Saturday, 1 January 2011

Too Asian?

*This article was originally titled “‘Too Asian’?” For Maclean's response to the controversy it has generated, click here. 
Maclean's has now retitled the article:
*The enrollment controversy
Worries that efforts in the U.S. to limit enrollment of Asian students in top universities may migrate to Canada. The phrase “Too Asian?” is a direct quote from the title of a panel discussion at the 2006 meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling where experts examined the growing tendency among U.S. university admission officers to view Asian applicants as a homogenous group. The evidence suggests some of the most prestigious schools in the U.S. have abandoned merit as the basis for admission for more racially significant—and racist—criteria.

Mr. Layton, the freshman councillor for Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina (Toronto), proposes to consume valuable time at the new city council’s very first business meeting with a demand for an apology from Maclean’s magazine. Seconded by Kristyn Wong-Tam of Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, his motion recommends that “Toronto City Council disassociate itself from the views expressed by Maclean’s in its article entitled ‘Too Asian?* and request that Maclean’s apologize unreservedly for the negative stereotyping of the Asian-Canadian community.”

I hardly know what to think of this item. Maclean's has gone downhill since it has shortened the depth and breadth of articles. It read more like People than a Canadian journalist newsmag. That said, you get what you pay for.

What a Toronto city council has to do with a national magazine, I don't know.  Secondly, the title is meant to attract attention to a bizarre trend in the US of racially streaming students, and deselecting merit as a criterea, it arose from the name of a conference. This has slipped by many who complain. In fact, the point of the article seems to slip from many minds.

Education and the cultures around it differ around the world. As with any system, a work ethic makes all the difference. We know that Asian countries have more controls around who goes to which schools. You must study your way into a 'good' school. Discipline and hard work makes for higher marks. The value of education and culture and attitudes towards it differ by many factors. It varies by country, ethnic group, region, towns and communities. That said, within one classroom you can find a wide range of attitudes by family and the students you teach. We do know that what you put in comes out. 

We know that parents continually for for or against homework, field trips, extracurricular activities, too much work, or too much play, too little or too much parental involvement, and so on. I found that the best students were raised in a climate or hard work, caring, and family investment in the process, as much as my efforts. Kids who like to work and play, live and learn. Kids who had a goal and a dream and achieved it.

Too much pressure results in tragedy, too.

The thing is that  'Suicide Rates Rising Among Asian Americans'

At Cornell University, for instance, 13 of the 21 student suicide victims between 1996 and 2006 were Asians or Asian Americans. That picture is not complete unless you consider that Asians make up of only 14 percent of the total Cornell student body.


Barrie said...

Happy New Year, Jenn! I think back to the days when I applied to U of T. The criteria was good grades. It's so much more complicated for Child #2 and his US college apps--teacher recs, volunteer hours, standardized test scores, leadership roles. Yikes!

Ontario Wanderer said...

Glad I am not applying for school these days.

Also, my late apology. It has been so long since I worked with my blog that I forgot I had to "approve" comments as they came in. Thanks for your comment on my November half marathon blog. I will try to do better in 2011.

Vagabonde said...

I have been looking at your beautiful pictures and can’t believe how many turkey you caught with your camera. Thanks for coming to my blog. I hope you are feeling better and that 2011 will be a great year for you.

Kay said...

This can be a bad generalization, too. I'm Asian American. My son was such a slouch in school. Now that he's 30, he's gone back to college to get a second degree. My daughter had reading difficulties in 3rd-4th grade. When I told the school I was really worried, the LD teacher said I was too much of an Asian parent expecting their child to excel. What!?

I had the reading specialist at the school where I worked test my daughter and she said she was about 2 years behind. Good grief! I had my daughter tested and tutored outside of her school and she caught up within a year. She made the Honor Roll by the time she was in high school. People assumed my daughter would be just fine because she was Asian. That was stupid. It still angers me when I think about it.

Here in Hawaii, many Asian kids are far behind many of their counterparts on the mainland. Why? That's still a puzzle. It's not the race... it's something else.

Jenn Jilks said...

I so agree, Kay. I remember applying to Faculty of Ed ('Teacher's College') and the changes they made. High marks do not make a great teacher. They ended up counting experience with children, too.