Chinese Students - What can be Learned from for Getting Good Grades?
Chinese Students - What can be Learned from for Getting Good Grades?
As of the
2003-2004 school year, the national average rate for high school graduation is
75 percent. Sadly, the statistics
mean at least a fourth of high school students never get a diploma.
So why do Chinese in the US, who are only 4% of the population, make up 10-30%
of students at the best universities in the US? The NY Times had an article
Asia on the Hill about UC Berkeley, where 46% of the students are Asian, but
only 12% of the California population is. Instead of blindly
accepting the poor state of education in America, families can learn some
great ideas from Chinese families and culture on getting good grades and
striving for success academically.
One time I had
a good student who's grades began to drop drastically.
Naturally, as the teacher, the first thought is: "What am I doing
wrong?" In conference with the
young gentleman, the reason for the drastic change was soon discovered. Seemingly, his mom did not care about her son's grade as long
as it was passing.
The attitude is
totally unacceptable in any culture! Unlike many parents today, the Chinese have high expectations
for their children. Getting
anything less than an "A" can be a source of shame. Post-secondary education is planned with the goal of
attending top ranked schools such as Harvard or Yale, not the local community
place a high priority on on sports, to the exclusion to everything else.
The school day is shortened, so teachers and students can attend the
matches or other competitions. Awards
for the best sports team are displayed in showcases.
But, little is said about academic excellence. In one class I was
substitute teaching, heavily Hispanic, I asked the 7th graders what they wanted
to do. The majority of the class wanted to be professional basketball
players. A few wanted to be professional baseball players. So I had
the class do some simple math. How many teams are there, number of players
per team, and they worked it out. According to www.ncaa.org
the chances of a male high school athlete being drafted by an NBA team is .03%
or 3 in 10,000
In the Chinese
culture, good grades and scholastic success is paramount.
Under normal circumstances, athletics are a great social and ego boost,
but it does not translate into a good job and personal growth out in the
workforce. Flipping burgers at a fast-food joint is not acceptable. The ultimate
goal is financial, social, and personal achievement of the highest order. Do
well in school, and reach for long-awaited success.
a Career Path
As most high
school students what they are planning after graduation and a vast majority will
be unsure. Many students seem
incapable of thinking beyond the next assignment.
Not so in the Chinese culture. From
a young age, children have a career path in mind.
The premise of early planning is to gear class selection and education
around the subjects that will most likely help a student reach his/ her career
goal. The parents decide you will be a Doctor, Veterinarian, etc. I
have seen this in schools where a Chinese 5th grader (top student in the class)
answered she was going to be a veterinarian, and the other non-Chinese students
had no real goals of their future careers.
solid career decision may not be important in grade school, secondary education
has so many choices for a well-rounded education.
Thus, students can pick the courses that will provide the best possible
preparation for a chosen career path. In a study of Harvard
MBA students of the power of goal setting, after 10 years the 13 percent of
the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84
percent who had no goals at all. And what about the three percent who had clear,
written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97
percent put together.
to believe, some high school students rarely see parents.
Mom and Dad both work. The
kids are responsible for getting off to school, only to come home to an empty
house at the end of the day. Anything
important that happened during the day is old news by the time the parents come
dragging in the door.
Not so with the
Chinese. Parents want to know the
day's events and homework is a family affair.
Mom or Dad will sit down and make sure the lessons are completed.
If something is difficult to understand, the parents do whatever possible
to help sons and daughter succeed with the highest possible marks.
Sometimes this gets carried away, where the children's projects are done by the
parent. In my daughter's fifth grade class, you could tell who had help on
their project. I admit, my family did get a bit carried away on her
project when we built a model of Joss
House Weaverville Model Project. My Father got the blue
prints from the national park, I bought a video, and lots of research on the
web. At least we were truthful and explained to the teacher my daughter
had worked on the landscape and that's what she was graded on.
parents will gladly pay the premium to live in better school districts to make
sure their kids get the best education possible. In the Los Angeles area
Cerritos, Walnut/Diamond Bar (where my daughter attends), Arcadia, and San
Marino all have excellent school districts. They are also heavily Chinese
and the housing prices are not cheap. So which came first, the good
schools or the Chinese? The good schools came first and the Chinese then
bought homes with a preference for a good school district and pay a premium for
it. I know one parent who lives in Covina, and bought a Condo in Walnut so
their daughter could go to school there. They got lucky (like us), and
their daughter got in via a lottery that allowed out of district students to go
to school in Walnut/Diamond Bar.
When a subject
is particularly difficult or the stakes are extremely high, most Chinese parents
do not simply accept a child's average grades.
When necessary, parents will sacrifice and do whatever is necessary to
enlist the help of a tutor. Many
kids will participate in after school programs or tutoring, in order to receive
the highest grades humanly possible.
the students get older and the SAT exams are looming, parents will hire tutors
to help students gain the best scores. Without
stellar marks, the Ivy League colleges will never be a reality.
So, tutoring is an expected element of education.
In other cultures, tutoring is a last resort rather than an insurance
policy of scholastic success. Where I live in Rowland Heights, there are
so many tutoring places. It seems that every strip mall has them.
From after school programs that help with Math and English, to SAT preparation
classes. Summer is the time these private schools are especially
active. Parents will have their kids take during the summer classes that
they will be taking during the year. For example Calculus may be taken
during the summer at one of these schools for no grade, and then repeated at a
public school for a grade. Taking a class for the second time helps the
grade. One of my daughter's friends because of all the work she has done
in private after school and summer programs is taking Calculus in the 9th grade!
She also got a perfect score on the SAT in 7th grade.
grades should not be a cultural issue. Every
student should want to achieve the best possible education.
However, many of the kids who go to school today have a nonchalant
attitude toward academic success. Plus,
parents are so busy, kids are practically raising themselves.
As long as the grades are average and the principle is not calling,
everything is status quo.
should be motivated to do their absolute best, and parents should be right
behind the effort to succeed. Academic
achievement is a family goal, not an afterthought.
Sacrifice and hard work are worth the end result. A lot can be learned
from Chinese families and the cultural attitude toward good grades and personal
As written by Ray Ritchey