I could go on and on with the grammar, but I would like to close with one last piece of advice with which some of you may agree or disagree. It is clear that the parents in China aim high and push their children very hard. The competition is fierce and the kids seem to go along with it in a cheerful, dedicated way that you wouldn't often find in America. It is admirable, and the results speak for themselves. In the United States, kids with an Asian upbringing or background, easily outscore all competition.


But I think that it can come at a price and ultimately run the risk of turning into something counterproductive. For example, some of the students were able to produce representative essays for high level writing competitions, but others were simply out of their league.The winning essays were clearly composed by GRADUATE STUDENTS. How can you expect a 10 year old to manage a paper like that? The kids start out with enthusiasm and then run the gamut from stupefied to frustrated to indifferent. Why throw them to the wolves like that, unless the idea is to somehow add to the ‘resume’ of things attempted.

但我认为这样得激进可能会付出代价,并最终有适得其反的风险。例如,一些学生能够写出不错的能参加高水平写作比赛的文章,但其他学生则完全不合格。 获奖文章显然是由研究生撰写的。你怎么能指望一个 10 岁的孩子能写出这样的文章呢?孩子们满腔热情开始,然后感到震惊,接着觉得沮丧,最后不了了之。为什么要这样残酷对待孩子?除非你只是想把这个经历是以某种方式添加到你简历上’尝试过的事情’这一栏。

The other suggestion I would make is to accept that for certain novels, extensive background information is necessary. If you are going to have your kids read To Kill a Mockingbird, there must be a deep awareness of extreme racism during that “Jim Crow’ era of the mid-century American South. If the assignment is Grapes of Wrath, you need to know the plight and diabolical treatment of immigrant grape-pickers and field hands during the American Depression. The name Caesar Chavez must ring a bell. The Prince and the Pauper? You need to know how it was in King Henry’s reign including conditions for the impoverished street urchins and the children of noblemen and women. Tom Sawyer? The Mississippi Delta before the Civil War. Without comprehension of time and place, social milieu and what are now often considered noxious anachronisms (slavery, the sunservient role of women, etc) but which were considered  standard behavior ‘back then’, you are simply falsifying the novel. This is why, you cannot remove the word “nigger” from Huckleberry Finn and replace it with ‘African-American.’ It would be LUDICROUS.

我要提出的另一个建议是要认识到对于某些小说,广泛的背景知识是必要的。如果您要让您的孩子阅读《杀死一只知更鸟》,那么你必须对在本世纪中叶美国南部的“吉姆克劳”时代的极端种族主义有深刻的认识。如果你要读《愤怒的葡萄》,你需要了解美国大萧条期间移民葡萄采摘者和劳工的困境和恶魔般的待遇。Caesar Chavez(美国劳工领袖)这个名字你肯定要知道。《王子与乞丐》?

你需要知道亨利国王统治时期的情况,包括贫困的街头顽童和贵族的孩子的条件。《汤姆·索亚》?那你得了解内战前的密西西比三角洲。如果不了解时间和地点、社会环境以及现在通常被认为是有害的时代错误(奴隶制、妇女的屈从地位等),但这些在“当时”都被认为是标准行为,那么你只是在篡改小说。这就是为什么,你不能从 “Huckleberry Finn” 中删除“nigger”这个词并用“African-American”代替它。这将是荒谬的。

It also helps to know something about the authors. Who was Jane Austin and what was her station in the world of England of her day? What kind of guys were  Hemingway and Edgar Allan Poe? Academics usually object (Strictly the text, the text, TEXT!!) but this is nonsense which defies common sense. To understand and appreciate great literature, you must know something about the time and place, the men and women, and children, who were alive back then. If they believed in witches and warlocks, you have to accept that and try to get into their heads. I teach my history students the same thing. Want to know something about Medieval history and literature? Then take the leap of faith and try to see the world through their eyes. Don’t stand on some politically correct 21st century soapbox and try to judge them. They were who they were.


如果他们相信女巫和术士,你必须接受这一点并尝试理解他们的思维。我教我的学生历史也是这样的。想了解中世纪历史和文学吗?那么你得越过你的信仰,尝试通过他们的眼睛看世界。不要站在一些21世纪通行的政治正确的 基础上并试图评判它们。他们就是他们。

Dear Chinese Parents, I will conclude by saying that I am blessed and very lucky to be having this great experience with your children and, indirectly, You. In this paper, I have tried to touch on some of the big issues in a fair but perceptive way. Not everyone will see it my way, nor should they. But I have told you what I think I know, certainly what I believe. I welcome any and all feedback.









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