Time to Tame the Tigers
School pressure on children in Asia
As a Dutch artist, who is living in Hong Kong and lived in China, I am an insider and outsider.
As a mother in Asia I am closely exposed to and to a certain extend 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 effected by the stories of suicides in schools.
I take a balanced view and I am also well aware of the incredible secondary school and university results of the Hong Kong, Singaporean and Chinese children compared to children globally.
At the same time statistics are terrifying. Some children in primary schools in Hong Kong are given less outdoor time for exercise then prisoners. Fifty percent of secondary school children show signs of depression. The school systems in Asia have been consistently referred to as 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, no 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; only judged 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 scores.
The series Time to tame the tigers? aims to make us collectively re-consider the roles of our schools and parenting. 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?
This visual manifesto is a body of work that not only shows my vision through photography, but also via a video and an art installation.