Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Korean on Model Minority Myth

Dear Korean,

How do you feel about the Model Minority Myth? I'm black and often inspired by Asians who have stats that say they are 4% of the country but 24% of Harvard. Others will say this is a myth of the success of Asians. What do you think?

Redman


Dear Redman,

Here is the Korean's view in a nutshell:  properly used (note the emphasis,) the "model minority myth" can be a very useful instrument.

The model minority theory is fairly well known, so only a little bit of explanation would suffice. Asian Americans are often considered the "model minority," because despite being a minority who is supposed to be at a disadvantage in a racist society, Asian Americans excel to a degree that surpasses even whites. Across all ethnicities in the U.S., Asian Americans are most likely to be college-educated, most likely to be in high-skill occupation, have the highest median family income, and least likely to be poor or be on public assistance.

Because it is fashionable to hate on the model minority theory, the Korean would like to remind everyone this:  the fact that Asian Americans tend to do well in America is not a bad thing. People should be happy with the fact that Asian Americans, despite immigrating to a new land where they face significant barriers, nonetheless manage to (broadly speaking) succeed greatly.

The problem, instead, is when the success of Asian Americans is used to push other things that do not quite connect. Thus the critics of model minority theory are quick to point out that model minority theory is used by certain groups to pit Asian Americans against other minorities. Or that model minority theory glosses over the heterogeneity within Asian Americans, as certain Asian American sub-groups (e.g. Cambodians) do not follow the overall trend of Asian Americans. Or that Asian Americans still have to put in more hours of work to earn the same amount of money as whites. These criticisms are of course correct, and they need to be taken into account when we evaluate the success of Asian Americans.

But the Korean cannot help but wonder:  why don't people care more about why Asian Americans succeed? Even if all the criticisms are true, they do not change the fact that a good number of Asian Americans are successful in America against all odds. Why is there no effort -- or at least, no effort commensurate to the effort devoted to argue against the model minority theory -- to decipher what Asian Americans are doing right, theorize it, and apply the theory for the betterment of all Americans, particularly minorities? If what Asian Americans are doing is conducive to success, shouldn't all Americans do what Asian Americans are doing? Shouldn't that be the greatest contribution of Asian American Studies as a scholarly discipline?

If anything, the trend so far has been the opposite. Any suggestion of what other minorities could learn from Asian Americans is often met by charges of arrogance from other minorities, and a tut-tut from Asian American Studies people claiming that such suggestion pits Asian Americans from other minorities. Whites are happy until Asian Americans are about as successful as they are, but are quick to dismiss the success of Asian Americans when it appears that Asian Americans might actually be doing better than them. So the mainstream society devalues Asian Americans' success as "too focused on academics" or "not creative" -- a ludicrous notion, given the success of Asian Americans in music (easily half of the Juilliard School,) literature (Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Changrae Lee, Min Jin Lee,) sports (Michelle Wie, Anthony Kim, Christina Kim,) fashion design (Vera Wang, Jason Wu, Richard Chai,) or just about any other field. At high schools in San Francisco Bay Area where Asian American students excel, there is a "reverse white flight" because Asian American parents are "too competitive."

Obviously, model minority theory cannot explain everything about Asian Americans, or success in America. No theory is perfect; if you follow only one theory to guide your life, you will be seriously wrong and badly lost. But this must be said, and said confidently:  We Asian Americans are, on average, doing great because we are doing something right. We do not have to apologize for our success, or find a way to explain somehow that our success is not a real success. We are indeed the model minority, in the true sense of the word -- the model which all of America would do well to take notice and learn from.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

105 comments:

  1. If the answer to "why?" is "parents putting a lot of academic pressure on their children", how would you apply this to all Americans?
    I don't say this is the right answer, I want to say that sometimes solutions for some people are not suitable for everybody.

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  2. even if i don't agree with absolutely everything on this site, i generally find it to be even-handed, unbiased, and well-thought. i have a few problems with this post, however. it takes an awful lot for granted, the most glaring of which is the notion that all minorities are created equal. they're not, and you can argue over whether or not the model minority chicken came before the model minority egg, but within that argument i think there are two more important points which deserve attention. first, racial bias in america, as in many other parts of the world (korea very much included) observes a very direct correlation between skin color and degree of bias. the darker the color of your skin, the more discrimination one is likely to face (generally). second, that the model minority, be it myth or not, has by and large created a positive bias towards asian-americans. attitudes toward blacks and koreans are far from identical, and those differences can have very real effects on both individual and group achievement.

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  3. My theory about why Asians succeed in America is that coming here is so expensive – both in an absolute sense (it's much more expensive to be smuggled from China than Mexico), but also in a relative sense (few Chinese, for example, have the money to pay to come over). Because it's so expensive, it acts as a sort of merit test, so only the most motivated people make it over.

    And then there's the fact that in many cases Asians came to America because they were quasi-dissidents. This, I believe, also explains why Eastern Europeans who came to America during the Cold War do so well compared to Eastern Europeans in Western Europe – it was just so much more difficult to come to American than Europe, so we got the cream of the crop.

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  4. It seems to me, one could objectively analyze an idea like this, but in the end its not really a way to live ones life. No matter one's station in life, someone will always be in a better position and other in a worse position. Some will have it easier, some will have it harder. That is not really going to change. If you take the attitude any day you can get better or get worse. You going to take that inch and make it a mile, or be given a meter, wish it was more, and just throw up your hands and go home. Get your role models and mentors and use them. Could you get screwed over? By all means, even for some pretty stupid reasons. But I think that also comes back to a proper attitude. The process of trying to become better holds in it more sweetness than what one may consider success.

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  5. So I guess to get back to the theory, you can take it for what it is worth. The important thing is to put the idea in a appropriate context, especially if one is actually going to put that model to use. Some aspects of any culture are going to be more fit address a situation better than another. Trying to adopt certain aspects of a culture may constructively or destructively work within an existing culture. So I guess I would have to conclude that, I don't think it is myth, but on the other hand it cannot not be thought that it can easily be applied.

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  6. Of course everything you guys say about the different situations for Asians and other minorities are correct. The Korean's position is only this: there are things to be learned from the model minority experience. Surely it cannot be said that there is absolutely nothing for the rest of America to learn from the fact that Asian Americans are, on average, successful in America despite a number of obstacles.

    Take exercise regimens, for example. An exercise regimen for a pro athlete probably is not for regular people. But the regimen nonetheless teaches regular people what are the important body parts to focus on, what the methodology is, etc. And it is not the right attitude to say, "I'm not a pro athlete, this has nothing to do with me." The right attitude is to learn whatever we can learn.

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  7. To Andrew's comment about skin color and degree of bias, I don't think that is necessarily the case. Indians have dark skin but they are perceived in a positive light. I'm not claiming to know the answer but I think it has to do with cultural values such as stressing importance of education and America's immigration policy. America does get the cream of the crop from Asia. When I visited Vancouver, my Indian friend told me that there are Indian gangs in Vancouver. I've never even heard of such a thing living in California. Because Canada's immigration policy is more relaxed compared to the U.S., they're getting the second tier immigrations from India hence the formation of Indian gangs.

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  8. An interesting theory posited by Malcom Gladwell in "Outliers" is that the Asian heritage of rice cultivation passed down over centuries may have something to do with Asian success in America. Because rice farmers worked year round and never had an off season, they ended up having proverbs like 'No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.' Persistent hard work and incremental improvement in rice farming always yielded better results, thus every bit of effort put into "work" meant more success. A little better spacing between seedlings, better irrigation, flatter terraces, every little bit of work and advantage put into farming rice yielded better harvests. Such appears to be ingrained in almost all Asian cultures, every bit of work equals more reward, this is ubiquitous common thinking. Although this may seem like common sense, I think it's fair to say not every culture embraces this philosophy as wholeheartedly as Asians do. Whether we like to believe everyone is born equal, history and culture actually can make a difference when put in this context, much of the reasons why Asian parents put so much pressure on their kids to do well in school. Whereas lately American counter-culture places value in "learning to relax" and having leisure time, this persistent message towards work/reward does seem to serve Asians well.

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  9. And there is anybody, who can objectively take all those factors which are leads to the Asian Americans' success into account? Or it is similar to the old joke, like Asian Americans cannot be objective and non-Asian Americans cannot explain? Besides, I'm sure that an ethnic Korean hardly ever answer for what are those things, which help him success. And that is partly because they are hardly ever ask such a question from themselves .(And so do other non-American people.)I think such know-hows are purely American tradition...

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  10. Average East Asian IQ-105. Average white IQ-100. Average African-American IQ-85. East Asians also work harder at academics than all other groups.

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  11. another factor here, that the asian of reason clearly alludes to, is that definitions of success vary greatly along ethnic and social lines. i don't mean for it to sound like i'm trying to sell the goals of asian-americans short in any way, especially since they've clearly done quite well at reaching them. but the success/ failure of those goals is probably a bit more easily quantifiable than for those of other backgrounds.

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  12. While I generally don't have any qualms about your blog entries, I think that your post is lacking in the analysis of the model minority myth. Yes, being labeled the model minority because one is successful may not seem so bad on the surface, but it has harmful repercussions. I agree with your analysis that the model minority stereotype tends to pit marginalized groups against each other to maintain the racial hierarchical status quo. Though you mention that Asian Americans are heterogeneous in passing, your analysis still makes the dangerous assumption that all Asian Americans (AAs) are created equal.

    Certainly statistically speaking, AAs are doing well compared to other races when we look at the number of AAs enrolled in college and when we look at standardized test scores of AAs compared to other groups. However, we also need to break down AAs. Who are these AAs that are being labeled the model minority? And what happens to those who don't fit the model minority category? East Asians (typically Chinese, Korean, and Japanese), who historically did not come to the U.S. because they were fleeing war/genocide/etc. in their home country, are the ones who statistically do well.

    They usually come from a certain privileged class (not always economically, but definitely culturally in that they came with a certain cultural understanding that valued education as well as family values that could afford to push themselves and their children toward success).

    But SE and Central Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, and African Americans don't have the same cultural values.

    For SE, Central Asian, and Latino immigrants, their circumstances are generally much more dire than those of East Asians. Those who come to the U.S. are often refugees, are living in unstable homes, or are fleeing something we can’t even fathom. Many of the East Asians to immigrate to the U.S. are generally educated even though they may live relatively low-income lives in the U.S.

    They have that cultural capital whereas others do not.

    Also, that's not to say East Asians aren't struggling despite having cultural capital. In the Korean American community, many don’t have health care and many KAs are undocumented. Yet, despite that, they are generally ignored in the rhetoric of health care or immigration reform. Also, there are a ton of terrible things happening in Chinatowns all over the country where newly arrived Chinese immigrants are living in SROs (single room occupancy) with large families, they're being exploited in the workplace, not being paid back wages, etc...yet according to the model minority myth, these people don't need any gov't assistance, they don't need to be acknowledged by the media because statistically speaking, these people are doing well.

    bull.

    ALSO (sorry this is a lot) when we look those who do fit the model minority myth (ex: those who can graduate from high school, apply to college, etc.), we see that the model minority myth hurts them when it comes to things like college admissions or job offers. “Asian Americans are being turned away at disproportionate numbers,” according to the Boston Globe. Berkeley instituted a new admissions method that would reduce the number of AAs at their university. Stanford’s campus “unofficially” caps AAs at 25% (in fact, reducing it over the years) despite the increase in applications from AAs each application cycle. Now, whether or not one would want to go to a school that has a large number of AAs in its student body is a personal choice.

    I think that instead of embracing the model minority myth and looking at what Asian Americans are doing "right," we should dismantle the shit out of it and refuse to embrace the myth because the only ones this myth truly benefits are not AAs but those who have hegemony in our society--heterosexual, white males.

    Just wanted to clear some things up in this article.

    -a fellow Korean American

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  13. Thank you Green Tea and Coffee Beans for saying almost everything I was gonna say. lol

    I don't think the elements of class and reason for entry to the US can be emphasized enough. Like someone else pointed out with Indians in Canada vs. the US, the entry pool of East Asians (and Indians) in the US is self-selecting in a way that strongly favors the educated and motivated.

    Quite honestly, Africans are just as "model minority" as East Asians but that's not the prevailing mantra in American society, why? Because of the cohorts of Africans that came to the US as refugees. Their presence masks the achievements of the many African students who came to the US as college students and professors and have since laid down roots. They're overrepresented in scholarship/affirmative action programs for "African Americans" but largely invisible to greater society. (For what it's worth, they too have a reputation for being "overly competitive" and "academically minded".)

    Either way, the saddest thing is that the vestiges of poverty experienced by refugees and other marginalized groups will linger longer than the "success" mentality will stay with the decedents of recent immigrants. By four generations, everybody just disappears into the general population...

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  14. GTCB,

    They usually come from a certain privileged class (not always economically, but definitely culturally in that they came with a certain cultural understanding that valued education as well as family values that could afford to push themselves and their children toward success). But SE and Central Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, and African Americans don't have the same cultural values.

    This kind of statement is what bothers the Korean the most when people criticize the model minority myth. Ok, the Korean gets that only a certain kind of Asian Americans are successful. He mentioned that in the post. But then what can be done for SE and Central Asians, Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans? Are they condemned to failure because they do not share the same "cultural values" as the successful kinds of Asians?

    If having cultural capital is the answer, why isn't there more effort to figure out exactly what about that cultural capital drives people to succeed, given that not even everyone with the same cultural capital succeed to the esame degree? Why don't people talk about enriching the cultural capital of these people with "model minority Asian-esque" values, given that MMAs are even more successful than white people (at least by certain measures,) despite extant language, cultural and racist barriers?

    Also, the Korean favors red-lining Asian Americans.

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  15. They are condemned to lesser rates of success because they don't have the same amounts of human capital that East Asians have. Even if you gave low-performing groups the same amount of cultural capital that high-performing groups are subjected to, there would still be a disparity in success due to the historical process of divergent evolutionary paths. Human beings are not blank slates. The drive, determination, and intelligence seen in high-performing groups is a result of the interplay between genetics and culture. Exploring the linkage between genetics and culture as it applies to diverse groups of people should be a scientific priority.

    Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese come to America from all classes. Sure, since the late 1980s the proportion of highly educated/intelligent individuals has increased, but US immigration law still provides for significant numbers of East Asian immigrants who work in lower-end sectors.

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  16. I really do not understand the importance of the Model Minority Theory. It would seem to me perhaps it may get a lot of talk in ivory towers and blogs, but I don't really see how it is actually applied to policy.

    I'm sure any agency helping to bring in immigrants to the US will just use past experience to figure out how to go about helping in the transition process. Probably the same will happen with those in most businesses. Universities will probably do whatever they feel is in vogue.

    Even if you dismantle the idea of the Model Minority Theory, in that vacuum an even more unofficial Model Minority Theory will take its place. People will always try to break people down into who does things well and who doesn't. Trying to pretend that doesn't happen I think is just silly. It is like really trying to enforce a no score rule in tee-ball. Some kid is always going to keep track. There are reasons to de-emphasize score, but to think its going to disappear is crazy.

    What is important when taking on an idea such as the Model Minority Myth, is that one does not stop at the superficial. One really needs to place things into context. There are clear differences between cultures. Things that work in one culture may not work in another. (What may work for Korean immigrants may not work for Indians on the Reservation for any number of reasons.) Again one needs to try to get a good idea about how things work on the micro-, meso-, and macro- scale.

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  17. I thought you might find this interesting.

    'Asians in the Ivory Tower'

    October 8, 2010

    Each fall brings articles about rising Asian-American enrollments at leading colleges and universities. But according to Robert T. Teranishi, associate professor of higher education at New York University, those stories ignore broader realities -- many of them challenging -- for Asian-Americans in higher education. In his new book, Asians in the Ivory Tower: Dilemmas of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education, he discusses these challenges. He responded to questions in an e-mail interview about the book.

    The author: "One of my biggest goals for this book was to demonstrate empirically that the prevailing assumption that AAPIs are a model minority is inaccurate, misleading, and damaging for the population".

    The rest here

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/10/08/asians

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  18. Korean,

    I love your blog and usually agree with you, but I think you missed some of the important elements of this topic. However, I understand why, bedause being part of a "model minority" group can make one more likely to agree with that particular theory. As somebody who is both Jewish and Hispanic, I know how we as minorities tend to embrace positive stereotypes while rejecting the negative ones. We spend so much time fighting the negative ones that when there is something that we can embrace there is very little chance that we are going to step back and say, "wait, are we really as good as they think?"

    My thesis was based on the differences in the academic success amongst Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans and while there is much truth in what you say about the need to examine the reasons for the relative success of Asian Americans, you seem to be neglecting to realize some of the drawbacks associated with the Asian American way of doing things. For instance, you make the case that criticism of Asian Americans for lacking creativity is unfounded, yet in your examples of success in the areas of art and athletics we can see an aspect of Asian American parenting style that seems to be having some major effects on familial relationships. Classical music and golf, the areas of music and sport where Asian Americans seem to do best, both require immense levels of dedication from both the participating child and the parent (in the case of the parent, both in terms of time and finances). When forced upon a child, the time required to excel as a classical musician or golfer can easily lead to some friction between the parent and child. The same is true of academics. So, while the emphasis placed on education, which is directly associated with Asian American's success, may be the reason behind their ascension to model minority status this has not come with some serious consequences. In fact, a closer look at the consequences of raising children in American society with Asian American parenting techniques finds that it is becoming increasingly common for young Asian Americans to be depressed, less confident than other ethnic groups and also more likely to lack an open, and in the eyes of the child, loving relationship with their parents. I think we could all agree that depressed, unconfident and detached children are not the description of the results of a model parenting group. Therefore, it is important to consider what "model minority group" means. In our hyper-capitalist society, which has been fed the idea that Hispanics are stealing jobs, beheading people in the desert and Blacks and Hispanics are criminals who are leaching off the entitlement system, "model minority" means a group that doesn't do those things.

    My studies and research taught me that by and large Asians and Hispanics come to the US with very different goals and that when coupled with basic ethnic differences these different goals largely shape the ways in which these two groups approach life upon arrival. Asians seem to place a much greater emphasis on becoming wealthy whereas Hispanics often simply desire a better life than they had in their old country. There is great beauty to be found in both methods of thinking as well as flaws. Hispanics are slipping behind economically and socially as education grows increasingly important in determining future earnings and Asians are suffering from the issues that I mentioned above. This is why the term "model minority group" is so controversial. The word model usually indicates something that should be duplicated without any alteration and to think that any ethnic group, minority or not, has developed a method of living that is beyond reproach is erroneous and a myth.

    Oh, and to The Asian of Reason, you are an ethnocentric racist.

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  19. How am I an "ethnocentric racist"?

    I agree with a lot of your points. Shifting NAMs attentions to the "model minority" is inappropriate and unfounded, because people are different. NAMs should develop their own modes of success that draw on their specific ethnic strengths.

    You mention "ethnic differences". I think they are important. East Asian IQ is on average one standard deviation higher than Hispanic IQ.

    You are a smart guy Mr.Jewspanic progressive.

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  20. Asian of Reason,

    How you can wonder how I, or any person capable of dissecting a sentence, could not see the racist and ethnocentric tones of your comments is baffling. However, that is probably indicative of the ignorance that is most certainly at the root of your racist beliefs, so I will forgive you and try to help you see the error of your ways.

    Let me quote you, explain how your comments are ethnocentric and/or racist and then destroy the erroneous reasoning behind your ignorant beliefs:


    Your Statement-
    "East Asians also work harder at academics than all other groups."


    How this comment is ethnocentric and/or racist- Ethnocentrism is defined by the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology as the "belief that the norms, values, ideology, customs, and traditions of ones own culture or subculture are superior to those characterizing other cultural settings." You clearly are stating an ethnocentric belief that East Asian academic work ethic is the best in the world.

    Why this statement is erroneous-
    How do you know "East Asians also work harder at academics than all other groups"? Have you researched the issue? No. If you were to climb outside of your ethnocentric box and look at historical facts you would find other ethnicities and cultures that also place great emphasis on education and value strong study habits. Just as East Asian nations such as Japan, Korea and China have been affected by Confucianism, which places a great emphasis on education, Jews, Muslims and many other groups have also been affected for many years by religions or philosophies that do the same. For instance, here are just three of many examples from the Koran: The importance of education is repeatedly emphasized in the Koran with frequent injunctions, such as "God will exalt those of you who believe and those who have knowledge to high degrees" (58:11), "O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge" (20:114), and "As God has taught him, so let him write" (2:282). When other groups of people place a religious devotion to education it is safe to assume that those people work pretty "hard at academics." Believing that your group's work ethic is superior to that of others' is both ethnocentric and erroneous.

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  21. To: Asian of Reason (continued),

    Your Statement-
    "They are condemned to lesser rates of success because they don't have the same amounts of human capital that East Asians have. Even if you gave low-performing groups the same amount of cultural capital that high-performing groups are subjected to, there would still be a disparity in success due to the historical process of divergent evolutionary paths. Human beings are not blank slates. The drive, determination, and intelligence seen in high-performing groups is a result of the interplay between genetics and culture. Exploring the linkage between genetics and culture as it applies to diverse groups of people should be a scientific priority. "

    How this comment is ethnocentric and/or racist-
    It was with this paragraph that you made the jump from ethnocentrism to racism. You clearly believe that East Asians are genetically superior to other minority groups (and probably all) in the area of intelligence. This is racism- "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism)."

    Why this statement is erroneous-
    First, your reference to "human capital" is a bit confusing. In economic terms, which is how the term is properly used, human capital refers to education, training, health and values. However, you seem to be saying that even given such capital non-East Asian immigrants would not be capable of succeeding at the same rate as East Asians. This leads me to believe that your reference to human capital is not made in the Adam Smith, capitalist sense, but instead is an allusion to your core belief that East Asians intrinsically maintain greater "drive, determination and intelligence." This is erroneous and racist. Your desire to have such beliefs scientifically validated is an expression of your desire for and approval of scientific racism, thus your continued recital of ethnic I.Q. scores.

    Intelligence is not defined by I.Q. scores. It is the capacity to learn or understand or deal with new situations and information. It is the ability to apply knowledge to the situation and environment that one is in. There is no difference in this ability from ethnic group to another. I have educated children aged 4-18 in the U.S. (Caucasian, Asian American, Latin American and African American), South America and Korea. There is no difference whatsoever in the ability of these ethnic groups to absorb information and then make use of it. None. While certain ethnic groups may have particular strengths (e.g. my students in South America were far better at creating unique and creative work than my Korean students, but my Korean students are much better at following exact instructions) the intelligence of each group has been shockingly consistent.

    As I mentioned to the Korean, we tend to gravitate towards stereotypes that elevate the group we associate with. The desire to feel good about oneself is a natural human characteristic. However, this natural characteristic can become unhealthy and counterproductive to human society when people such as yourself propagate such stereotypes and build upon them in such a racist manner as to state that your genetic make-up is superior to that of others.

    Oh, I am not quite sure why you decided to refer to me as "Mr.Jewspanic progressive". Perhaps you were simply trying to be clever and combine my blog name with my ethnic background. Or, perhaps, your reason was less clever and more malevolent. Whatever the case, I am Jewish and Hispanic and progressive. I am proud of this. The difference between the two of us is that I don't think that I'm better than you because of my ethnicities.

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  22. tPA,

    you seem to be neglecting to realize some of the drawbacks associated with the Asian American way of doing things. ... it is becoming increasingly common for young Asian Americans to be depressed, less confident ...

    Weighed against the tremendous cost of poverty, those drawbacks are pittance. Poverty causes mental AND physical illnesses. Poverty contributes greatly to crimes and addiction, which in turn disintegrate the social fabric. Alleviating poverty is one of the direst moral concern of today, and it is not persuasive to say that the potential medicine against poverty cannot be examined because of certain side effects.

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  23. J Man - agreed.

    reineke - thanks for the link.

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  24. Korean,

    I completely agree with your statement that poverty is one of the most serious problems that a society can face and that examining solutions to the issue is of the utmost importance. In fact, the reason I chose to focus on Asian and Hispanic immigrants in my study is that as the two fastest growing minority groups in the U.S. they will play an increasingly important role in the future economic and social direction of the country. With the two groups heading in such opposite directions, it appears as if the nation's middle class will continue to shrink, which would lead to a tremendous increase in the social upheaval you mentioned. I think our differences stem from my belief that the issues regarding education, which is the most important aspect of minimizing poverty, can be more effectively addressed systemically than they can by ethnic studies. It is far easier, and arguably more ethical, to make changes to the education system rather than specific ethnic groups that are floundering. There are a number of measures that could be implemented that have already seen some success in developing an education system that plays to the strengths of a wider variety of groups. It is not necessary to go into to details about these in this forum, but it is an important thing to keep in mind.

    Anyways, I think this was an excellent topic and I am glad it was examined. I was simply attempting to bring my particular sociological perspective into the discussion by arguing that elevating any ethnic group into "model" status is often the result of either a lack of investigative depth or ethnic biases, thus there is a belief by some that the "model minority" is actually the "model minority myth".

    Korean, thanks for your time and perspective.

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  25. TheProgressiveAmerican,

    How do you convey a standing ovation over the internet? I've never seen such an eloquent and concise deconstruction of this kind of insidious self aggrandizing ethnic masturbation anywhere online.

    The Asian of Reason - I don't think you know as much about genetics OR culture as you think you do.

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  26. tPA,

    I think our differences stem from my belief that the issues regarding education, which is the most important aspect of minimizing poverty, can be more effectively addressed systemically than they can by ethnic studies. It is far easier, and arguably more ethical, to make changes to the education system rather than specific ethnic groups that are floundering.

    Since you give thoughtful comments, the Korean will push along further.

    Isn't it too narrow a vision to think that insights from ethnic studies can only be used to change ethnic groups? Insight gained from ethnic studies can be applied in situations other than ethnic reformation.

    To give a quick, hare-brained example (this is not well thought out at all so go easy on the example's flaws,) suppose AAs excel in school because they often attend after-school academies specifically designed to improve upon their weak subject at school. Suppose a legitimate research was conducted to control the variables, and the link between after-school academies and increased grades are indeed discovered. Then can we not attempt to have government-funded, mandatory after-school academies in the weakest school districts?

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  27. I don't think that is a hare-brained idea at all, even if it isn't a fully formed proposal. The simple idea of after-school activities enhancing performance really isn't some controversial new fangled idea, I think almost anyone can agree that if you spend more time and effort on subjects you have trouble on, you will improve on them. However, looking deeper, we need to understand why asians are more likely to do things like after-school tutoring for their kids. I do think that an idea that is not commonly held amongst americans, that could be learned from Asian culture, that explains this practice. It is simply this: "natural talent" does not ultimately determine how successful you are at certain subjects, rather it is the amount of work you put into your "talent" that makes you special.

    How many average american kids out there think "I'm just not naturally good at math" then are led to believing that because they have no natural talent they can't ever be good at it and then don't try and give up. I'm sure this is not an uncommon occurrence in public schools.

    As good as asians are supposed to be at math, no asians are born with the natural ability to do differential equations or calculus, or even the basics of addition or fractions, we learn it like everyone else. The only difference is that more of us may start out with a leg up because we never believe that we have no natural talent in it. But beyond that, we are never led to believe that this is something we are genetically good at, we work at it hard, maybe it comes easier to us, but no one aces learning trigonometry without doing the work.

    Although that particular example may be particularly evident for math, in my experience I have simply not seen asian parents let their children believe that "I'm not naturally good at X subject" be an excuse for failure. If you failed on a test or a subject, saying "I'm dumb" or "I'm no good at X subject" is not even considered as a plausible explanation. In an asian parent's mind the child failed because they were not diligent enough in studying or were just plain lazy, so they MAKE you work on it, with extra tutoring or after school activities, whatever is necessary; time and work will solve any "natural deficiency" you might have in ANY subject.. Call Asian parents strict or mean because of this trait, but that is unmistakably in my mind one of the cultural traditions embedded in asians that impel us to do well academically that is not as apparent in other cultures. If that makes me an ethnocentrist then so be it, but the proof is in the pudding, how else do you explain the stark difference in academic achievement? However, if this doctrine were to be adopted by all Americans, it could very well improve our academics across the board for all ethnicities.

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  28. @brutus

    I like what you said, but what's up with English (and with foreign languages)then? That is the math for the Asian?

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  29. Now I don't think the example is really all that important, but I think the process is. We should always be trying to figure out what is going to work well. Of course, any time one decides to try to take those ideas and try to make a program out of it, one needs to be careful to actually make sure it works out.

    I think there too is a problem with thinking that a governmental program is going to be the answer. On the other hand, I don't think that one can just dismiss the use of it either. Programs though will have to be pretty holistic. A lot of environmental factors, as well as family culture, can mitigate any possible gains.

    In general I am sure most programs would end up being placed in at the school district level. In this case more so than trying to look at an overarching group such as AA, smaller groups more similar to the group are going to be looked towards. From there one will probably look at models that are successful. Then you try to make plans for a program, and then get some grants to fund it.

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  30. Korean,

    "Isn't it too narrow a vision to think that insights from ethnic studies can only be used to change ethnic groups?"

    Yes, it is. Ethnic studies can teach us muh about how particular ethnicities generally respond to certain situations. However, any ethnic study that comes to the conclusion that there is a "model minority" and desires improvement in the particular area that they are studying is calling for a change to the other minority groups that were studied. Again, the term "model minority" suggests the need for other groups to change their way of doing things in order to achieve at the same level as the model group. While there may be times when this actually would be the best way to approach things, it is far more often the case that the particular system in place favors particular groups over others. This is not always intentional, or even avoidable, but is nonetheless the cause of many of the problems. Furthermore, an attempt from the floundering group to become more like the model group could lead to a loss of ethnic identity. In your example this would probably be unlikely because adding after-school classes does not require a change in behavior. However, it is not difficult to think of one where it would be a potential problem and I will provide a few if necessary.

    Brutus- i don't necessarily agree with what you wrote (For example, recent polls tell us that American children are the most confident and optimistic in the world. Furthermore, in my brief, six month experience in Korea I have found Korean teachers far more likely to chalk up a student's poor performance in a subject to simple inability than American teachers.), but I am not going to call you ethnocentric. The difference between what you said and what I took exception to earlier is that you are not explicitly claiming that your ethnicity's way of doing things is superior to all others'.

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  31. One question I have what exactly is ethnic studies? What are the objectives of it? What kind of theories are they looking for? If it wants to use its findings to be applied, what sort of ways are you trying to apply them?

    I think anthropology & ethnography would probably set up better to try to address some of these issues. If your looking to improve a group that is lagging, there are more points of view than just the ethnic route. One could look at economic status. How the household is set up. I think it would actually be tough to actually come up with a program that really has gone through a rigorous study with greatly controlled variables.

    Plus to mention again, when it comes to a model minority theory, I think when it actually comes to doing something with it, its pretty useless. People will just come up with ideas on their own what is the model minority or the ideal minority. It will tell you more about what the people value, than actually serve as a model to copy completely. It reminds me of when Obama gave his speech saying how our eduction system should be more or less like that in Korea. Since most are familiar with that system, it was more the idea of what most think it is.

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  32. At some point, communities need to take responsibility, parents need to take responsibility. The government can only do SO much. When are parents going to take responsibility? It's not that the system favors Asian parents. It's that Asian and other parents invest in their children's education and welfare. What does it mean to invest in a child's welfare? It means to provide a stable home life that is financially secure where parents can be counted on to provide discipline and support. Where parents actually care about how well their kids are doing. What does it take to be that kind of parent? You don't have to be rich, but you do need to have good judgment. Not all Asian parents are warm and nurturing, but many do enforce good discipline. And so that is what people need to do to see their kids perform better. Stop putting responsibility on others and take responsibility for YOURSELF and your kids. Parents should not complain about teachers not doing enough while handling a classroom of 30 kids when those same parents can't even take care of their own kids properly. Make sure your kid is ready for school mentally, physically, and emotionally. Teachers are teachers and parents are parents. It is not the job of teachers to be parents, but guardians. There is a BIG difference.

    When parents change, that is when kids change. People can poo-poo all they want about social inequalities. They do exist, but it is your job as a parent to ensure that your kid is brought up with the right values and mentality. I don't care how much racism exists in the outside world. You control what goes on in your home. There is no reason for your child to be ill-mannered or deliquent if you provide the love and support you need to as a parent. Now, if your child has special needs, that may require outside support. But you need to do your job as a parent to make sure that your child does well. We can blame others all we want. But nothing is going to change unless we change first.

    If you look at successful groups in America, that is what they all have in common, stable families that provide the support that enables children to flourish. That is all you need. That is all that is necessary on the part of the parents. Then, it is up to the individual child what to do with that support, but most choose to thrive with it.

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  33. @theprogressiveamerican
    I think that poll about American kids having high confidence doesn't mean they believe they can be good at anything through hard work, it sounds more like false bravado, considering our academic scores are nowhere near the top anymore. Moreover, it seems to me the prevailing thought of many kids in the US is that if they "don't like" a subject because they don't pick it up quickly, they get discouraged and quit, thinking being a C student in that subject is good enough. I simply think most asians don't subscribe to that way of thinking. I would find it hard to imagine any Korean PARENT (not teacher) that will freely accept that their child's "lack of ability" in a subject is an excuse for them to do poorly. Barring a real medical learning disability I just don't see it. Of course teachers at high school level or above will categorize slow learners as students who "lack ability". That doesn't mean they consider them hopeless and give up on them. I would venture to say those same teachers would recommend they spend more time studying to correct their deficiencies. The idea that we can learn from Asians here is persistence, you don't give up because you have a perceived weakness or don't learn as quickly as others around you, if you dedicate yourself and put the time in, you can overcome any weakness and the satisfaction in doing so is even more rewarding.

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  34. @brutus

    And what's up with ethnic Korean's poor English then? You can't deny the fact, that some university students are still on the beginner level. What was their excuse? Or how that could happen, if they are never give up, even if they are not good at something.

    Oh, you all, please stop to be so hypocritical -.- Asian Americans have strong and weak points, just like everybody else. You can learn about how they succeed academically, but you better give up on turning to be a superhuman and face with the reality -.-

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  35. Phie,

    I think Brutus is arguing for the value of persistence, not necessarily saying that it will lead to perfection, but to greater results. Yes, there are ethnic Koreans who aren't good at English, but they probably immigrated during their later years. Or if you are talking about Korean students in Korea, persistence cannot correct a flawed educational system. When teachers themselves cannot speak decent English, how are students supposed to? Yes, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but it's important to learn from others and do the best you can.

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  36. tPA,

    While there may be times when this actually would be the best way to approach things, it is far more often the case that the particular system in place favors particular groups over others.

    OK. But the Korean fails to see how the current system causes any "problems," as you mention in the next sentence. The current system values high-grade skills that require intense education, so AAs (on average) fare better at it. Is there a problem with a society that values high-grade skills? Or is the Korean speaking about the same "system" that you were thinking of?

    However, it is not difficult to think of one where it would be a potential problem and I will provide a few if necessary.

    Please do. The Korean is interested.

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  37. Korean,

    I was referring to the educational system and should have been more clear about that. However, I also think that the economic system, which you seem to be referring to, is also flawed, so I will address your question regarding that as well.

    Let me begin with education. The education system is flawed from a standpoint that it is designed in a way that offers a greater likelihood of success to members of certain ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I should make clear that I do not believe the reason for this is a vast conspiracy aimed at stifling the progress of African Americans and Hispanics. It's simply due to the fact that certain ethnicities are more responsive to certain methods of learning than others. In general, Blacks and Hispanics are more comfortable in settings slightly less structured than we generally find in American schools. Think of the differences in behavior that you could find in American churches(I am using churches as an example, because they all involve being "lectured" to by an authority figure). If you were to take a follower of Rev. Rick Warren, (http://tinyurl.com/3xqqb9e) and drop them into Bishop Eddie Long's church (http://tinyurl.com/dfeml9) they would probably feel out of place. The members of Bishop Long's congregation may think of the outsider as apathetic, lazy and perhaps even less committed to their faith. Using this example and applying it directly to academics, we can see that if the educational system does not comfortably fit a particular ethnicity and the system refuses to accommodate that ethnicity then the members of that particular ethnicity are probably going to have a more difficult time excelling academically.

    To conclude this point, I would like to share the following excerpt of my thesis:

    "This is significant evidence in support of the hypothesis that the American school system is designed to reward certain cultures while stifling the progress of others. This is further supported by D. Akiba’s article,which was published in the May-June 2007 issue of The Clearing House. By use of qualitative and quantitative data, Akiba attempted to refute the belief that those that embrace the characteristics of their original culture are hindering their ability to make progress academically. Furthermore, Akiba concluded that embracing one’s cultural background does not only not have a negative impact on the academic success of immigrants but, can promote success and educators should be cautious of methods that directly tie academic success to complete assimilation. This is an especially salient point that confirms the aforementioned hypothesis that the school system is designed in a manner which is inherently more fair, or unfair, to certain cultures. The data exhibits that not only is the school system designed in a manner that is advantageous to people of certain cultural backgrounds but unjustifiably forces students to make the false-choice of holding on to their culture or excelling in school. This is magnified by the fact that the system is also unbalanced in the way that schools that are in higher-income areas are significantly better equipped and funded than those in lower-income areas. As Min Zhou stated in his article in the August 1997 issue of the Annual Review of Sociology, “certain immigrant groups predominately end up as residents of poor neighborhoods which schools lack the resources and commitment that schools in more wealthy neighborhoods receive (Min Zhou, August 1997).” This is essentially the third strike for many immigrants. First, they are at a significant disadvantage due to the nature of the education system itself. Next, they are forced to abandon their culture though doing so has a decidedly negative impact on their growth. And finally, they are doomed due to the location that they live in due to the lack of parity in the American school system."

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  38. I think, TPA, you are just making excuses. People just need to adapt to their environments. Schools should provide REASONABLE accommodation, but at some point, individuals need to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Being forced to sit down for long periods at a desk is not healthy and I feel that schools can do something to change that. But I don't know any ethnic group that naturally likes to sit down for a long time. What do you propose happen? If Asians and whites are better adapted to sitting down and other groups are not, how do you accommodate all groups?

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  39. @itissaid:

    and why those teachers cannot speak English? Given the fact, that even a 60 year old teacher was born when there were US troops in Korea already. I don't wanna say, that is ultimately results in perfect English-speaking persons, but there are countries, which don't have such a direct connection with an English-speaking country, and still do better.

    Besides, this whole topic has become far-fetched. You were asking, that how do you accomodate all different groups of children, when it should be already an essential question for those, who are responsible for the whole education system. Plus I'm sure people in the Usa, at least experts, are aware of that every group, moreover, every person has a different way of learning. Education just can't be a torturing, all-about the achievement, constantly suffocating institute. We have been there, and we won't go back. (and you won't, I hope)

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  40. Phie,

    and why those teachers cannot speak English? Given the fact, that even a 60 year old teacher was born when there were US troops in Korea already.

    Saudi Arabia also has U.S. troops. So do other countries that are not known for speaking great English.

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  41. To The Korean (cont.)

    You also asked me to provide you with an example of the problems that may arise when minorities are forced to adapt to another culture.

    I believe that the preceding excerpt addressed part of that, but since I specifically mentioned the loss of ethnic identity I should probably provide an example for that. Fortunately, we can find one in the last sentence of the first paragraph using simple powers of deduction:

    "Using this example and applying it directly to academics, we can see that if the educational system does not comfortably fit a particular ethnicity and the system refuses to accommodate for that ethnicity then the members of that particular ethnicity are probably going to have a more difficult time excelling academically."

    We can deduce from that fact that if the school system refuses to accommodate for the needs of some minorities then minority students will struggle that the only way for them to succeed is to detach themselves from the factor that is limiting their success.

    I should preface my next statement which will follow by saying that education holds inarguable value in modern society and should be made a priority regardless of ethnicity. I think everybody that has posted a response to this topic would agree with that. Where opinions, specifically mine when compared with almost everyone else, seem to diverge is with what I am about to say: the extent to which education should be valued and prioritized is open to debate. There seems to be an opinion amongst many of those involved in this discussion that treating education as anything less than the top priority for a child is a moral mistake. I believe that this is an opinion founded in cultural bias and I mean that not in a way to suggest that those who hold that opinion are racist or ethnocentric. We all hold certain cultural beliefs that cause us to simply not understand another culture's way of doing things. There are certain cultures differences that can be easily accepted. However, when we see something that stands in direct contrast to a belief that is a core principal of our culture it is difficult to accept. For example, I have been in Korea for six months and in that time I have only seen a boy or man give up his seat for a woman once or twice. This just does not make sense to me and it honestly bothers me even though I know it's a simple cultural difference. My cultural upbringing ingrained in me a belief that men offer their seats to women and open doors for them. In my culture, not doing so is rude and simply not acceptable. It seems as if many in this discussion are viewing other ethnicities' approach to education with the same attitude that I have when I see a high school aged boy not give up his seat to a 60 year old woman carrying 5 large bags of produce. I think it is fair to say that every parent in the U.S. has a responsibility to provide their children with the opportunity to do well in school. They should demand that their children listen to and respect their teachers, do their homework, study for tests and show up for class. Why is it wrong for a parent to not demand a 4.0 GPA or acceptance into a top-caliber university? The Asian (Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese) students that I taught in California excelled in school, but were ALL under extreme pressure to be accepted to a UC school. As a result of their parent's expectations, demands and support they will almost all end up graduating well-respected schools and have well-paying jobs. That is a good thing, but does that make it the right way to raise a child? Not necessarily. Is it not acceptable for parents to not demand a child who is drawn towards and excels in art, athletics, car mechanics or any number of areas which do not require a college education to make their passion their a top priority along with school? I would argue that it is.

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  42. To The Korean (part 3)

    This leads me to the economic system that you referred to in your statement and question, " The current system values high-grade skills that require intense education, so AAs (on average) fare better at it. Is there a problem with a society that values high-grade skills?"

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a society that values "high-grade skills". The problem with our society is that we have gradually shifted the definition of high-skilled worker from being a person who has extensive training or experience (either from school, apprenticeship or on-the-job training) in an area to a person with a post-graduate degree. Our economy has shifted from one which was based on making things to one which sees a great percentage of its GNP come from either large corporations maximizing profits by outsourcing or from mathematical wizardry on Wall Street. This is why our middle class is shrinking and why education is becoming an increasingly important factor in determining socio-economic status. The times of being able to comfortably support a family as a factory worker, contractor or plumber are rapidly vanishing. An immigrant who came to the U.S. 20 or 30 years ago was completely within reason to believe that hard work with their hands would be enough to lift their family into the American middle-class and a quality of life unimaginably better than they had in their old country. This is why it isn't fair to categorize groups that don't emphasize education as much as Asians do as lazy, unambitious or wanting to milk the entitlement system. These are people who believed in something that was real, but is disappearing.


    Itissaid,

    "I think, TPA, you are just making excuses."

    Excuses and empirical, peer-reviewed data that provide explanations are two very different things. To understand the other side of this you must be willing to think with a sociological imagination- a perspective that takes into account that history, social context and individual actors all make up an individual's current situation.

    "Schools should provide REASONABLE accommodation, but at some point, individuals need to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY."

    I haven't seen anybody suggest that personal responsibility is not important. It is. Who is not being responsible?

    "What do you propose happen? If Asians and whites are better adapted to sitting down and other groups are not, how do you accommodate all groups?"

    I'm not sure if you were just using sitting as an example, but it really has little to do with what I said. If you watched the clips you would see two different learning styles. I saw one group listening intently through the use of active physical and verbal communication and another group listening intently by sitting and taking notes. Neither was better than the other and if each works equally well for their respective groups them why not take that into consideration when children are taught at school?

    More groups could be accommodated if school districts made better use of demographic statistics and teachers were taught how to communicate more effectively with students of different ethnicities.There doesn't seem to be anything unreasonable about that proposal. There also needs to be a more concerted effort to involve the parents of floundering parents. For instance, Hispanic parents are sometimes hesitant to attend parent-teacher conferences and school related activities because they have fears regarding their immigrant status and they view the school as being associated with the government. American conservatism's current war against all people brown is not helping with this.

    There may not be a magic bullet for any of this, but there are ways to improve the situation. Those improvements will only have a chance to be implemented when the majority recognizes that sociological factors are real and not part of some secret liberal plot to turn America into whatever it is that ignorant people fear.

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  43. @itissaid

    Sure, and nobody is talking about Saudi Arabians being a model minority, and what we need to learn from them here -.-

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  44. I think we are getting into too many false dichotomies and emphasizing one side or another a bit too much. And sorry, I might now be focusing on tPA a bit more. I think that if someone has to adapt to a dominate culture that does not have to mean that the person will have to assimilate and lose that person's culture. I don't think it should come as any surprise either that if you want to function well in a society you may have to loss a bit of your ethnic identity. I'm sure the Korean may rank himself a bit more one the American scale now, which may displace some but not all of his Korean-ness. If thats unacceptable for a person, and that person is an immigrant then I think it is only charitable to say, maybe you should go back to where you came from. Maybe you can find a nice enclave, but then you relegate yourself to that place.

    Also the system is unfair. Accommodation can only go so far. When I tutor, I'm limited in my ability to reach everyone equally. My experiences, my learning style limits things. Other people's experiences and learning styles limit what I can do. I can try to mitigate mismatches, and with experiences I've learned to do it better. When you up that micro-scale up to a more meso- and macro-level, I think the same holds. Of course there is cultural bias. One can only try to do the best to learn, but many times there are differences and expectations that people are not even aware of. Its hard to accommodate for things your unaware of.

    Also I don't think experts are aware of every group and how to accommodate them. These may be essential questions, but answers are not easy to implement. It would be hard enough to try to accommodate students of one relatively homogeneous group. Another problem if most of the experts are from or at least formed from the dominate cultural group, they will have that cultural bias that may make them miss important clues. Then once you move on from a proper analysis of the problem, to how to mitigate it you once again are limited by a system that will have to have certain standards run by people.

    It may be unfair, but to think it can be everything to everyone is a constraint that cannot be overcome to which would make it fair. You'll just have to come up with some idea what your objective is, and try your best to meet it. Reassess, and repeat.

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  45. @TPA

    You made me said...
    "An immigrant who came to the U.S. 20 or 30 years ago was completely within reason to believe that hard work with their hands would be enough to lift their family into the American middle-class and a quality of life unimaginably better than they had in their old country."
    I wish instead disappear, must at least duplicate...

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  46. @J Man

    "Also I don't think experts are aware of every group and how to accommodate them. These may be essential questions, but answers are not easy to implement."
    Yeah, but you did it. The Korean wrote it himself, that when he was in I guess in high school, he wrote the process of the photosynthesis in Korean, but it was accepted. Even if he himself from my viewpoint not too much grateful for it, I'm praying for such a forgiving and supporting education system in my country.

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  47. @TPA

    oops, I wanted to write you made me sad

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  48. I think that I don't know exactly that the US middle class is shrinking all that significantly. The problem with any study is defining what is middle class. Also in the US small business and entrepreneurship make for rather large portion of the GDP, so I don't think that there have been huge increases in the amount tied to a corporation. Also at the same time for those employeed there, they can also leave. Maybe if your in California it might make a difference too.

    Also if ethnic Koreans can do exceptional well in school and at the same time not be very good in English, I say tip of the cap to them. It is pretty impressive to overcome that handicap.

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  49. haha, yeah. I'm sure that the Korean didn't make it in Hungary.

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  50. That example given by the Korean cannot be extrapolated out to the extent to which it places everyone on an equal field.

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  51. Oh just to clarify, one of my points (especially with respect to accommodation) is of course the education system is unfair, but to say that it is unjust because of that is not fair. It is limited by constraints that make fairness applicably impossible. Accommodations can only go so far, and some accommodations can cause their own problems.

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  52. oops, I meant The Korean, sorry. Here he would get an F for his essay, and a fair share of scolding in the best case. Or maybe he would have been repeat the whole school year, or start again in the 2 levels lower class(just like my nephew, who came back from the USA), or in the worst case, transferred to a special school, together with the mentally disabled, because he is not able to speak the language, just like them. Of course, he speaks a language, but not the language of the tuition, so this is his problem, and equals with being mentally disabled at this point. So he would have been stay there until he can use the language properly. Thank goodness, things are changing so it can't happen now, but 10-15 years ago, it wouldn't have been strange.

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  53. Or if he would have been rich enough, could learn at home from private teachers. Well, that would have been the best case, yeah.

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  54. tPA
    I think I can understand where you're coming from about the OVER emphasis asian parents put on their children to perform. As with any practice, you can go overboard, and I will be the first to agree having seen firsthand parents who have been too strict and demanding of their kids, that sometimes it is just too unrealistic to ask that much from kids. Of course that is a very tough line to draw, how do you know how strict is too strict? It's of course an individual parenting decision. I do agree that going too far overemphasizing performance in academics may have ill effects on children. The asian trait I think your are confusing here is not being strict disciplinarians, it is the idea of putting in EFFORT in everything you do. For example, if a kid puts in the time and works hard does homework diligently, studies, and still manages a B, I think many reasonable parents would consider that acceptable. What I and many asian parents would consider unacceptable, are kids that blow off class, don't put in time for homework, skims the textbook and does enough to pass a test to get a C. I really do empathize with the kids however that do put in the work, do try their best, and when they come up a little short their parents still aren't satisfied. THAT to me is definitely a problem.

    Moving away from that topic, I still have to disagree with your stance that education should not be given top priority for our kids. Yes, other aspects of life are important and should not be ignored such as socialization skills, artistic expression, etc.. and those things may be given EQUAL treatment, but not higher priority. As it is, America is already becoming under-educated, our test scores are lower, illiteracy rates going up, rankings wise we continue to fall and are being left behind the rest of the world.. To suggest that we should in any way de-emphasize the importance of academics in this country is already the direction we have been going, and to bad effect. It is really starting to bother me that we actually are starting to value people who brag about not knowing things or did not go to elite schools, most notably in politics. My point is, we should not be devaluing education in any way, if anything we should be tightening the screws not loosening them up.

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  55. tPA,

    1.
    The Korean is also keen on the problem of shrinking middle class, and the overemphasis on finance in American economy. The Korean agrees that it is not fair to characterize non-Asian minorities as "unambitious" and the like -- and he never made such characterization.

    But your prescription is far worse than the disease, because it ignores the fundamental reality of the world economy. To be sure, alternative to American model of development exists -- for example, Germany has a powerhouse economy through highly specialized manufacturing (e.g. its cars). But in any viable model of economic success, education is the absolute key. There is no leading economy in the world (in per capita basis) that is mostly fueled by people with less than a college degree. (Per capita basis employed to eliminate countries that do no more than arbitrage cheap labor, e.g. China, India.)

    2.
    Your critique of Asian American parenting is vague and unconvincing. First, the Korean is yet to see any specific harm caused by Asian American children receiving higher education and getting "good jobs." Sure, studying and working hard causes stress. But poverty causes a lot more ills.

    On the flip side, there is plenty of evidence that Asian Americans excel not only at academics or having "good jobs", but also at other areas that, to you, do not appear to require higher education -- as the Korean listed them in the post. If Asian American children are genuinely interested in areas other than academics, numerous examples show that Asian American parents will drive their children to success in those areas also.

    Given this, it is not persuasive to say that, in so many words, "If only other minorities are given their fair chance, they will excel at whatever they are good at." Be mindful that it is not as if Asian Americans are given a totally fair chance, as the discrimination that AAs face is real.

    (cont.)

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  56. (cont.)

    3.
    The Korean finds your church analogy to education completely inapposite, because they are designed to serve different purposes. Church seeks to save the attendee's souls; school seeks to train students such that they may function as a productive member of the society in a democratic and capitalist society. A school relies much more on impartation of knowledge than a church ever does. In a church, a person with even the most basic cognitive faculty will achieve her goal (i.e. be saved) as long as she believes at her utmost, regardless of specific knowledge in finer points of theology. In a school, such a person will simply not graduate.

    Human experience thus far has clearly demonstrated that advanced economy depends heavily on specialized knowledge. Such specialized knowledge can only be imparted in an institutional education. It requires certain methods to excel in such institutional education. This is not a matter of fairness. It is whether America continues to thrive as an advanced economy, or not. And if certain cultural traits, as you suggest, are not conducive to such success, those traits must be abandoned.

    The Korean is as aghast as anyone when it comes to "assimilationist" policies, like the burqa ban in France, for example. But there needs to be a line. America is able to accommodate so many different kinds of people precisely because it is so wealthy and so powerful. Lose that wealth and power, and diversity will be the first thing that goes.

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  57. America is able to accommodate so many different kinds of people precisely because it is so wealthy and so powerful. Lose that wealth and power, and diversity will be the first thing that goes.

    Explain, please.

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  58. @TK:

    May you assume that in Germany, and in France multiculturalism failed due to economic downturn?

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  59. Still...this whole argument is false from my point of view.

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  60. When it comes to time when budgets are tight, things of marginal benefit tend to get cut. Its fine now when the economy is doing relatively well, there is money for extra programs. Even if all the economy talk is doom and gloom it could be a lot worse. If the there are no longer grants and federal dollars for students with extra needs, there would be a push to forget about them. People would then demand that the money would be spent where it will get the most value.

    I think we can see a bit of this during the depression in the 1930s. Prior to it, there was a major push to try to assimilate Native Americans into the mainstream of the US. During the time the depression came, policies changed to where they were left alone to a much larger degree.

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  61. What exactly do you find false with it? Now I think it is more dynamic if a society goes form very accommodating to significantly less, but economics can play a factor. Now I doubt an economic downturn would cause it nation-wide, but an economic implosion could.

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  62. With respect to an over-emphasis on education, I think it depends on what you mean. When being educated I think it is only good for parents and the culture emphasizing on doing your best. Part of the problem though is that it can lead to an intellectual arrogance that can lead to problems.

    After a while in one's career education that one got from school becomes less and less important, as experience and continuing education becomes more and more important. Wisdom and organization can play a very important role depending on what one does, which may not be always be taught in school in the way it needs to be applied in one's role. Plus as can happen with people with arrogance, they can get blindsided. (Arrogance can come to those both educated and uneducated.)

    Now even though that may not be as tied directly to education, that is not an apology against it. Some may make that mistake and act on it. What one should do though, is to take seriously education, but remember it is not a substitute for good judgment.

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  63. Sometimes I just feel like this comment section is not enough for this blog to discuss it's topics. Sorry if The Korean thinks, it went too far already. I'm always trying to keep in mind, that this is a comment section anyways.

    @J Man

    Well, yes, my opinion is sg like in your last comment. American education needs changes? I really don't know, but okay. They need more discipline? Okay. Middle class is very important? Sure. But drawing a straight line, like if someone performs excellently in school, will get a good job, and with that directly contribute to the country's economical success...I don't like it. First of all, it's so economy-based, it's almost reminds me to the good old communism. And then, you can say, that such people may get blindsided, it's right, and I think it's even more serious. It is so much better, if it comes from their heart(no matter how much time does it take), if they longing for to create, to benefit others, to grow, than to rigidly and rationally chase success and achievement. I believe such individual, from the deep coming intentions made the biggest impact on human civilizations, and it's not gonna change.

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  64. Korean,

    - "...your prescription is far worse than the disease, because it ignores the fundamental reality of the world economy."

    This would be true if my prescription was for us to ignore economic reality. Ideally, my prescription would look more like this:

    A massive, New Deal-type investment in infrastructure by the government. President Obama took a step in this direction, but GOP opposition to everything acted to preemptively minimize the scope of the plan. Roads, airports, railways, power grids, water supply and sewer systems (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/opinion/26herbert.html?_r=1&ref=opinion) are all in need of major renovation and modern development. A plan of the appropriate size would solve the short-term issue of putting "low-skilled" workers back to work for quite a while. There is probably a decade worth of infrastructure work that if done would firmly position the U.S. as a growing power for the foreseeable future.

    - As opposed to simply pointing to the success of Asian Americans and saying "be like them", which is essentially what the model minority theory does, a more ambitious and concerted effort by the government and school districts to reach out to minority groups that are struggling academically and to be more accommodating to their unique set of skills and needs. In addition, responsibility lies in the hands of the leaders of these communities to better explain the importance of education and parental involvement in education. In their efforts to eliminate racism and find legal equality Black and Hispanic leaders have largely failed at this and both communities are worse off for it. Then Senator Obama briefly mentioned the need for Black students to embrace academic success in his 2004 DNC speech.

    (cont....)

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  65. - "Your critique of Asian American parenting is vague and unconvincing. First, the Korean is yet to see any specific harm caused by Asian American children receiving higher education and getting "good jobs." Sure, studying and working hard causes stress. But poverty causes a lot more ills."

    I was not attempting to critique, but simply point out flaws. Flaws exist in any culture and this is the reason that no cultural group should be held as a model for others. Of course there is no harm in children receiving higher education and getting "good jobs." I didn't argue that there is. Doing so would have been just plain stupid. The harm that I see lies in the pressure placed on children and young adults as well as in the perceived lack of emotional support that some Asian American children (who have been exposed to Western families) feel. The National Asian Women's Health Organization reports that "Asian American adolescent girls have the highest rates of depressive symptoms of all racial/ethnic and gender groups (https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Mental_Health_and_Depression_in_Asian_Americans.pdf&embedded=true&chrome=true&pli=1)" and that Asian American girls age 15-24 have the highest suicide rate across all racial/ethnic groups. The report also claims that "Asian American college students report higher levels of depressive symptoms than White students" and that "Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Korean immigrants consistently report higher numbers of depressive symptoms than Whites". Poverty is a terrible thing, but so is youth depression and suicide. While some of the factors leading to these symptoms may be genetic, I do not believe they are the sole factor.

    Again, my point is not to critique Asian American parenting styles, but instead point out that even the most "successful" group has serious flaws, thus my opposition to model minority theory.

    "Given this, it is not persuasive to say that, in so many words, "If only other minorities are given their fair chance, they will excel at whatever they are good at." Be mindful that it is not as if Asian Americans are given a totally fair chance, as the discrimination that AAs face is real."

    - I should have said "given a more fair chance, they stand a far greater chance to excel...", because it is unrealistic to expect a perfectly fair chance for everyone. However, it is a fact that Asians typically immigrate to the US with more social capital than Hispanics. The discrimination Asian Americans face is very real (I never argue against that) , but their higher level of social capital works to at least slightly level the playing field. I say this to in no way diminish A.A. accomplishments any more than I was "making excuses" for others, but instead a logica explanation.

    (continued...)

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  66. - "The Korean finds your church analogy to education completely inapposite, because they are designed to serve different purposes."

    My use of the church analogy was to point to cultural differences in the lecturer-listener relationship. The same differences seen in at church can be seen in a lecture by a Black leader to a Black audience and in a lecture to a White audience. Cultural styles differ. Blacks, and Hispanics of certain cultural backgrounds, tend to be more comfortable in settings that allow for a more open exchange between speaker and audience.



    There seems to be a cultural disconnect in this discussion. It seems as if some people believe that it is a moral imperative for education to be placed at the absolute peak of importance. I have been trying to argue that it is not wrong for a group to place other priorities alongside education. Sociology teaches us to view cultures and individuals in light of the opinion that the entire body of their experiences (environment, human relationships, socioeconomic status, etc..) shapes who people and cultures are. Let me briefly propose two different parenting perspectives:

    1. "I came to this country and initially lived with my aunt and uncle who have been here for a couple generations (as was often, but not always, the case for Asians for the first half of the 20th century due to racist immigration laws). My parents wanted me to have better academic and economic opportunities than they had. It is my role as a parent to ensure that my child receives the best education possible (at least college, if not post-graduate degree), so that they can get a good job and become secure and wealthy, which will lead to a happy life."

    2."I was an agricultural worker in my old country and earned $4.60 a day (approximate minimum daily wage in Mexico). I came to the United Sates for a better life for me and my kids. It is my role as a parent to provide my child with love, to support their interests (even if they are not in a high-paying field, because I think they can live a good, safe life even in the lower-middle class of America (and in comparison to Mexico and most of latin America this is true). Most importantly, I want to make sure that they have a better life than I did" (consider how little is required for this to happen).

    Is either one wrong? In my opinion, no, it depends on the long-term happiness of the child. Those on the other side from myself seem to think that Parent 1 is a better parent. While I disagree with that perspective wholeheartedly, I am glad that this forum allowed me an opportunity to know that that perspective exists. In fact, that is the very reason that I read this blog- I want to know how Koreans think even, and perhaps especially, when those thoughts differ from my own.

    Thanks again for your time...

    -TPA

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  67. P.S. I apologize for the abysmal punctuation. i am not sure hat happened...

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  68. TPA,

    "The discrimination Asian Americans face is very real (I never argue against that) , but their higher level of social capital works to at least slightly level the playing field."

    Social capital doesn't LEVEL the playing field. It just helps you do the best with what you've got. It doesn't give you more than what is out there.

    And social capital isn't something that just exists. People create it. Culture creates it. People can improve their social capital by striving to improve themselves and be better parents. It's not a static thing.

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  69. Itissaid,

    Large amounts of social capital tilts the "playing field" in a more level direction. Somebody with more money, that lives in a better neighborhood and whose ethnic group is stereotyped as being inherently strong in academics is in a better position to succeed than someone without those things working in their favor. This is an inarguable fact.

    - "And social capital isn't something that just exists. People create it. Culture creates it. People can improve their social capital by striving to improve themselves and be better parents. It's not a static thing. "

    Your reasoning:
    If social capital is created by good parenting and Asian Americans have more social capital than Hispanic American, then Asian Americans must be better parents.

    First, social capital may not "just exist", but it is something that exists in certain levels as soon as a person arrives in a place be it by birth or immigration.

    Second, "Be better parents" is a point that I am done contending with. I believe there are a multitude of factors beyond educational attainment and wealth that go into determining whether or not somebody is a good parent. I simply will never be able to reach any sort of consensus with anybody who believes by way of deduction that Asian American parents are better than Hispanic, Black or any of the numerous ethnic groups which have less social capital than Asian Americans.

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  70. itissaid,

    Much of American diversity depends on the fact that so many Americans are wealthy enough that they can all live a good life without worrying about what their neighbors are doing. Americans occupy (relative to the rest of the world) huge spaces individually, and the numberless playthings they have keep them from constantly brushing up against strange-looking people and flaring up tension. When those things are taken away, tolerance for diversity will decrease markedly.

    Phie,

    May you assume that in Germany, and in France multiculturalism failed due to economic downturn?

    The Korean never made that assumption. It is not as if the Korean studied Germany and France closely enough to know.

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  71. tPA,

    1. The Korean is also in favor of New Deal-type massive infrastructure investment. But that is only a temporary solution -- it does not sustain an economy in its own, as Japan has experienced it firsthand. To sustain an advanced economy in the long run, people must receive highly sophisticated education. The Korean does not know of any other way. He is happy to hear out any example you could give, however.

    2.
    I was not attempting to critique, but simply point out flaws.

    Hate to nitpick, but "pointing out flaws" appears to be the dictionary definition of "critique".

    Flaws exist in any culture and this is the reason that no cultural group should be held as a model for others.

    This is a strange statement, and the Korean is not certain if you mean exactly what you wrote. All models have flaws. There is no model in the world that is 100% applicable to everything. A model airplane is obviously not the real plane, but they fly all the same. A model plane obviously flies lower and slower, but there are things to be learned from a model plane's flight, extrapolated, and applied until we have a fast, high-flying machinery.

    Same with model minority theory. (And this is EXACTLY the point that the Korean made in the post.) The theory has some obvious, glaring flaws. But Asian Americans are on average successful, despite real difficulties. Is there really nothing for other Americans to learn from Asian Americans, just because AA's success comes at a certain cost?

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  72. 2. (cont.)
    Poverty is a terrible thing, but so is youth depression and suicide.

    This statement, to the Korean, shows a lack of sense of priority. Compared to the problem of poverty, the problems of youth depression and suicide are luxury items to have.

    3.
    My use of the church analogy was to point to cultural differences in the lecturer-listener relationship.

    Ok. But you still did not really address the Korean's point: is it not true that the church experience and the school experience are incomparably different, because they serve different purposes?

    The Korean is a church-goer also, and he has always loved attending traditionally black churches. The Korean is a friends with the bassist at the First Corinthian Church at Harlem, which is renowned for its gospel service, so he attended that church several times. It is a thrilling, deeply spiritual experience. The different sermon style is certainly conducive to different cultural sensibilities regarding spiritual salvation.

    BUT does that apply to education? Please answer this question. The Korean would love to hear that it does, but he so far has seen nothing that supports it.

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  73. 4.
    About the two parenting perspectives --

    The "goodness" of a parenting perspective can only be evaluated by the real-world results that it creates. The simple desire expressed in your option 2 has nothing bad or disagreeable on its face. But the result created by that option might be bad and/or disagreeable.

    You seem to see the child's long-term happiness is the only permissible external measure. The Korean respectfully disagrees. How is it a good idea to espouse a worldview that has the effect of condemning an entire racial/cultural group to a lower-ranking status in a society, such that Whites and Asians will become doctors, scientists and politicians while blacks and Hispanics will become gardeners, line cooks and mechanics (even though they might be happy gardeners, line cooks and mechanics?) How is it a good idea for a country to waste human resources, such that a person who could have been an innovative engineer with the appropriate education and culture instead is merely a content manual laborer?

    If the Korean may say this without sounding rude, it appears as if you do not consider very important America's international competitiveness as an advanced economy. Is that right?

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  74. I believe TPA's point is that even though different racial groups have different cultural characteristics that require different styles of instruction, they will all end up being happy and rich. How? It's perfectly OK to allow blacks and Hispanics to become manual laborers and line cooks because the government should use their power to redistribute the wealth that Asians and white doctors and engineers make to the black and Hispanic manual laborers and line cooks. This way, everyone is happy.

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  75. TPA,

    I think a parents should emphasize the individual strengths of their child, regardless of race.

    I don't think it is necessarily a great thing if an Asian parent forces their children to pursue academic subjects that may not be their strength. It is often overdone. But a little pressure isn't a bad thing. If the child is not academic in nature, then it would more appropriate for parents to allow them to pursue their passions, to a certain extent. Reality has to set in at some point.

    Conversely, if a Mexican immigrant happens to have a bright child who has enormous potential for academic success, and will be interested in those subjects, then I would be disappointed if the immigrant parent guided their children to a low-class job.

    You emphasize "happiness". I like that idea. But it can only be taken to a certain extent.

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  76. Korean,

    - "To sustain an advanced economy in the long run, people must receive highly sophisticated education. The Korean does not know of any other way. He is happy to hear out any example you could give, however."

    I agree that education is necessary for our nation's economic sustainability. That is what the second part of my "prescription" was devoted to.

    - "Hate to nitpick, but "pointing out flaws" appears to be the dictionary definition of "critique"."

    Nitpick away. I should have said that I was not trying to be critical of the overall method of Asian American parenting (I really need to do a better job of proofreading these things before I post them).

    - "Same with model minority theory. (And this is EXACTLY the point that the Korean made in the post.) The theory has some obvious, glaring flaws. But Asian Americans are on average successful, despite real difficulties. Is there really nothing for other Americans to learn from Asian Americans, just because AA's success comes at a certain cost?"

    Absolutely not. Most sociologists oppose model minority theory, but are always in favor of learning more about people. However, we feel those lessons should be taught in a more specific manner than the model minority theory promotes. For instance:

    Much can be learned from the success that Asian Americans have had academically. It is widely believed that one of the most significant factors in their success is the high level of emphasis that Asian American parents tend to place on education. Based on this, it is widely believed that other minority groups could see a rise in academic achievement if they were to place a greater degree of emphasis on education.

    We both agree that the relative success of Asian Americans should be examined in order to find ways to lift up other minorities. This can be done while rejecting the model minority myth. I am rejecting the theory (for the many reasons already mentioned in addition to the fact that it generalizes Asians, places additional societal pressures on them and diminishes positive results because they are expected) and supporting small aspects of it. I may be wrong, but it seems as if you support the theory (in general) because you agree with certain aspects of it. In my opinion, a theory=should be rejected if major portions of it are wrong and counterproductive. Perhaps we are arguing the same pint from different angles.

    - Me: Poverty is a terrible thing, but so is youth depression and suicide.
    You: "This statement, to the Korean, shows a lack of sense of priority. Compared to the problem of poverty, the problems of youth depression and suicide are luxury items to have."

    Your statement, to me, shows a DIFFERENCE in priority. Perhaps, it is due to the fact that I am from the US and have only experienced and witnessed poverty on a much less severe scale than is found elsewhere, but youth depression and suicide don't seem to be something that could ever be thought of as a luxury to me.

    - "Ok. But you still did not really address the Korean's point: is it not true that the church experience and the school experience are incomparably different, because they serve different purposes?"

    "BUT does that apply to education? Please answer this question. The Korean would love to hear that it does, but he so far has seen nothing that supports it."

    (cont...)

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  77. Korean (cont...),

    I suppose this depends on what you perceive the role of a preacher to be. In my mind, once you are at the church (or synagogue, mosque, etc...) the purpose shifts from trying to make you a believer to teaching you the details of the faith. The details may also serve to enhance faith, but that does not mean education is not a central component of the church experience. "The different sermon style is certainly conducive to different cultural sensibilities regarding spiritual salvation" as well as the impartation of knowledge of the faith. This is where I see the connection. My point is to make note of the different methods that certain cultures use to impart knowledge, regardless of the purpose of that knowledge. Song, dance, story telling, drawings, written accounts, and a combination of these are used by cultures around the world with great success. This is not to say that schools should offer lessons using each method, but it should be at least considered (especially when about 28% of the population is comprised of people who come form cultures that tend to favor a different method than the majority).

    - "The "goodness" of a parenting perspective can only be evaluated by the real-world results that it creates.

    I agree. I think we may slightly disagree about what results are most important.


    - "The simple desire expressed in your option 2 has nothing bad or disagreeable on its face. But the result created by that option might be bad and/or disagreeable."

    Wouldn't the same be true of option 1, or most parenting styles?

    - "You seem to see the child's long-term happiness is the only permissible external measure."

    Not the only measure, but amongst the most important along with health, safety and an opportunity to be a productive member of society.

    - "How is it a good idea to espouse a worldview that has the effect of condemning an entire racial/cultural group to a lower-ranking status in a society, such that Whites and Asians will become doctors, scientists and politicians while blacks and Hispanics will become gardeners, line cooks and mechanics (even though they might be happy gardeners, line cooks and mechanics?) How is it a good idea for a country to waste human resources, such that a person who could have been an innovative engineer with the appropriate education and culture instead is merely a content manual laborer?"

    That would be a horrible idea. I want blacks and Hispanics to do better and think that their doing so is imperative for their and the nation's well-being. I have simply been trying to explain the reasons for the different attitudes and that different priorities are not necessarily wrong. As I mentioned before, I believe Hispanic and black leaders need to do a better job emphasizing the importance of education.

    - "If the Korean may say this without sounding rude, it appears as if you do not consider very important America's international competitiveness as an advanced economy. Is that right?"

    Not rude, but also not correct. I want us to produce doctors, scientists and engineers at higher rates than the rest of the world. However, I also feel that our international competitiveness is dependent upon not just the populace's educational attainment, but also our ability to produce tangible goods. Those that produce those goods provide our society with a great service and should not (if highly-skilled in their particular field) be subjected to wages that place them in the lower-class. Does the man that builds our houses do less for society than a Harvard educated banker making millions through currency arbitrage? I don't think so and I do not feel that opinion means that I do not consider our international competitiveness important. I just believe that anybody that develops a useful and in-demand skill should be paid well enough to live in the middle-class regardless of their level of traditional educational attainment.

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  78. Somebody questioned my statement that the middle-class is shrinking. Here is a pretty startling piece from David Cay Johnston of Tax.com to support the claim:

    http://tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8AGMUZ?OpenDocument#

    "Every 34th wage earner in America in 2008 went all of 2009 without earning a single dollar, new data from the Social Security Administration show. Total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined, but at the very top, salaries grew more than fivefold...

    "The new data hold important lessons for economic growth and tax policy and take on added meaning when examined in light of tax return data back to 1950.

    "The story the numbers tell is one of a strengthening economic base with income growing fastest at the bottom until, in 1981, we made an abrupt change in tax and economic policy. Since then the base has fared poorly while huge economic gains piled up at the very top, along with much lower tax burdens...

    "This systematic destruction of the working class and middle class has come during an era notable for celebrating the super-rich just for being super-rich. From the Forbes 400 launch in 1982 and Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in 1984 to the faux reality of the multiplying Real Housewives shows, money voyeurism has grown in tandem with stagnant to falling incomes for the vast majority. There has also been huge income growth at the top and the economic children of income inequality: budget deficits and malign neglect of our commonwealth...

    "During the years from 1950 to 1980, the share of total income going to those at the top declined, and the real incomes of the vast majority grew much more quickly than did nearly all incomes at the very top."

    http://tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8AGMUZ?OpenDocument#

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  79. Comparing poverty with suicide, and suicide as a luxury -.- great. I'm deeply disappointed in you, as well as in your raising up. And you don't even wanna hear when others are pointing out your weaknesses. I guess I'm done with this blog, despite your excellent journalistic skills, it's no longer entertaining me.

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  80. @TPA wrt middle class

    Ok I'm a bit tired, to really give it a good fair critical read, but giving it the eye test, it would seem hard to extrapolate too much out from changes in the 08 numbers and the 09 numbers. Plus I don't like how he compared numbers from 1992 through 2000, then comparing the next nine years. Your comparing the difference between a recession to peak, to a peak to a recession. Then he goes on talking about the increase in income of the higher class.

    In the end I don't know if this really answers the question if the middle class is in general shrinking, and if so how significant is it shrinking. One problem is that it is difficult to really come up with an exact definition of the middle class, and how to quantify it. The ambiguity seems to make it easy for people with agendas to set the statistics to tell the story they want.

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  81. tPA,

    We both agree that the relative success of Asian Americans should be examined in order to find ways to lift up other minorities. This can be done while rejecting the model minority myth.

    How is it possible to simultaneously reject the model minority theory and to desire to examine the success of AAs to serve as a model for other minorities? At bottom, model minority theory is this: "AAs are broadly and in general successful despite certain difficulties they face as immigrants and minorities. Then, there must be something about AAs that work as a formula for success in American society, which can in turn be applied to other minorities." This is the major portion of the model minority theory, not the criticisms of the theory.

    Your statement, to me, shows a DIFFERENCE in priority. ... youth depression and suicide don't seem to be something that could ever be thought of as a luxury to me.

    First, the Korean suspects your data. According to NIH in 2007, Asian Americans have the lowest suicide rate by ethnicity in the United States. Of course the two studies are measuring different things, but the data that AA girls have the highest suicide rate and the data that AA overall has the lowest suicide rate (half of non-Hispanic white) are incongruent. Not to mention the fact that it is impossible to definitively trace any youth depression and suicide to parenting styles, as you acknowledged previously. (cont.)

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  82. (cont.)

    Second, even accepting your data as true, poverty is such a different magnitude of problem that juxtaposing it with youth depression and suicide is nearly laughable. Just to give a few quick examples, poverty contributes to the spread of AIDS. Poverty causes people to die from preventable types of cancer. And poverty (not Asian American parenting!) is a strong indicator of child abuse.

    In model minority theory, there is hope to find an answer for one of the greatest moral issues facing America today. This is why the Korean finds model minority theory impossible to reject wholesale.

    The details may also serve to enhance faith, but that does not mean education is not a central component of the church experience.

    If you don't mind the Korean asking -- are you religious? Do you attend church or other houses of worship? Just curious.

    Education is in fact a very important function of church, but it is not the overriding purpose -- again, the overriding purpose is the salvation of soul. So, for example, there is no real test of any form with respect to the knowledge so imparted in church.

    And the content of the education matters also. Nothing learned from church is overly technical, unlike the sophisticated knowledge that is required for advanced economy. In fact, the Korean did think of one religious education that can be somewhat technical -- learning Catholic catechism. It would be highly interesting to see a comparative study that examines the learning methods of catechism over different cultures. The Korean suspects that there will not be much difference.

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  83. However, I also feel that our international competitiveness is dependent upon not just the populace's educational attainment...

    Can you give the Korean just a few concrete examples in which international competitiveness as an advanced economy does not necessarily depend on educational attainment? (The "advanced economy" is meant to eliminate the obvious example, i.e. taking advantage of cheap labor. That is not where we want America to go, presumably.) In other words, is there any case in which an advanced economy is sustained without resorting to education? (And the Korean will even define education narrowly as "college education and beyond".)

    Does the man that builds our houses do less for society than a Harvard educated banker making millions through currency arbitrage?

    Allow the Korean to tweak the question a bit. "Does the foreman who leads a crew of men building houses do less for the economy than an MIT-educated engineer building cars that go 200 miles per gallon of oil?"

    The Korean fully agrees that "Those that produce those goods provide our society with a great service and should not (if highly-skilled in their particular field) be subjected to wages that place them in the lower-class." But then the question is -- is there any case in which such high skills can be attained in modern, advanced economy without at least college education? The Korean is very doubtful. And if you indeed "want us to produce doctors, scientists and engineers at higher rates than the rest of the world," how can that be possible without putting education at the highest priority, given that the rest of the world (that is worth competing against) is indeed putting education at the highest priority?

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  84. Part of the explanation is likely due to human biodiversity. Groups evolved in different cultures and environments so developed a different distribution of traits.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7265/full/461726a.html

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2007/01/metric-on-space-of-genomes-and.html

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  85. Let's go through theProgressive American's clownish reasoning

    1. "Therefore, it is important to consider what "model minority group" means. In our hyper-capitalist society, which has been fed the idea that Hispanics are stealing jobs, beheading people in the desert and Blacks and Hispanics are criminals who are leaching off the entitlement system, "model minority" means
    a group that doesn't do those things."

    Model Minority means: has a positive academic and professional "achievement" gap and does not have a positive antisocial behavioral gap, as defined in terms of crime rate, government dependency, etc. It could be operant defined in terms of Affirmative and intervention programs needed. Having achievement gaps is a problem, because progressives deem that ethnic/racial groups should have equal representation across occupations -- or, at least, that "people of color" should not be underrepresented in "important" areas.

    2. "How you can wonder how I, or any person capable of dissecting a sentence, could not see the racist and ethnocentric tones of your comments is baffling."

    Given that the definition of "racism" and "ethnocentrism" keeps "progressing," what would you expect?

    3. "Your Statement-

    "East Asians also work harder at academics than all other groups."
    How this comment is ethnocentric and/or racist- Ethnocentrism is defined by the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology as the "belief that the norms, values, ideology, customs, and traditions of ones own culture or subculture are superior to those characterizing other cultural settings." You clearly are stating an ethnocentric belief that East Asian academic work ethic is the best in the world."

    Point 1. You seem to imply that the custom of being racist/ethnocentric is somehow inferior, per se, to that of being non-racist/non-ethnocentric. Which makes you racist/ethnocentric. Of course, I am sure that you think your racism/ethnocentrism is, somehow, superior, per se, to the other kind. That just shows how deeply you are embedded in it.

    Point 2.
    You seem not to comprehend the above definition. "Ethnocentric" is a belief in the axiological superiority (read: intrinsic value) of a group or, by the given definition, the axiological superiority (read: intrinsic value) of the norms, values, ideology, customs, and traditions of a group. It is NOT the belief in the INSTRUMENTAL superiority (read: extrinsic value) of some groups or norms, values, ideologies, customs, and traditions.

    Intrinsic: Norm A is better than/superior to, per se, norm B (Often written: norm A is Better than/superior to norm B)
    Example: A norm of non-ethnocentrism is superior, per se, to a norm of ethnocentrism.

    Instrumental: Norm A is better than/superior to norm B at...(increasing productivity, etc)
    Example: A norm of non-ethnocentrism is superior to a norm of ethnocentrism at fostering inclusion.

    Intrinsic: Group A is better than/superior to, per se, Group B.
    Instrumental: Group A is better than/superior to group B at....(Working) (Often written: Group A has a superior work ethic).

    Qualifying terms such and 'at' and 'for' distinguish intrinsic from instrumental.

    Point 3.
    In the quoted statement, Askakorean does not say that East Asians are superior, per se. Rather, he says that East Asians have a superior work ethic. Nor does he say that superior work ethics are superior, per se (i.e. intrinsically valuable). There is no claim of intrinsic superiority. Rather there is a claim to the instrumental value of having a superior work ethic -- they produce nice and beneficial results.

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  86. chuck, stay on topic please. Thanks.

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  87. AskaKorean said: "Why don't people care more about why Asian Americans succeed? ... Shouldn't all Americans do what Asian Americans are doing? Shouldn't that be the greatest contribution of Asian American Studies as a scholarly discipline?"

    I agree.

    While I haven't had time to look into Asian success. The article below is a nice discussion of theories on Jewish success. I imagine there are parallels. The factors mentioned are:

    1. Human capital
    2. Jewish cultural particularities
    3. Jewish minority status
    4. And what the author favors: Social Capital -- basically, group cohesion and in group networking

    How cohesive is the Korean/Asian-American community?

    Burstein (2006). “Jewish Education and economic success in the united states: A search for an explanation.”

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  88. Korean,

    How is it possible to simultaneously reject the model minority theory and to desire to examine the success of AAs to serve as a model for other minorities?

    This is possible for a few reasons:
    1. In the conclusion of your original post you stated, "We are indeed the model minority, in the true sense of the word -- the model which all of America would do well to take notice and learn from." When you say that AAs are "the" model minority you are ignoring, or at the very least diminishing, the significant achievements of other groups that have succeeded and are succeeding now. I reject the portion of the theory that you seem to be endorsing that states that AAs are the group that we should be learning from. I do not think that studies should be limited to AAs. There are numerous successful minorities and immigrant groups (Black African immigrants an Iranian to name two) that are just as successful as AAs. By studying numerous groups from various ethnic groups we may find which traits are most helpful to each particular group. This could either help to establish particular customs as being conducive to success regardless of culture, or could serve to show that each group must find their own path to success.
    2. Our understanding of model minority theory differs. Your general definition -"AAs are broadly and in general successful despite certain difficulties they face as immigrants and minorities. Then, there must be something about AAs that work as a formula for success in American society, which can in turn be applied to other minorities"- is not what I understand the model minority theory to be defined as based on its origins and general use. From my understanding, the phrase "model minority" originated in a piece (http://tinyurl.com/26ch2m8) in NY Times magazine by William Petersen, which lauded Japanese-Americans for overcoming enormous obstacles to achieve unparalleled success. Unfortunately, the wrong lesson was learned from the article. It was not that the Japanese are inherently better or that the US was a strict meritocracy which rewarded exactly what was earned, but that a combination of factors were to be credited and that those should be examined. Those interested in combating assistance to African Americans and other minorities made claims like, “At a time when it is being proposed that hundreds of billions be spent to uplift Negroes and other minorities, the nation’s 300,000 Chinese Americans are moving ahead on their own, with no help from anyone else (US News and World Report, 1966)." What had begun as the theory that you seem to be referring to quickly became something else- the bastardized version that I oppose.

    - "If you don't mind the Korean asking -- are you religious? Do you attend church or other houses of worship? Just curious."

    Yes, and yes, but not every week. Again, I am simply attempting to point out different situations in which people of different cultures are most comfortable receiving. I just discussed this with four friends and two of them think that the different goals of church and school exclude them from use for the purpose of comparison. That being the case, I highly doubt we will be able to resolve this point via an internet discussion limited to 4,000 characters at a time.


    - "is there any case in which an advanced economy is sustained without resorting to education? (And the Korean will even define education narrowly as "college education and beyond".)"

    We need to increase our college education rates, but also need to maintain the possibility of maintaining an American middle-class standard of living for those in blue-collar jobs. I believe that trade schools could be an effective tool in achieving this as an increasingly skilled workforce would make it increasingly difficult to outsource jobs without a noticeable impact on quality. Do you believe we can sustain an advanced economy if we rely solely on white-collar jobs?

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  89. Korean (continued),


    -"And if you indeed "want us to produce doctors, scientists and engineers at higher rates than the rest of the world," how can that be possible without putting education at the highest priority, given that the rest of the world (that is worth competing against) is indeed putting education at the highest priority? "

    Again, I simply believe that there should be other priorities held as EQUALLY important to education. Are health and happiness really controversial? Not enough can be said of the importance that American character traits have had on the success of America. American character is the product of a multitude of factors, including our heterogeneous society. This would change if all Americans were all to emulate AAs and place education as THE top priority. Some groups should clearly place greater emphasis, but must they place the same as AAs in order for us to maintain our standing? We may fare better in certain areas while losing ground in others. Just something to consider.

    Are New Zealand, Australia and Canada not nations worth competing with? They are all highly ranked in education, but we are very similar culturally. I am not sure a simple shift in emphasis would account for the entire performance gap, unless that emphasis were to come by way of the government properly supporting education (including stronger minority outreach for those that are struggling) without conservative complaints about spending. I believe these issues are simply far, far too complex to believe that focusing solely on AAs can be the difference. For instance, is it possible that our 50 + plus years of hawkish behavior is taking a toll on our country? I think our education system would be in pretty good shape if we would have taken the money spent in Iraq and invested it in education.

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  90. I think both TPA and the Korean have different views on the models. After the story about looking at S. Korea to use in Afghanistan, I think the Korean is more than happy to say that there may be all kinds of reasons that may not be applicable, but you can see what is useful. If I don't quite have that right, please clear it up if you want.

    The way that I see it the Model Minority Theory may make for great coffee table talk, but should just be set aside if one needs to try to come up with some sort of policy. The models you may want to use should be way more specific to actually address the specific issue. Otherwise you tend to waste a lot of time, money, and effort and could end up with an ineffective solution.

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  91. I will respond to tPA even though he appears to be ignoring my and those of people who support HBD/the truth. So, stop ignoring me and engage my arguments.

    "Again, I simply believe that there should be other priorities held as EQUALLY important to education. Are health and happiness really controversial? Not enough can be said of the importance that American character traits have had on the success of America."

    "This could either help to establish particular customs as being conducive to success regardless of culture, or could serve to show that each group must find their own path to success."

    I agree with you that measuring success by financial outcome is a flawed idea. There is much more to life than money. But will you be satisfied if all groups "succeed" even though there is large difference in financial outcome?

    I don't support the idea that the Korean and others have put forth, which is to make NAMs emphasize education as much as Asians. That is wrong and misguided. The majority of NAMs are not suited for that kind of academic pursuit. The ones who are intellectually gifted and passionate should be encouraged to pursue a college education and beyond. It hurts me to think that there are brilliant NAMs out there whose parents think that they should become janitors. Another problem is that a lot of smart NAMs are wasting their talent by using it to get degrees in "NAM-studies" and the like, then preceding to work in "social justice" fields where they try to destroy America by promoting diversity, resource redistribution, and amnesty for all illegals.

    Blacks are more outgoing and athletic than Asians. Because the free-market works in professional sports, many blacks have taken advantage of this opportunity and are overrepresented in many professional sports such as the NFL and the NBA. In the athletic sense, blacks are a model minority. Because blacks are outgoing, perhaps emphasis should be made on directing them to suitable professions that take advantage of their particular set of abilities, such as sales (um, of legal nature, of course).

    That is not to say that your race should determine what profession you go into. This is a wrong and misguided view. Individuals are individuals. Blacks who happen to have the necessary intellectual makeup for a profession like engineering and enjoy doing it should be encouraged. Asians who don't want to go into traditionally Asian professions But is it too much to expect that people of different races and cultures will be unevenly distributed among the range of occupations and that there still may be "gaps" in financial outcome? I want to maximize happiness for every individual. But somehow I get the feeling that financial success is especially important to lower-class people, so much that the urban black is overwhelmingly in favor of wealth redistribution that takes wealth away from productive people to subsidize their unproductive and often excessive dietary lifestyles. People are always jealous of what other people have(financially, though higher-IQ people who have the capability for greater introspection tend to have greater concerns, with respects to Maslow).

    Therein lies the core of my confusion with TPAs arguments. Will he accept the outcome that some groups may be more financially successful than others?

    I agree with the TPA, a lot of the wealth in America is concentrated in the value-transferrers, the Harvard MBAs, the T14 law graduates working at BIGLAW (cough, cough), etc. I don't like it either.

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  92. At some point, PARENTS, not schools, not the government, and not the community need to take responsibility. If you want your kids to do well, nurture and connect them with the resources that will help them do well. It doesn't require money (too much) to do well in school.

    I think TPA has a problem with the "model minority" ideal because it is seen as the perfect ideal, that the only way people can have value or happiness is if they do well academically and financially. I don't think that's what people on this board are saying. But if groups want to acquire greater academic success, wouldn't it help them to at least look at how Asian Americans have succeeded in America? I'm sure SOMETHING could be learned.

    You can complain all you want and say that governments have a responsibility. Governments do not have a responsibility to raise your children. If you don't want to be a proper parent, give them up for adoption. Take some responsibility and don't just do a good enough job. "Good enough" really isn't good enough for a parent.

    Obviously, the model followed by some groups does not work as they do not have satisfactory (to them) levels of academic/financial achievement. So if it doesn't work, why complain? If you don't like the Asian model, create or find your own model. It really is up to the parents in the end.

    The only model that works are parents who are concerned about their children and connect them with the proper resources to do well. I've seen many working class parents do that, so it is possible.

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  93. "I will respond to tPA even though he appears to be ignoring my and those of people who support HBD/the truth.  So, stop ignoring me and engage my arguments."

    I have engaged with The Korean in what has been a respectful, well thought out exchange of facts, ideas and questions. I ignore your posts (and those of others) because they are laden with racism, make unfounded assumptions about my position (when have I mentioned wealth redistribution?) and have ignored every fact presented. Have you even glanced at the educational attainment and income averages of Black African immigrants in the US, Canada and the U.K.? Doing so would all but destroy the entire premise of your argument. Also, with all due respect, this is a sociological question and I have not seen much to show me that many of those who have attacked me are even remotely qualified to discuss this topic with any semblance of authority. The only productive aspect of many of these posts has been that it has served to stregthen the arguments that two of the problems with the model minority myth are that it serves as a crutch to racists and that it pits minority groups against one another.

    - "I agree with you that measuring success by financial outcome is a flawed idea.  There is much more to life than money.  But will you be satisfied if all groups "succeed" even though there is large difference in financial outcome?"

    Yes, if wages are more representative of the value that jobs provide to society. I would challenge anyone to produce evidence that this is not something that was not in rapid decline for the overwhelming number of years from 1980-1992 and 2000-2008.

    - "The majority of NAMs are not suited for that kind of academic pursuit."  

    Why? And again, IQ scores are not evidence that would be accepted by even the most lenient critical analysis.

    -"It hurts me to think that there are brilliant NAMs out there whose parents think that they should become janitors."

    Do you honestly believe there are a significant number of NAM parents that say, "you should be a janitor when you grow up"? Have you ever spent time with a NAM?

    - "Another problem is that a lot of smart NAMs are wasting their talent by using it to get degrees in "NAM-studies" and the like, then preceding to work in "social justice" fields where they try to destroy America by promoting diversity, resource redistribution, and amnesty for all illegals."

    Right, because there is nothing more destructive to America, a nation of immigrants, than diversity and social justice. Martin Luther King Jr. sure did "waste his talent" by promoting those things.

    "Amnesty" doesn't even deserve a response. It's one of the top 5 most preposterous conservative talking points.

    - "Because blacks are outgoing, perhaps emphasis should be made on directing them to suitable professions that take advantage of their particular set of abilities, such as sales (um, of legal nature, of course)."

    Could you not help but finish with a racist flourish? It seems to be your stylistic fingerprint.

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  94. tPA,

    When you say that AAs are "the" model minority you are ignoring, or at the very least diminishing, the significant achievements of other groups that have succeeded and are succeeding now.

    Wow. The single use of a definite article erases other groups achievements?

    Excuse the Korean's shortness, but this is one of the reasons why he has such a hard time taking seriously the critics of model minority theory (or Asian American Studies/Ethnic Studies types) -- they are generally all too eager to "discover" a discriminatory subtext wherever remotely possible. Normal discourse is all but impossible, because every single word has be accompanied with 10 more words of disclaimer. Even as an attorney, the Korean cannot write an article meant for a casual reader as if he is writing a legal instrument.

    What had begun as the theory that you seem to be referring to quickly became something else- the bastardized version that I oppose.

    So you basically agree with the Korean? Recall, the OP said: "We are indeed the model minority, in the true sense of the word."

    Do you believe we can sustain an advanced economy if we rely solely on white-collar jobs?

    In some economies, actually yes -- Britian is heavily reliant on white collar jobs, and it is nonetheless an advanced economy.

    But that is not the point that the Korean ever made. The Korean does agree that for American economy, manufacturing must be emphasized more. That's why he gave the example of an MIT-educated engineer. But the bottom line is this: you cannot have an advanced economy without a populace with high education, the kind received in graduate schools, not trade schools.

    Are New Zealand, Australia and Canada not nations worth competing with?

    NO. Those countries, as nice as they are, are no more than junior varsity members of world politics and economy. America is the quarterback and the captain of the football team.

    I believe these issues are simply far, far too complex to believe that focusing solely on AAs can be the difference.

    OP clearly said this: "Obviously, model minority theory cannot explain everything about Asian Americans, or success in America. No theory is perfect; if you follow only one theory to guide your life, you will be seriously wrong and badly lost."

    It appears that you actually agree with the Korean, because at the end of the day the conclusion is irresistible -- AAs are, broadly speaking, succeeding wildly despite many significant obstacles, and there are things to learn from their success.

    You are going through all kinds of contortions just to get away from making the statement that "Yes, the model minority theory, in proper context, is correct and useful." What's the point of that?

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  95. J Man,

    After the story about looking at S. Korea to use in Afghanistan, I think the Korean is more than happy to say that there may be all kinds of reasons that may not be applicable, but you can see what is useful. If I don't quite have that right, please clear it up if you want.

    Exactly right. The Korean cannot understand why people toss away the entire concept without attempting to pick up what is useful from the concept.

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  96. In response to:

    Do you honestly believe there are a significant number of NAM parents that say, "you should be a janitor when you grow up"? Have you ever spent time with a NAM?

    ... the Korean will share a story.

    The Korean has mentored an inner city high school student for several years, since the kid was a freshman. (Let's call him JN for now.) JN is a Dominican kid living in Brooklyn. He is very bright, and receives As and Bs. JN is now a senior and studying for SATs.

    When JN was a sophomore, he came to a meeting with the Korean with a story of what he did over the weekend. He somehow hooked up with a person who sold hats and gears near the Giants Stadium for the football game. JN talked about how he had to evade the police a little bit, but otherwise beamed that he earned money:

    TK: "So how much did you earn doing that?"
    JN: "300 dollars."
    TK: "How long did it take you to earn that? I mean total."
    JN: "Like 10 hours?"
    TK: "300 dollars, is that a lot of money?"
    JN: "Yeah."
    TK: "Do you know that my law firm charges my client $400 for one hour of my time? And I don't have to leave my office or get away from the cops for that."

    JN's eyes widened. He had no idea.

    Starting at that point, the Korean drilled into JN what may be fairly considered "Asian" values -- that success comes through a professional occupation, and hard work at school is what gets you that occupation. JN now wants to be a PR person for celebrities. His dream school is USC, and the Korean thinks he will make it.

    So no, there is no parent who tells his/her children that they should become a janitor when they grow up. But there are plenty of parents -- for whatever reason -- do not let their children know what is out there. What is more, when those children get a wind of what is out there, they want it like they want nothing else.

    Was the Korean being culturally insensitive? Should he have considered JN's unique Dominican heritage before he polluted it with the cultural imperialism of Asian Americans? Whatever. Label his action however you want. But with college education, JN will take a concrete step toward his dream that he previously did not even know he had. And the Korean does not have to apologize for that.

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  97. TK: "Do you know that my law firm charges my client $400 for one hour of my time? And I don't have to leave my office or get away from the cops for that."

    Does the Korean think his time is worth $400 an hour? Does the Korean work in BIGLAW?

    Tpa writes, "Yes, if wages are more representative of the value that jobs provide to society"

    For the record, I highly doubt that BIGLAW wages are representative of the value that it provides to society. Sorry, a bit of an ad hominem attack...

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  98. =- "Even as an attorney, the Korean cannot write an article meant for a casual reader as if he is writing a legal instrument. "

    I understand that you are attempting to write articles for casual readers, and not a lock-solid legal argument. However, the use of "the" in the context that it was used- preceding your suggestion that "Asian Americans are the model which ALL of America would do well to take notice and learn from"- seemed to suggest that you believe that AAs are doing things better than everyone. This sentiment is the one that I take issue with and that is often seen in arguments in support of the theory and has been echoed by a number of respondents to the post. I apologize for nitpicking if that was not what you were suggesting.


    -"So you basically agree with the Korean? Recall, the OP said: "We are indeed the model minority, in the true sense of the word.""

    No, I believe that many AAs are a great success story and that story, as well as those of other successful minority groups, should be given greater publicity. If by "true sense of the word" you mean what was written in the initial article then I would still argue that the initial article introduced the term in a way that ignored other groups and failed to recognize the true depth of the challenges faced by others.


    -"You are going through all kinds of contortions just to get away from making the statement that "Yes, the model minority theory, in proper context, is correct and useful." What's the point of that?"

    The point is that the model minority theory does not actually exist in the "proper context" that you are supporting. Your version of the theory, which took shape in the OP and discussion, is far more palatable and useful than the theory that is promoted for use. The model minority theory is what it is- a theory that encourages the study and emulation of AAs, because of a belief that their "success" is superior to any other minority group. We have seen this repeatedly in the posts by other participants in the discussion. Your proposal is a reasonable and wise deviation from the theory, but a deviation nonetheless. You are essentially supporting a theory by keeping the name and changing the contents. It is more productive to dismiss the theory and state, as you have, how the success of AAs can be of use to society as a whole. By not dismissing the theory and placing your beliefs under the umbrella of that theory you are allowing for the use of your reasonable points by unreasonable people with unreasonable positions. I'm sure we can all think of many examples of particular elements of bad theories or policies that we agree with.

    - "Was the Korean being culturally insensitive? Should he have considered JN's unique Dominican heritage before he polluted it with the cultural imperialism of Asian Americans? Whatever. Label his action however you want. But with college education, JN will take a concrete step toward his dream that he previously did not even know he had. And the Korean does not have to apologize for that. "

    Absolutely not. And I may be wrong, but I feel as if the lessons you espoused were things that are not necessarily absent from his culture, but instead his immediate environment. I also think that it is important to keep in mind that JN probably had no clue about the money that attorneys make, because his parents have no idea what they make. Your experiences and knowledge are bridging a gap for JN and that is a great thing. Not enough can be said about the importance of exposing young people to opportunities that they may not have known existed. You are taking on the role which I called for successful NAMs to take on. Instead, many flee from their old neighborhoods in an effort to remove themselves from the problems and dangers that have claimed so many others. I genuinely applaud and appreciate your work with this young man. Thank you.

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  99. The fact that you have an academic background in sociology does not make your arguments any more valid nor does it make you immune to criticism. I do not hold in high regard much of the work done in sociology. To me, the most convincing arguments in sociology are the ones that have incorporated evolutionary psychology. The social sciences, as you are probably aware, are not isolated subjects. The best social scientists are the ones that are able to look outside the confines of their own specialty, by collaborating with scholars and gathering data from a variety of intersecting disciplines.

    "Do you honestly believe there are a significant number of NAM parents that say, "you should be a janitor when you grow up"? Have you ever spent time with a NAM?"

    That was an exaggeration to highlight the idea that has been floating around in this discussion that some NAM parents have low expectations for their children. Which I think is a tragedy, btw. I highly doubt there exists any parent (regardless of race) who would like their children to become janitors, but since Japan hasn't yet developed robots that are cheaper than humans, there continues to be a need for janitors in this society, like it or not.

    "Do you believe we can sustain an advanced economy if we rely solely on white-collar jobs?"

    America needs blue collar jobs as well. In Korea, where 80% of students go to college, many students graduate with poor job prospects. Can you say overeducated/credentialed? Not everyone in America is suited for a white-collar job. Graduate degrees in STEM fields and perhaps MBAs in marketing (because that's really all that America has going for it) should be emphasized. Keeping blue-collar manufacturing jobs in America will require protectionism. America just can't compete in price with the developing world.

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  100. I personally would not like to see everyone in America acting like Asians. That would make for a very boring society.

    I am surprised that you people know what the acronym "NAM" stands for. Most people don't because it is a term that originates from the HBD blogosphere, which is of course, a place for evil racists like myself :D

    "NO. Those countries, as nice as they are, are no more than junior varsity members of world politics and economy. America is the quarterback and the captain of the football team. "

    This is quickly changing. Seen the Chinese professor ad? America is now like her team, the Dallas Cowboys.

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  101. I would say it really depends on your definition of success. I have no doubt that if all the students in my hagwon were shipped to the U.S. and their parents put the same pressure on them to succeed, they would shortly take over as the top 20% of pretty much any U.S. high school they landed in (even the Korean kids who are considered fuck-ups over here, they're still more booksmart than most U.S. kids).

    This could lead to them going to a better college and getting a better job, yes.

    But I don't necessarily consider this success, and that isn't just sour grapes.

    For me success is being happy. And most of the kids in my hagwon aren't happy, and a lot of Korean adults don't seem happy in a way that people with a more Western mindset would necessarily regard as "happy." Meaning, these kids are pushed to study as hard as law students through middle school and high school, then they're prodded towards certain successful careers, never mind what they might actually want to do.

    Will that lead to success in a country where your parents' word is still law? Sure it will. Will it lead to happiness? Maybe. But I don't think it would possibly lead to happiness for someone with Western-style expectations of free-time, hobbies, and freedom to choose one's own life path.

    Anyway, I think the kids at my hagwon are successful in a material way because they live in a Confucian culture where they must obey their parents, and their parents are pushing for academic and career success at all costs. Even the kids who aren't too bright are constantly under pressure and work harder than most kids back home.

    But I pity them. They're not getting a real childhood and as for playing many of them are hooked on computer games, which is maybe all they have time for. As for the Asian-American kids, I can only suspect that there's some residual cultural imperative towards material success and obedience while the Western-style households are operating on "Free to be you and me" and the expectation that kids will work hard but not necessarily hard enough to break a sweat.

    I'm not terribly successful in a material sense, myself, since I'm teaching English overseas at age 33. But I think I've learned a lot about living and loving over my time here on Earth, whereas if I had been pushed towards a career, I think I would not have the rich spiritual and emotional life I have today though I might be a lawyer with a Beemer.

    I'll take what I have, I guess, though I do think that I could have studied a bit harder.

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  102. you're right except re: literature. everyone knows that the only real luminaries there continue to be white men. why is that, i wonder?

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  103. After reading this post and all the readers' comments, I want to bring up something that I find both fascinating and disturbing. Does anyone else agree that "Asian" & "Asian-American" is an over-used adjective here in America? Can The Korean or anyone give us some info on the origin and linguistic history of "Asian" being used as an adjective stretching far beyond geography? When did Americans begin calling everyone from the largest and most diverse continent on earth Asian, and Asian-American? I rarely hear people use the other continents in the adjective form as much as Asians. (I would say Africans are a close 2nd). Is this a part of White Americans and their white-centric perspective? It seems like the contemporary English language has many white-centric biases. Do we lump all Mexicans, Canadians, and Americans together and call them "North Americans"? (I realize that in the Korean language, everyone that's not Korean are called "foreigners.") But I find it disturbing that so many Americans assume everyone from Asia have more similarities than differences. It doesn't do justice to how diverse this group is. I'm sure the US Census has a lot to do with how people use these terms. It's the best and most convenient way for the Census to conduct their work. But I do hope that people begin to recognize how vast and diverse Asia is, and that "Asian-American" will slowly fall out of the English language(except to describe geography).

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  104. The question is whether all minorities, and whites too, should attempt to learn from the Asian model.

    First of all, if Asian success is due to IQ, then it's genetic, and the IQ difference will manifest itself no matter what. Kids with high IQs will tend to excel academically, and kids with lower IQs will not, despite the best efforts of parents and educators. We cannot 'emulate' people of higher IQ and it is unwise to try.

    Second of all, suppose Asian success is not due or due only partially to IQ. Perhaps it is due to hard work and constant focus on academic achievement. If so, it's not necessarily a good idea for everyone to emulate this. When everyone competes for the same goal, it just makes life harder for everyone so society as a whole ends up losing. Western society would not necessarily be better or happier if it adopted the attitude to education typical of Japan or Korea (it might not even be better academically, given that the model minority goal is material rather than purely academic). It's better for people to pursue goals where they have a reasonable chance of success (which is partly a matter of having a natural advantage in some area but partly also a matter of finding an unfilled niche).

    I believe the solution to minority problems and to everyone's problems lies in re-creating a high growth economy where the benefits are shared more equitably, as happened in the 50s and 60s. It's great for Asians if they're doing better at getting into the middle class than everyone else, but right now it just isn't true that everyone can make it into the middle class if they try.

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  105. Don't most asians that come over HAVE MONEY anyway?

    Plus, aren't suicides in Japan incredibly high among High School students?

    They are, which means that there certainly is a culture to succeed. But it can also be far too intense for some.

    But yeah, I have no problem with the answer.

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