Time to tame the tigers? - PhMuseum

Time to tame the tigers?

Saskia Wesseling

2018 - Ongoing

As a Dutch artist, who is living in Hong Kong and lived in China, I am an insider and outsider. I am part of the famous – or perhaps infamous – Tiger mom scene.

I read about suicide of young children in Hong Kong, but I also read about the amazing results of the Hong Kong (and Chinese) children compared to children in the rest of the world. Where Northern European children once took the lead on academic results, Asia has now taken over.

What is wrong and what is right? I know what the collective helplessness feels like, as you cannot let your child do things differently as then they fall out. They will not be accepted in schools. Schools can choose, and they choose the children with the highest scores. It’s as simple as that. So how can you step out of the system without hurting your child’s future?

We have an obligation to this generation of schoolchildren to evaluate what is going on. Statistics are worrying. Schoolchildren of some primary schools in Hong Kong are given less outdoor time for exercise then prisoners. Fifty per cent of secondary school children show signs of depression. The school systems in Greater China (or Asia for that matter) have been consistently referred to as a pressure cooker. In July 2018 the Ministry of Education in China shared their concerns that pupils were getting too much homework and not enough physical education.

Individuality is no longer seen in children. They become anonymous; the only thing to be seen is their knowledge and their results. They are not going to school to learn; they go to school to pass tests with the highest scores. And so, mock testing is a big part of the daily routine for many children until late in the night.

My work shares a feeling of collective helplessness, as no child or family can step out on their own. Let’s all think and rethink why we send our children to school; To be ready for the world they live in, or only to be accepted to an Ivy league University?

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