Amy Chua, better known as the “Tiger Mom”, is set to launch an after-school enrichment center in Singapore which draws upon her popular — and much-criticized — philosophy toward parenting and education.
The Keys Academy recently opened in the city, offering six tuition classes that hope to help secondary school and junior college students gain acceptance at the university of their choice through enrichment activities and guidance in the admissions process.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” 52-year old Chua, who is one of four advisers to the center, told CNBC on Thursday. “I like that Keys Academy preserves the hard core ‘you need to know the basics, and there’s no way around that hard work.’ But, [it equally focuses on] personal communication skills, how can you be interesting and dynamic, because that’s really what it takes now.”
A recent survey of 500 families in Singapore show 70% of parents in the city-state enroll their children in private tuition lessons, spending upwards of 1 billion Singapore dollars (about $700 million USD) each year on extra classes in the hopes of helping to increase their child’s grades, writes Ansuya Harjani for CNBC.
While Chua’s parenting style is widely accepted in Singapore, it has been met with controversy in the United States, as she received death threats after The Wall Street Journal published a 2011 opinion piece written by her titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”
Here’s a taste of the WSJ article: “If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.”
The release of her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” later the same year saw a similar reception as a number of people took it to be a portrayal of the cruel treatment her daughters endured under her care.
In her book, Chua noted how her daughters were not allowed to participate in activities like sleepovers or school plays, nor were they allowed to watch television. Instead, she expected them to earn A’s in every subject except for gym and drama. She wrote that parents should be honest with their children and require them to reach their goals rather than protect their ego.
Chua, however, maintained that the book was not meant to be a how-to guide. “It’s a memoir, a story of our family’s journey in two cultures, and my own eventual transformation as a mother . . .”
The Keys Academy does not currently have plans to open locations in any other country.