Time to tame the tigers?
As a Dutch artist based in Hong Kong and who used to live in China, I am at once an insider and outsider.
As a mother residing in Asia I am closely exposed to, and to a certain extent even part of the famous – or perhaps infamous – ‘Tiger Mom’ scene.
Living with school-aged children in Hong Kong, it is impossible not to be emotionally affected by the stories of suicides in schools.
I take a balanced view and I am also well aware of the incredible academic performance of children in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China compared to children globally.
At the same time, some statistics are terrifying. Some children in primary schools in Hong Kong are given less outdoor time for exercise than prisoners. Fifty percent of secondary school pupils show signs of depression. The school systems in Asia have been consistently referred to a pressure cooker.
What is wrong and what is right? There is the constant fear that by not exhibiting some of the ambitious qualities of a Tiger Mom, we will disadvantage our children.
My work shares a feeling of collective helplessness, as no child, family or school can step out on their own.
I fear an encroaching world in which individuality is no longer seen in children, a world where students become anonymous, judged only by their knowledge and their results. I am scared of a world where pupils are not experiencing the joy of education but only the pressure of passing tests and getting high marks.
This visual manifesto, Time to tame the tigers?, aims to inspire us to collectively re-consider the roles of our schools and parents. Do we have the ambition for our children to be ready for the rapidly changing world we live in, or do we only educate them to be accepted at an Ivy League University?