A veteran educator has caused a stir on social media after he released a letter to parents at the school, located in Hanoi, where he is the principal, suggesting they should not overrate and indulge their children.
Associate Professor Van Nhu Cuong, a 76-year-old mathematician who has written many textbooks for high school and college students, offered his suggestions in the letter, published last week on Luong The Vinh High School’s website when the 2013-14 academic year officially began.
His letter touched on many hotly debated issues like excessive care for children, after-school classes (organized at school or teachers’ homes and considered an extra burden on students), and internet addiction.
Most local netizens have so far shown support for what is said in the letter, as it has pointed out problems confronting the educational system and Vietnamese society.
Below is a Tuoitrenews translation of the letter, followed by the Vietnamese original:
Associate Professor Van Nhu Cuong’s letter to parents
On the occasion of the new school year, I would like to send my greetings to the parents of students at Luong The Vinh High School. I wish you all the best and happiness.
The brand Luong The Vinh is built partly on your support for the school’s teaching methodology. As the principal of the school, I would like to take this chance to share my thoughts on the way you educate your children:
1. Parents, please be careful and compose yourself when you assess your children’s ability. Some are always saying that their kids are number one when it comes to everything: beautiful, smart, talented, intellectual, etc. They extol their children and thus lead them to think that they are superior to their peers. Others act conversely, getting frequently upset with their children, nagging at or even angrily hitting them, treating the kids as useless and indocile people who will never be able to do anything.
Every child has his/her own strong and weak points. The art of parenting consists of knowing how to encourage, praise, and avoid overrating the strengths of your child, while helping him/her overcome the weaknesses without belittling him/her.
An arrogant child or a frightened kid with an inferiority complex is not what our educational system is meant to produce.
2. Please do not indulge your children so much that you are willing to satisfy any of their demands. Remember that if you give your children an inch, they will take a mile. So you should think twice about their requests. It is probable that you do not lack money, but we are talking about education so you should not give them money even when you have more than enough of it. The more children are given, the less gratitude they may feel, all of which is a proscription. First and foremost, children should be grateful to their parents, realizing how hard they have struggled with financial difficulty to sponsor their education. That gratefulness will serve as a motive for their endeavor in studies.
If “spare the rod and spoil the child” is an erroneous viewpoint, indulging the child is too.
3. Please do not pamper your children to the extent that you do not let them do anything other than study. A child wants to help his/her mother with cooking and the mother will say, “my dear, you just study, I’ll finish it in a moment.” When he/she has eaten his/her meal, the mother would normally say “have a rest, I’ll do the washing-up.”
In that fashion, there will be children unable to do anything, including simple tasks such as cleaning the house, washing dishes, doing the watering and weeding, etc. When they grow up, they will become lazy, disregard labor, and look down on workers. As a seasoned teacher, I have formed an opinion: Without hard work, there will be no creativity. A lazy person definitely cannot achieve success.
4. Educate your children on altruism, charity, and friendliness. Everyone should have the most basic characteristics, like a kind-hearted and upright disposition. Urge your children to think of the hardships and dire straits facing many people in our society. Spiritual and material sharing, encouragement, and signs of sympathy will be a representation of a kind heart, which will dissipate envy, insensitiveness, and hostility, and make our children good and noble people.
5. Teach your children to live more in the real world so that they will not immerse themselves in cyberspace. Do everything in your power to make them talk more to their family members instead of chasing after virtual things online. Social networking sites on the Internet are bringing danger to our children. So please pay more attention to it because cyberspace addiction has caused many kids to misbehave, or even break the law.
6. Regarding our students’ studies, Luong The Vinh is against the running of too many after-school classes. We have designed a curriculum comprehensive enough for our students not to resort to these classes. After-school classes do students more harm than good: they cost money, consume time, have bad effects on health, pose danger to students as they travel on the road, deprive them of the time for self-study and research, etc. Those enrolled at Luong The Vinh are students who have been carefully selected with good conduct and academic records. We believe that after-school classes are not necessary given a well-prepared curriculum and help from our experienced teachers.
What has been said is simply the opinion of an old educator who always feels happy when his students succeed in life.
I wish you and your family happiness!
The Vietnamese original can be found here.