Asian-Americans and Asian Jews and Their Reputation Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1714 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Race

¶ … Asian-Americans and Asian Jews and their reputation for academic success. The writer examines classroom, family and societal contributors to that reputation's development. There were six sources used to complete this paper.

Racial Reputations for Academic Excellence Explored

Society has dealt with stereotypes since the beginning of time. Whether those stereotypes were racially, ethnically or otherwise motivated they have continued to pervade the mindset of those who coexist on earth. One prevalent stereotype in America is the idea that Asian-Americans and American Jews have a reputation for academic excellence. It is such a strong believe in American society that one highly desirable magnet high school in the nation required Asian applicants to score higher on entrance exams than any other race to obtain a space in the school. While stereotypes are often wrong or founded in untruths, the reputation of Asian-Americans and American Jews for academic excellence can be traced to cultural beliefs and tradition within the race.

Class Effort

In looking at academic success many people have the idea that the greater the effort in the classroom the greater the academic success, however, recent studies have concluded that this is not necessarily the case (Cheo, 46).

Class participation incurs a personal cost in terms of time and effort and once information is revealed it becomes common property, on which any member in the class can free-ride. A common example would be if every student writes the same analysis in an exam, on which only the original contributor of the idea actually spent time and effort to formulate the argument, and all members of the class still get the same grade (Cheo, 46)."

The question then becomes what happens to that knowledge or idea as it leaves the classroom and is taken home for study. Do different ethnic groups approach academics differently?

From research results in the past it appears that parental involvement plays an important part in academic success, and culturally parents of Asian and Jewish descent traditionally place a high value on education.

Parental Involvement

Parent involvement, as a family educational input, has been advocated as a resource for school success in recent research and policy literature in the United States (Heystek, 2003; Hoover-Dempsey, Bassler, & Burrow, 1995; Schneider & Coleman, 1993; Weiss et al., 2003) (Lin, 174). Parent involvement has been conceptualized as a form of social capital (Coleman, 1988, 1992) (Lin, 174). Social capital consists of social networks and connections -- "contacts and group memberships which, through the accumulation of exchanges, obligations and shared identities, provide actual or potential support and access to valued resources (Lin, 174)" (Bourdieu, 1993, p. 143). According to Coleman (1997), social capital is generated from the strength of relationships between adults and children; such relationships may be especially important to adolescents who often require adult guidance and assistance to perform important developmental tasks (Lin, 174)."

This is an interesting development as a further study found that Asian-Americans and American Jews had fewer discussions at home about their academics than their Hispanic, AA or White counterparts did.

This indicates that the reputation for American Asians and American Jews have for academic excellence is not tied to discussions with parents about their studies.

In several studies, researchers used NELS:88 data to examine relationships between parents who knew the parents of their teenagers' friends and student achievement (Lin, 174). Using NELS:88 statistics, Muller (1993) reported that Caucasian parents of eighth graders were more likely than were parents in other ethnic groups to know the parents of their children's friends; for each subgroup, knowing teenagers parents correlated with parents' level of education (Lin, 174). As minority parents' level of education increased, so did their number of acquaintances with other parents, but the number never approached the level of acquaintances that Caucasian parents had (Lin, 174). Following Muller's study, several researchers further explored the relationship between parent acquaintances and student achievement (Lin, 174). The acquaintances and communications between parents positively influenced student performance in Pong's study (1997) but were associated negatively with achievement in Morgan and Sorensen's research (1999) (Lin, 174)."

Family Rules

While studies have shown that discussion about school, family social connections and parental contact with the school have little impact on academic performance, they also found that the rules and expectations at home with regard to study and homework were more strict and monitored in Asian families than in Hispanic and Caucasian families, which may help to illuminate how the Asian-American family has the reputation for academic excellence.

When examining racial and ethnic differences, Sui-Chu and Willms (1996) found that Asians and Hispanics tended to have more family rules and restrictions than did Caucasians (Lin, 174)."

In a recent study by Dr. Tamara Ho it was discovered that Asian-Americans have a higher rate of college completion than any other race with 64% of those enrolled obtaining their degrees (Ho, pp).

Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain the educational success of Asian-Americans as compared with Whites, including innate intelligence differences, cultural determinism, and relative functionalism (see S. Sue & Okazaki, 1990, for a review of these theories) (Ho, pp)."

Cho's study included 160 Asian-American undergraduates from which 75% received financial support from parents and the remainder used scholarships and grants. When questioned about parental education, almost half of participant parents had college degrees and 88% of the participants reported that their parents strongly encouraged them to obtain college degrees (Ho, pp).

The study used a survey method with nine scales for students to complete.

Examining six different Asian-American undergraduate groups, this study investigated the relationships of three variable sets: comfort in the university environment, social support, and self-beliefs (Ho, pp)."

The study also found that success at college was tied to the student's self-esteem and that Asian-American students of Filipino, Japanese and Vietnamese descent were encouraged highly by parents and extended family as they were growing up and their college experience was more successful because they had a strong self-esteem when they entered the environment which carried them through to the end (Ho, pp).

Further studies have shown that American Asian and American Jewish parents have a culturally higher expectation for their children's education than their AA. Hispanic or White counterparts do (Schulenberg, 269). This may be the strongest influence on why American Asians and American Jews have a reputation for being academically successful.

The question then becomes, why do the parents of these two races have such strong beliefs about education and the importance of their children excelling in the academic field?

The Wars

For one to fully understand the roots in American Jewish and American Asian students having the reputation for being academically advanced one only has to turn attention to the history of those races within the context of recent wars.

Anyone who is living in a civilized nation is aware of the Holocaust and the horrors that it visited upon the Jewish population.

Millions of Jews were rounded up, put into concentration camps and then subsequently killed. Those who did not die had to witness the murder of their family members, and then be worked almost to death to be able to stay alive.

Jewish residents during that time in Germany were treated worse than animals. The children in the camps were deprived not only of their childhood carefree years but also of the chance to obtain a viable and solid education.

When those years were over and the Jewish were no longer being persecuted they developed a strong sense of education importance to protect future generations from ever having to experience such horrors again.

While the concentration camps were in force, those that did have doctor, engineering and other degrees had a better chance for survival because their skills and knowledge were useful at the campsites. Those who were uneducated ran a higher risk of being shot to death, or gassed with hundreds of others each day.

The end of the war left the Jewish population with the belief that education and wealth were key factors to survival and today, that belief still resonates within the community, though it is no longer tied to physical survival. It is an underlying cultural strength that was born of survival and now is mixed with self pride and the desire to succeed and show the world exactly how wrong it was to condone the treatment it allowed the Nazi's to visit upon their culture during the war.

The Asians had similar experiences following the attack on Pearl Harbor, however, during that time Japan also became occupied by American troops and one of the changes the occupation instituted was mandatory education. The ability to build strong military forces have been stripped from several Asian populations in recent years. Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines are all areas in which military occupation and rule have removed the ability to become military powers, which in turn caused the residents to turn to educational strength from which to build their reputations.

From those years the generations have passed down the strong family belief that education… [END OF PREVIEW]

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