Do British Chinese children get more pressured into studying harder than their white counterparts?
Work hard and get a good education: this is the mantra many Chinese parents followed when they were younger and want their children to adhere to as well. In China and other East Asian countries, a high percentage of children are not only encouraged to do their best at school, but also have private tuition lessons and take up extra curricular activities. And that is not so different for British Chinese children too.
Competitiveness among the Chinese is very strong and when you’re a parent you want the best for your child; you hope they get good grades but are of course even prouder if they get the top grades in their class. In school, pressure is on children to excel and those who do are praised and usually favoured by the teachers, while those who fall behind are sometimes singled out or subject to stricter teaching methods and do not build such a good rapport.
Private tuition is a very popular option that Chinese parents go for, particularly in the core subjects like Maths, English and Science. Some parents also want their children to be well rounded so they allow them to pursue an activity in the arts and pressure to play a musical instrument such as piano and violin is on the up. Both private tuition and music lessons are not cheap with some tutors charging £20 per half hour in the UK. To high-earning Chinese people this might not be a lot but is one they’re willing to pay if their child does well. When it comes to sports, swimming, martial arts, dancing, gymnastics and badminton or tennis are the preferred options, as these focus on individual achievements more so than team sports do, such as football and rugby.
Although many children might not enjoy the tuition they have to do, most do not complain – often sticking to the Confucius idea that you should obey your parents and probably do not want to suffer humiliation or disappointment if they get bad grades. For the parents, their children’s success means they can save face when they compare them to others.
In Britain, learning Chinese at Chinese school on weekends is increasingly popular too. We have previously reported that parents are keen for their children to learn their mother tongue from when they’re as young as preschool age and so send them to schools to improve. And a Japanese company called Kumon is world famous for after school classes that help children improve in Maths and English. Kumon currently has nearly 700 centres in the UK and more than 70,000 students enrolled with them and 4 million worldwide.
In China, the education and enrollment system is known to be extremely tough, especially to get through different stages of the school system and more especially if children want to get into private or international schools and university, with more people applying than there are spaces available. While the British school system is not as stressful, entrance exams to private schools here can still be hard and Chinese pupils are usually among the highest percentage of those that get in compared to the Chinese population within that school’s area.
So why is it Chinese children are pressured more than their white counterparts? As we explained, China’s education system is tough and competition is therefore tougher, but the majority of White British people appear to be less focused on academic achievements. It would seem Chinese parents have certainly passed down their strict upbringing to their own children and some may argue that many White British parents are more carefree about what their children get up to at home, outside and in school.