An editorial by Jonathan Kay in the National Post, published on Friday, argues that immigrants are turning Canada into a nation of ‘Tiger Moms’, a term that refers to demanding Chinese mothers who push her children to excel academically, due to the competition that immigrant students from Asian countries are giving to native born Canadian students:
But the issue is more fundamental than that: Competition from Asian students is coming to shape the parenting practices and scholastic expectations of millions of native-born Canadian parents.
It used to be that upwardly mobile native-born parents could count on getting any reasonably bright child into a good private school and university. Now, those children are in competition with Asian immigrants who spend their weekends drilling math and spelling-bee lists.
Kay describes how the phenomenon of status-focused immigrant students and their parents had affected his own wife and the parenting of their children:
For native-born Canadian parents, that’s a scary thing. Last year, my wife read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, and laughed at the author’s insanely Type-A mothering techniques. But when she put the book down, the first words out of her mouth were “Should we put our kids in piano lessons?”
And so we did. We also sent our youngest child to after-school reading lessons, even though I’m not sure she needed them. The competition from highly motivated immigrants is making stressed out Tiger Mothers of us all.
The article explains how this recent trend has a historical precedent in the increase in Jewish immigration and academic excellence in the early 20th century, as the Jewish proportion of the student bodies of prestigious American universities shot up, reaching 28% in Harvard and 40% in Columbia by 1925, alarming the WASP establishment which instituted quotas in reaction.
Quotas in this day and age wouldn’t be politically palatable, and in any case wouldn’t be ethical, writes Kay, as they would be racist and deny the children of immigrants, who were promised a better life in Canada, the opportunities available to other Canadians.
We can expect to see continued change in Canadian culture and in particular educational institutions, as the population of immigrants, a high percentage of whom are highly educated and expect their children to follow in their footsteps, increases by millions over the next few decades.