08-08_Sue+_+Okazaki+_2009_+Asian-American+educational+achievements%2C+A+phenomenon+in+search+of+an+e

08-08_Sue+_+Okazaki+_2009_+Asian-American+educational+achievements%2C+A+phenomenon+in+search+of+an+e

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Unformatted text preview: Asian-American Educational Achievements: A Phenomenon in Search of an Explanation Stanley Sue and Sumie Okazaki University of California, Los Angeles Considerable attention has been paid to the academic achievements of Asian Americans because there is convergent evidence that this population has attained high educational mobility. In trying to explain the achievement patterns, researchers have largely limited their investigations to one of two contrasting hypotheses involving (a) hereditary differences in intelligence between Asians and Whites and (b) Asian cultural values that promote educational endeavors. Research findings have cast serious doubt over the validity of the genetic hypothesis. Yet, there has been a failure to find strong empirical support for alternative hypothesis concerning cultural values. It is proposed, under the concept of relative functionalism, that Asian Americans perceive, and have experi- enced, restrictions in upward mobility in careers or jobs that are unrelated to education. Consequently, education assumes importance, above and beyond what can be predicted from cultural values. Research and policy implications of this view are noted. Great concern has been expressed over the educational achievements of American students in general and of ethnic minority students in particular. In 1984, Skinner wrote an article entitled The Shame of American Education. Skinners article lamented the educational me- diocrity of American schools in terms of student achievements, motivational levels, and learning. Spence (1985), in her American Psychological Association Presidential Address, also noted the lack of excellence in schools, especially in fos- tering the learning of math and science. Indeed, there has been growing concern that Americans are falling behind students from other countries in educational achievements. The problems are particularly apparent in the schooling of ethnic minority students, such as Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians, who show lower levels of educational attainments, grades, graduation rates, and school persistence (see California State Department of Education, 1986). In ethnic minority research, one of the most remarkable phenomena has been the high edu- cational achievements demonstrated by some Asian-American groups over the last four de- cades. Although Asian Americans have been subjected to similar prejudice and discrimina- tory practices encountered by other ethnic mi- nority groups, their educational attainments have been increasing. In this article we examine the achievements and two of the major expla- nations that have been proposed for the achieve- ments of Asian Americans, involving possible hereditary or culturally advantages. The topic, of course, is highly controversial. Genetic ex- planations for racial or ethnic group differences in intelligence and achievements have gener- ated intense debates. Even attributing Asian- American achievements to cultural factors can result in disputes involving cultural superior-...
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08-08_Sue+_+Okazaki+_2009_+Asian-American+educational+achievements%2C+A+phenomenon+in+search+of+an+e

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