I received this book last December, right before our Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas cruise holiday.
So after having spent some time reading the book since, here’s what I think.
But first, I must clarify that when I read parenting books, there are two things I particularly like – honesty in the tone and a tips/ recap section (having both would be totally awesome) after each chapter.
Does this book have both? It does, because Maya Thiagarajan writes from a personal perspective – that of a mother and a teacher who has lived and worked in both the United States and Asia, and has been teaching at an international school in Singapore when she moved here with her family in 2010. And each chapter ends with a “How to” section, offering parents research-backed suggestions to aid their children’s development, both within and beyond the classroom.
Being well-acquainted with Western and Asian approaches to parenting and education – and their stark differences – she synthesises both in her book, bringing together the best of the East and West.
In particular, I like that she’s honest about her views and here’s an instance where she shares her thoughts about memorisation, that it is, “[d]espite print literacy and Google memorization, …, still valuable”. After a discussion about research on this matter as well as exam systems, I like her conclusion:
“Having looked long and hard at education systems that both emphasize and de-emphasize memory work, I have decided that when it comes to learning, both traditional educators who revere memory and progressive educators who sun memory in favor of discovery-based learning and conceptual learning are right. Students need to know factual information – not as an end in itself, but as a beginning. They need it so that they can analyze, critique, synthesize and apply what they know, and even more importantly so that they can begin pushing the boundaries of what is known and imagining, discovering and inventing.”
This precedes the TIPS for parents section where she gives practical suggestions (based on research and personal experience) about How to help your child memorize information and How to encourage critical thinking skills.
Here’s a snapshot of the content page so you can see that she really does deal with the key areas where the East and West differ in perspectives and philosophies. This is not just a book that offers you insights into differences, but one that shows you how you can make those become strengths and more importantly, get to know your child (and yourself) more in the process.
If you like what you see, you can get your own copy from all leading book stores in Singapore. It retails at S$24 (price before GST).
About the Author
Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the book for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received.