SCMP: Chinese university professor complains ‘lower IQ’ daughter is ‘mediocre student’ due to poor primary school results in viral video

 PRNT 101: Introduction to Parenting. Introduction to the parenting of children emphasizing modern soft-skill engineering principles: object-oriented design, decomposition, encapsulation, abstraction, and testing. Emphasis is on good parenting style and the built-in facilities of parenting languages. No prior parenting experience required. 

This is a YCISL analysis of the article “Chinese university professor complains ‘lower IQ’ daughter is ‘mediocre student’ due to poor primary school results in viral video” written by Alice Yan and published by the South China Morning Post on June 1, 2021. This article refers to a video showing a person, presumably Associate Professor Ding Yanqing, sharing his experience parenting his daughter and lamenting her school performance. A video of a news broadcast on this story is posted on Baidu.

I am relying on the translation into English that is reported as quotes in the SCMP article.

“I tutored her every day. But she still finds it difficult to study. There is a big gap between her scores and that of the second-last student.” This reminds me of Daniel Pink’s TED Talk “The Puzzle of Motivation” where he said “When I got to law school, I didn’t do very well. To put it mildly, I didn’t do very well. I, in fact, graduated in the part of my law school class that made the top 90% possible.” The question that should be asked is whether the student was (1) in a class that would allow her to succeed; was she placed correctly? (2) in a school that would allow her to succeed; was the teaching a good fit for her learning? (3) in a place that would allow her to succeed; are there any non-academic co-factors?

“I am at a loss: this is destiny. I can’t do anything about it.” So he might be at the bottom of the parenting class? If anything, this should raise empathy. The other possible thought is that he is actually responsible for this outcome. Was there any attempt at prototyping? – “fail early, fail fast” as I like to suggest during prototyping – to consider several promising candidates and invest energy and resources wisely. I would also suggest that he reflect on what successes he encountered in this experience. Finding the positivity in failures is crucial to avoid worse outcomes.

“…force her to study or do homework.” In the YCISL, we use the idea of oblique change forces as well as setting up for an exploratory time period (Gamestorming framework). Is his daughter in peak mental and physical health? Are there distractions? The parenting question is what can you integrate with the need to study and do homework that would have a better chance at better learning? A 15-minute nap? A nutritious snack? A caring “how was your day?” chat? More information is needed to analyze this properly…perhaps she has a love of learning for certain subjects, but not others? How much sleep does she get? Does she have active listening filters?

“My daughter is definitely not a wonder child. Her IQ is far lower than both of us.” Any idea about her EQ? And have they all really been tested for IQ? Is it possible that he has a parenting bias because he has a daughter, not a son? Reminds me of the story about Gillian Lynne told by Sir Ken Robinson in his “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” TED Talk.

“No matter how outstanding you are, your child may be just an ordinary person.” Hmmm…humility appears not to be one of his strong points. I wonder if cultural toxicity is unusually high in his worldview.

“Ding admitted it was 95 per cent likely that his daughter would not be able to achieve scores good enough to be admitted to PKU in the future.” Ummm…did you ask your daughter whether she wanted to go to PKU? You also never know. I am at Stanford now…but I am quite “ordinary” and happy.

“Parents should identify their kids’ unique qualities in different aspects other than academic studies. They should find a path suitable for the kids to develop and assist them in that direction.” Finally, some good advice. But let’s add some design thinking to this statement. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? The Who? should be more than just the parents and kids…it needs at the core to also include the school community as well as social support network. The Where? needs to identify the places where the love of learning thrives. The When? should be addressed through optimized time management that promotes well-being. The What?, Why? and How? is up to each family to explore in their own worldview.

Here is a suggestion for parents in similar situations: Find a list of careers. Imagine your child in those careers. Are you able to accept that your child may be in that career? Can you imagine them being happy in that career? This is just a conditioning exercise. Whether the careers are feasible is not of concern for this purpose. Let’s try to picture a worldview with our children succeeding in each of the ways told to us by Richard St John in his TED Talk “8 Secrets of Success.” Another one of the YCISL “Simple, but not Easy” practical designs.

I will also share a thought that Assoc. Prof. Ding shared this story so publicly because of his academic interest in “reforms of Chinese compulsory education” (listed on his PKU web page) and was actually trying to stir and spin with connection to recent governmental reforms in education. This might explain the narrow thoughts early, and the final “good advice” thought.

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