Why do Asian-Americans do so well in school? asks Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times column. What’s the “Asian advantage?”
It’s not IQ, writes Brooks, citing Richard Nisbett’s book about intelligence.
Chinese-American and white children with the same IQ scores were followed into adulthood by researchers. Fifty-five percent of the Chinese-Americans entered high-status occupations, compared with one-third of the whites, Nisbett writes. Chinese-Americans with a 93 IQ did as well as whites with a 100.
In The Asian American Achievement Paradox, Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou note that many recent Asian immigrants are educated professionals. But working-class Asian-Americans tend to do well in school too. That’s certainly true of the children of the Vietnamese boat people.
The “model minority” may be a myth, but Asian kids walk into a math or science classroom knowing their teachers will expect them to excel.
Kristof credits the Confucian emphasis on education.
Immigrant East Asians often try particularly hard to get into good school districts, or make other sacrifices for children’s education, such as giving prime space in the home to kids to study.
There’s also evidence that Americans believe that A’s go to smart kids, while Asians are more likely to think that they go to hard workers.
Asian-Americans also are likely to grow up in two-parent families.
“The success of Asian-Americans is a tribute to hard work, strong families and passion for education,” he concludes. “Ditto for the success of Jews, West Indians and other groups.”
But their success does not “suggest that the age of discrimination is behind us,” he argues. The “black boy in Baltimore who is raised by a struggling single mom, whom society regards as a potential menace” will not be reassured by the success of Asian-Americans. “Because one group can access the American dream does not mean that all groups can.”
Shouldn’t that kid be reassured by the success of West Indian blacks?