At the beginning of this year, the book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua has caused fierce discussion on traditional Chinese education methods. Recently another book “Therefore, Beijing University siblings (所以，北大兄妹) has brought a so-called wolf dad into the spotlight because he too, adopts extremely strict parenting methods and raises 4 well-behaving kids, 3 of whom get into Beijing University, one of the best universities in China. His parenting motto is “beating every 3 days gets your children into BJU”.
To wolf dad Xiao Baiyou (萧百佑) , beating kids is more than a necessary part of home education, but also one of the best parts. He said every time his children misbehave or fail to meet his expectation in school, he would give them feather duster punishment. When Xiao was taking the college entrance examination, he got 8th place in Guangdong Province and was admitted to Jinan University. He attributed his success to his mother who beat him on every tiny mistake he made. So he carried on his mother’s legacy and beat 3 children into Beijing University.
Xiao said he was not a barbarian dad as the public thought. “Beating children is not that simple. My experience tells me it is not easy to do it scientifically and artistically. How to do it scientifically? I think there must be clear home rules and punishment measures. The kids have to know what is right, what is wrong, or whether they are repeating the same mistakes, where is the wrong part, how many whips to it, and no resistance during when receiving the punishment. And when the punishment’s over, they have to express their resolution to be good next time.”
He believes that all children have three natures: animality, humanity, and sociality. Before the age of 12, the animality in children plays a more important role therefore only corporal punishment can teach them what’s right and what’s wrong. “So I mainly adopt “beating” in their upbringing before 12 years old, after that their humanity is basically in form, I won’t beat them anymore and instead adopt lecturing.”
In Xiao Baiyou’s weibo, he often compares his wolf dad style education to normal motivational education and delinquent education:
Look at the results of so-called motivational education or delinquent education: Li Shuangjing’s beloved son assaults people, Yao Jiaxin murders, and many other post-90s never know the decency of giving seats on the bus. Compare to that, my beating the children is nothing. God knows what will happen if there is a knife in the car of Shuangjiang’s son. Many people bash me for beating my kids, but look what happen to those who don’t.
Encouragement is more important than reward. I think every kid remembers their parents saying “if you get 100 points in the exam, mummy will reward you with a gift” “if you get the first place, daddy will take you out for a treat” … These kind of words will never come out from me and my wife, nor will our four kids ever hear about it. Compared to other kids born after 1990s, my children are always excellent. They have good scores, they behave, help with house chores, polite, and won’t go out play without proper reason. But reward, sorry, not in my house.
On Nov 14th, “wolf dad” Xiao Baiyou proudly took the feather duster that he used when beating his kids to an educational TV show and talked about his special methods. Some audience on spot agreed with his practice, while many others resented it strongly especially a professor guest calling him a Mr. Bully.
However confident Xiao is about his special home education methods, he couldn’t remain calm when challenged on the show on the following aspects.
Dispute 1. Is this servility education?
Professor Zhu Qiang from Nanjing Normal University said: Xiao uses corporal punishment into making his kids obedient, he is actually using violence to impose his own will on the children, who will grow up to be yes-men without independent thinking. Wolf dad ends up fostering sheep kids, it is basically servility education that twists their mind. There is no causal relation between his corporal punishment and his kids getting into BJU, such methods shouldn’t be advocated.
Xiao’s defense: When the kids are young, they don’t need independent thinking. They can grow as long as they learn to listen to their parents. As far as I am concerned, the animality plays the main role in kids between 0 – 12, many of their actions are taken subconsciously therefore it takes feather duster to set the rules; between 12 – 18, the humanity in kids gradually takes over, they learn to tell the right from the wrong; after 18, their sociality steps in then they have the need to socialize. Thus the kids are forbid from friending before college, there should only be “family” and “schoolmate” these two concepts in their life. Three of my children make it to BJU which proves that my parenting methods didn’t produce kids without independent thinking. I am only helping them to learn about the world when they are young.
Dispute 2. Can such regimen create happy kids?
Writer and winner of “10 best parents in Nanjing” Zhang Jiwen: Wolf dad sets some very harsh rules, such as no TV only news programs, no coke, no opening the freezer without proper reason, even no air conditioning without proper cause. Breaking any of the said rules will introduce the kids to the feather duster. His son Xiao Rao recalls that he only had one time worry-free playing throughout his childhood. Xiao Rao admits wolf dad’s success but he regrets all the happiness absence in their childhood.
Xiao’s defense: Children don’t have substantial knowledge of happiness or pain. He said that he knew his daughter once wrote in her diary about not having a happy childhood, but he chose to ignore it. Because he thought children base their recognition of happiness or pain on comparison with other kids, therefore they can’t really understand what’s happiness. In the future their recognition of childhood is based on memory. “Now that they make it to BJU, they achieve success during the student phase. I believe when they reflect on their childhood, they must think they are happy.”
Dispute 3: Education should not focus on the glorious surface, rather it should care about the young minds.
Huang Kan, teacher from Nanjing First High School: Yes 3 of wolf dad’s kids are admitted into BJU, but that doesn’t necessarily means their inner state of mind is as gloriously shining as their achievements, perhaps deep down they feel repressed and painful. No matter how you do it, beating will leave psychological damage to the children. To me, an adult beating a kid is bully. My daughter was a very good kid but she chose to end her life after she went abroad for studying. Then I came to realize that I never really walk into her heart. I hope wolf dad can communicate more with the kids on emotional level, to prevent tragedy.
Xiao’s defense: Xiao said that he was not as cold blooded as the public thought. He beats his kids out of love for them. He told the reporter that he almost gave up his job to foster his young children. “I am a deputy of section for 10 years, didn’t get any promotion because of my children. I can say that I am the best and the most responsible father in the world.
When asked about his future plan, Xiao said he wished to open a traditional private school to teach students like that in Qing Dynasty, he would teach them horse riding and archery. But he would go on with the corporal punishment. “So far I have taken care of over 30 children sent to me by their parents. I beat them no matter they are boys or girls, and they won’t resist, they parents agree to it too. My children have agreed to let me mentor their kids in the future. I make each of them promise to give me at least 3 grandchildren.”