top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Raising not-so-American kids


The International School of Portland offers Japanese, Chinese and Spanish immersion programs.

College-educated parents want their children taught in Japanese, Mandarin, French and Spanish, writes Abigail Shrier on Substack. They say bilingualism is good for kids' brains, but she suspects it's more than that. They want their children to be less immersed in American culture.

Over the last two decades, matriculation at dual-language curricula in both public and private schools has skyrocketed. In 2000, there were roughly 260 dual-language programs in the U.S. By 2011, Harvard Graduate School of education estimated the number at 2,000.
The American Councils Research Center estimates that in 2010, there were about 1,000 dual-language programs in public-schools in the U.S. A decade later, there were more than three times that many. American parents are signing up their kids for instruction in languages they can’t speak and immersion in cultures to which they have no native connection.

Some parents see dual immersion as a way to "inject gravitas into their children’s education," Shrier writes. Some may admire a culture that's not their own. "But I suspect they don’t want their kids to be Japanese; they just want them to be a whole lot less American."


“Being American-born and raised to American parents is a major risk factor for anxiety, depression, disengagement from school" and other bad outcomes, argues Leonard Sax, author of The Collapse of Parenting. Children of immigrants who speak their parents' language at home do much better because they're partially insulated from America's "culture of disrespect" for parents, he told Shrier.


"Some parents who sign their children up for foreign language instruction in a language they do not speak may simply hope to produce kids more orderly and respectful than the typical American adolescents," she writes. "But they may also have a humbler ambition: raising kids who are less lethargic and sad, less screen-obsessed, less anti-social — less adrift than American kids seem to be."

8 Comments


Guest
Oct 09, 2022

"Why do vandals deface?"... is a question raised in the linked article. That question was answered in lit study way back when ( "The Marigolds", E. Collier for ex.) ... today's children of urban poverty are not progressing academically or emotionally, nor are their elders involving them in the chores of daily living. The parents have chosen to extend the childhood of the offspring while they go about their own pleasure seeking...freedom for them, with no responsibility to the next gen. The video game scenario is interesting; if the author had actually done a bit more research, she would find that the dads who are skilled aren't promoting mindless pleasure - they are promoting programming, literacy, communication, and strategy am…


Like

Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Oct 09, 2022

That's like the most depressing and distressing articles I've read. I work in IT and a lot of the Indians send their kids to Indian, pre-schools and day care - my accountant sends his kids to Yeshiva - I coached the son in youth soccer but his school only had intramural sports - they couldn't care less. A couple of hours on Saturday morning is about all they want the kids being around the other American kids and kids didn't mix with the other kids at all,

Like

Guest
Oct 09, 2022

Immersion programs often draw only upper-middleclass families, so they're a way to stay in the public schools while avoiding economic diversity.

Like
Guest
Oct 10, 2022
Replying to

Not true. Does anyone think that the upper middle class rich kids have no access to drugs or alcohol?

Like

Guest
Oct 08, 2022

"“Being American-born and raised to American parents is a major risk factor for anxiety, depression, disengagement from school" and other bad outcomes"


Yeah, I think he means American college edumedicated parents.

Like
Guest
Oct 10, 2022
Replying to

1954 was the first year that more than 50% of 19 y/o were high school graduates. Schools have always been a problem place for boys with attention or behavior issues. The problem is that being middle class or higher these days requires concentration, thinking ability, and the ability to use knowledge.

Like
bottom of page