Posted Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011, at 11:46 AM
Photo by INGO WAGNER/AFP/Getty Images
Just as American parents are turning away from corporal punishment, a Chinese dad named Xiao Baiyou, aka the "Wolf Dad," is getting tons of attention for writing a book that was originally titled, Beat Them Into Peking University. This is, of course, appalling to many, and as NPR reports, the book's title has been changed to the less bombastic So, Brothers and Sisters of Peking University. To American ears, the moniker Wolf Dad harkens back to Amy Chua, the Chinese-American Tiger Mom whose book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, set off an insane firestorm of controversy when it came out earlier this year. In Tiger Mother, Chua calls her kids garbage when they don't obey her and teaches her daughters that being less than number one in any academic subject is unacceptable. This seems like a day at Disney World when compared to Baiyou's fathering techniques. According to the NPR story, Baiyou says:
I have more than a thousand rules: specific detailed rules about how to hold your chopsticks and your bowl, how to pick up food, how to hold a cup, how to sleep, how to cover yourself with a quilt. ... If you don't follow the rules, then I must beat you.
Unsurprisingly this method does not seem to have produced happy children. His son said that he doesn't think he had a childhood at all. But it did produce results: Three out of four of Baiyou's kids got into China's most-prestigous Peking University. The competition for a spot at a Chinese university is incredibly fierce and almost exclusively test-driven. As in the United States, a college education is often the key to soceital advancement. I suppose it's not that shocking that a guide professing to hold the secret to a better life for one's children is extremely popular. But the notion that there are parents who would start beating their children for covering themselves with a quilt the wrong way beacuse they read a book that told them to is a horrifying notion.