Frederick Luis Aldama é professor na Universidade de Ohio, de áreas tais como Literatura Comparada, Estudos Latinos e o ponto de encontro entre as Ciências Cognitivas e a Literatura ou, pelo menos, a Narrativa. No interior desses interesses académicos, o seu gosto pela banda desenhada encontra também formas de se tornar matéria de estudo. Nos seus volumes sobre autores latinos de várias áreas (da literatura ao cinema), discute sempre alguns autores de banda desenhada, e utiliza mesmo os seus textos nas suas aulas. Estes dois volumes são o corolário desse trabalho no que diz respeito à área de estudo que nos interessa.
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Mother Tiger—or Just a Big Bully?

by Frederick Luis Aldama on January 20, 2011

From the playground to Internet, bullying runs rampant. Now it appears in the form of blaze-away bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin 2011). The author and mother of two, Amy Chua, takes pride in raising her girls the Asian way: no sleepovers, playdates, school plays, TV or video games, no grads less than an A, etc. “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until your good at it. To get good a anything you have to work, and children on their own never want o work, which his why it is crucial to override their preferences”. And while “Western parents” ask their kids to try their best, Chinese use put downs like “your lazy” and “your classmates are getting ahead of you” as well as order to get As.
To punish her daughter Lulu for not practicing till she got the “The Little White Donkey” right on the piano, it’s not so much that she threatened to take toys to the Salvation Army or to burn a stuffed animal or that she couldn’t use the bathroom or drink water, but that she told her to “stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic”. By working her daughter to the bone to get it right, Chua explains that this builds self-esteem.
While Chua has tried to hide behind disclaimers (“Retreat of the Tiger Mother”) that this is “ironic and self-mocking” (“I find it very funny, almost obtuse”) or some form of exaggeration since, we know better. Do we use a dash of cultural relativism and let this Chua off the hook or call this for what it is: bullying. I don’t want to add more to the huge wave of negative response—“Parents like Amy Chua are the reason Asian-Americans like me are in therapy”—but would like to mention the huge research in the biological science—social neuroscience and cognitive development research—that tell us otherwise.

It’s simple. It’s universal. Given that we are the only species that grows so much ab ovo, we require a massive force-field of nurturance and protection to grow healthy and balanced emotion and cognitive systems. Indeed, it is precisely the protected environment of childhood that allows us to develop faculties of reasoning (deduction, induction, abduction), judging (distinguishing, separating, ordering, classifying), evaluating (good/bad, right/wrong, tasty/unsavory, attractive/repulsive), as well as our emotions, our motivation (or will, or will-power), and our intentionality (our capacity to plan, to have an action and its result in our mind before materializing it as an entity out there in the world).
The proof’s in the pudding: while you might make it to Julliard with your piano playing, goodness knows where you might have gone if you’d been given a parent/child environment where the draconian is not the rule; where it is the stamp of love and acceptance and not avoidance and anxiety that opens up the desire to explore world outside in unlimited ways.
Why on earth would we want to clip wings and create children that formulate only limited theories of love and physical and biological world outside? Why in the world would we want to create unimaginative little people who become big bullies?
As Alison Gopnik so nicely puts it in her wonderful book, Philosophical Baby: “There’s a kind of immunity about a happy childhood. Change and transience are at heart of human condition. But as parents we can at least give our children a happy childhood, a gift that is as certain as unchanging, as rock solid, as any human good.”


Small Reflection on Stavans, Paz, and Forgetting–or Not!

I just spent a wonderful time reading Ilan Stavans’s lovely little book on Octavio Paz, Mexican essayist and poet who won the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Stavans aptly titled his book Octavio Paz. A Meditation, for it is not a biography nor a scholarly study; it’s a very personal and selective overview of Paz’s [...]

by Frederick Luis Aldama Read the full article → January 10, 2011 1 comment

Science or Science Fiction?

Prof. Emeritus Daryl J. Bem’s set to publish results of research on college students that appears to prove a capacity for ESP—and not in the journal of Vodun, but in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  (See article here.) While the results—exercising ESP to determine if an erotic photograph appeared behind a curtain on [...]

by Frederick Luis Aldama Read the full article → January 8, 2011 0 comments

New Year’s Resolutions and the Brain

Who doesn’t love Oliver Sacks? What is there not to love about him? Often his books follow the same script we find in Awakenings, the book and the film (where Robin Williams plays the role of Oliver Sacks). The script is well known: you follow the case of a patient with a very rare neurological [...]

by Frederick Luis Aldama Read the full article → January 6, 2011 0 comments

Why We Give a Dang About Fiction

Why do we go to the movies, listen to or read stories, thumb through comic books?  How is it that we can feel so deeply for characters we know are nothing but fictional? I have much to say on this score.  For the moment, ponder this. Many different experiments show that from a very early [...]

by Frederick Luis Aldama Read the full article → January 3, 2011 1 comment

Race and Ethnicity in Video Games

The universe is the limit when it comes to video game content —except when content is placed under the headings of race and ethnicity.  The presence of African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latinos remain few and far between.  When they do appear it is usually as a non-playable character, obstacle to overcome, or simply part [...]

by Frederick Luis Aldama Read the full article → September 7, 2010 0 comments