This father raised his deaf daughter to become one of China’s top 10 women through a deep appreciation for her.
Contributed By Carol Loi
On April 9 and 10, more than 1,000 parents, teachers and principals turned up at the Singapore Expo to learn from Prof. Zhou Hou on his parenting philosophy known as “Appreciation Education.”
Zhou is a father to a deaf girl. It is due to the discovery and use of this education method that his daughter, Zhou Ting Ting, progressed from a 3-year-old who could not utter a single word due to congenital deafness, to become China’s first hearing-impaired undergraduate who was accepted by both Columbia University and Boston University in the US as a PhD student. In 2002, she was named one of China’s top 10 women. In 2003, she and her father were joint recipients of the 6th Global Passion for Life Award.
Zhou reminded parents to remember the time when they were teaching their children to talk and walk—when their children were babies, learning to talk, whatever gibberish words they were trying to say were always reciprocated with cheers and smiles. This was because parents knew that in good time, the child would be able to talk. And when their children were toddlers learning to walk, parents would often cheer them on even when they fell. No parent would scold a toddler for not knowing how to walk, nor scold a baby for not being able to talk. However, as the children enter the education system, parents tend to be overly anxious and forget about how supportive and cheerful they once were when their child was still a toddler learning how to walk and talk.
He highlighted that “love is like air and water in a child’s life.” Children learn best when they are in high spirits. He said that many children are often afraid during examinations, for fear of not being able to meet parents’ expectations. The fear and anxiety that children feel do not help in setting them up for a calm and peaceful environment. He used to encourage his daughter, “No matter what exams you face, if you do well, Papa will applaud and cheer for you. Even if you don’t do well and you’re feeling down, Papa will also be here to share your woes. That way, your pain will be reduced by half straight away, see?”
He said that the secret of education lies in four simple words: “You can do it.” He said, “If you say you can, then you can—‘cannot’ also becomes ‘can.’ If you say you can’t, then you can’t; and ‘can’ also becomes ‘cannot.’” Zhou further emphasized the importance of having a proper attitude toward life and toward one’s children. The attitude needs to be internalized until it becomes a belief, and parents will then experience a change in their children. Often, transformation starts not with the children, but with the parents’ attitude toward their children.
He shared a story about how his life was changed because of a teacher. He used to be exceptionally rude and disrespectful to a teacher whom he disliked, often rallying his friends to disturb him. However, this teacher would still treat him well. One day the teacher showed Zhou a list of offences that he had compiled, and said that he would be visiting his father at home that afternoon. That day, the young Zhou went home and his father welcomed him with open arms. His father told him that his teacher had just left, after telling him what an outstanding student he was and how he displayed leadership qualities. Zhou was moved by his teacher’s positive views toward him. That became the turning point in Zhou’s life.
Many parents who attended the seminar, found it insightful and refreshing. Susan Chia, mother of two teenage girls shared, “From Zhou Hou’s seminar, I have learned that Appreciation Education is about inspiring a child and removing the inferiority complex in them. Only then, can the child’s potential be reached.” She added, “I have been looking at the negative and have overlooked the positive sides of my children’s behavior. Now I am learning to appreciate them with tactful, zealous encouragement, with more patience and tolerance so as to draw out the ‘guai hai zi’ (good child) in them.”
“The seminar served as a reminder to have a positive attitude and to be appreciative and thankful. We must remember what we always tend to forget—to praise and appreciate our children and love them unconditionally like God loves us,” said Priscilla Chen, mother of three children, 13, 11 and 8 years old.
Zhou Hou will be in Singapore again on June 11. Parents who are interested to attend his upcoming workshop may email Eric Lim at email@example.com
Key Ideas Of Appreciation Education
(Extracted from Appreciating Your Child—How To Awaken And Unlock The Latent Potential In A Child by Zhou Hou)
There is no such thing as bad crops, only farmers who do not know how to grow crops. There is no child who cannot be taught well, only parents or teachers who do not know how to teach.
How a farmer treats his crops determines the growth of his crops. By the same principle, how parents treat their children will also determine the child’s destiny. Just as a farmer prays for his crops to grow quickly, all parents also wish for their children to succeed early in life. However, the difference lies in how they go about attaining that goal.
A farmer ponders day and night about how to improve the quality of his crops—whether he is watering them enough, whether he is using sufficient fertilizer. However, when parents lose sleep over their children’s education, do they think about their innermost needs? Do they fret about how to satisfy their children’s emotional needs?
A farmer cannot hasten the growth of his crops. They have to be allowed to grow at their own pace, at their own time. A farmer’s responsibility is just to monitor the development of the crops—whether the leaves are healthy and green, whether there is sufficient room for growth. When the growth of the crop is below expectation, a farmer never complains nor blames the crops. On the contrary, he would reflect on the poor growth in a bid to come up with a reason for it.
With changes in geographical conditions and environment, farmers adapt by altering their crop-growing methods accordingly. However, with changes in the social environment, are parents conscious of the need to keep abreast of their concepts of education?