Anyone who has been paying attention for the past 20 years knows by now that, in America, Asian students perform the best, white students perform just below them, and Latino and African-American students are performing on the lowest rung of the academic ladder. Anyone who has been paying attention in the past 10 years knows that, worldwide, American students stack up very poorly against the students from most advanced nations, and, in particular, they look very bad indeed when compared to students in China and Korea.
So what the heck is going on in Asia, or in Europe, Finland? What are their schools doing for their students that we are not doing here in America? When one actually examines schools in Asia and schools in America, one discovers that there is not a gap in methodology. What one discovers is that there is a gap in respect and reverence for learning.
There has been much ado in the media recently about Amy Chua, a Chinese-American mother, and her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. An awful lot of Americans are appalled about her methods for raising her children. She demanded the best from them and accepted nothing less. She did not feed their self-esteem. She let them know that success comes from hard work, not from feeling good about yourself. This springs from a Confucian mindset. Work hard. Persevere. Respect authority. You will get ahead. Failure, not only reflects on yourself, but on your family and the values they convey to you.
Somewhere around the 1970′s, we in America decided that a child’s self-esteem was important to their social and psychological development. We somehow dismissed the fact that kids who work hard will outstrip kids who feel good about themselves, no matter what they do in the classroom. We have ended up with a lot of kids who think they are a great deal better than they actually are. They can’t read at appropriate levels. They can’t do math at appropriate levels. They don’t have a clue about the foundations of their society and how we, as a people, got here.
Then, as a result of all this self-esteem and the need to not destroy everyone’s self-esteem, grade inflation ensued. Can’t go failing kids and destroying their belief in themselves. Bad juju. Every kid got passed along, regardless. Kids ended up graduating from high school without knowing squat. The U.S. ends up dropping precipitously in comparisons with other nations.
Furthermore, when you compare the teaching methods in American schools to the teaching methods of schools in the nations who lead the pack, you find that it isn’t the methodology. Chinese students, who happen to lead the pack, routinely complain about rote learning, about lack of allowance for creativity, and pine for a more American system of education. So what’s going on in American schools?
Do you see where I’m going here? It’s not the structure of the schools or the learning here. It’s the attitudes of a society. It’s the values that parents instill in their kids. Families immigrate from Asia and their kids do perfectly well in public schools. Families immigrate from Latin American and their kids drop out, join gangs, and get locked up. African-American families complain about racism and discrimination and their kids join the Latino kids. White kids do okay, but usually lag behind the Asian kids in scholarship, while remaining far ahead of the Latino and African-American kids.
Are Asian kids innately smarter than other kids? No. Are Asian kids getting breaks that Latino, African-American, and white kids don’t? No. Their parents expect them to work hard and accept nothing less than success. They produce because they have to.
Scientific research shows that racial and ethnic groups, on the whole, do not produce human beings that are innately smarter than others. You have a few really smart kids, a few really slow kids, and a whole lot of kids in the middle in every group. The difference is in nurture, not nature.
There is a lesson to be learned here. If a society, as a whole, does not respect its teachers, its educational institutions, the institutions will fail. If a society does not instill in its children the realization that economic and social progress is achieved through education, its children will not excel in their scholarship. Those societies and those sectors of our own society that know the secret, will outstrip the others that do not know or accept the secret.
The secret is that it is not a secret. If you are anyone of average or above intelligence and you work hard, you can succeed in school, any school, even so-called bad schools. If you choose not to work hard and don’t get the results you want, and continue to blame the system, you will still end up in poverty, and dumb as a rock. Take a lesson from the Chinese. It ain’t the schools. It’s the diligence of the students, and the desire to succeed through your own hard work. Life is not easy. Nobody gets ahead through coasting, no matter how good you feel about yourself.
If life were a fortune cookie, and it addressed the American conundrum about education, it would say, “Confucius say, ‘Americans a bunch of lazy spoiled little shits who expect something for nothing,’ Don’t work that way. You got to expend some sweat to get results.”
- Why Asian-Americans and/or Chinese-Americans Cannot Eat Bitterness in America (ilookchina.net)
- College Board Finds Minority Men Continue to Lag Academically (timesoftexas.com)
- Texas bucks U.S. trend in reporting multiracial students’ scores (chron.com)
- Using the American Dream as Bait: Offering a Lifetime of Debt (timesoftexas.com)
- Program to Address Declining Latino Population in Higher Education (timesoftexas.com)
- University of Utah Adds Ethnic Studies Major (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Historically black Houston areas adapt to Latino growth (chron.com)
- Latino Education: CA, TX Future Success Depends On It (timesoftexas.com)
- Unemployed, Incarcerated, or Dead, Take Your Pick (timesoftexas.com)