimed that he could memorise a Chinese dictionary by the time he was six. His wife also graduated from PKU.

“My daughter is definitely not a wonder child. Her IQ is far lower than both of us,” Ding said in the video on Douyin. “I have no choice but to accept this fact. What can I do if I don’t accept it?”


Pupils cheer for boy who achieved full marks in China

Pupils cheer for boy who achieved full marks in China

In another video clip, Ding said he has come to accept that he has a “mediocre” child.

“No matter how outstanding you are, your child may be just an ordinary person,” he said. “Acknowledging this point is helpful for everybody.”

Ding admitted it was 95 per cent likely that his daughter would not be able to achieve scores good enough to be admitted to PKU in the future.

The academic said he decided to give up his “high-pressure” methods to improve his daughter’s performance after finding that although she scored better, she had become anxious about her studies and was depressed.

Ding said every child is unique and parents should not use a single benchmark to measure them.

“Parents should identify their kids’ unique qualities in different aspects other than academic studies. They should find a path suitable for the kids to develop and assist them in that direction,” said Ding.

Homework ban for Chinese pupils sparks backlash online

Not everyone agreed with the academic’s decision to relax his daughter’s tutoring.

“You can say it, but I don’t buy it,” wrote one person on Weibo. “The sole factor for university enrolment is scores, the prerequisite to finding a decent job is diplomas and even hunting for a boyfriend or girlfriend involves checking the education background first.”

Chinese parents’ pressure on their children’s studies has led to intense competition among students.

Ding said he was shocked to hear that many students at the Peking University Primary School, where his daughter studies, had already grasped more than 1,000 English words.

“Years ago, a popular belief said that for a five-year-old kid, it’s enough for them to learn 1,500 English words if they live in America; but it’s not enough [for them to compete with their peers] if they live in the Haidian district of Beijing,” Ding said. “I thought it was a joke before. Now I realise it’s quite true.”

Haidian district, which is home to some of the country’s best universities including PKU and Tsinghua University, is among the most competitive areas for young students in China and is where the most elite primary and middle schools are located, said Ding.