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  1. #1
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Default Educational Achievement and Culture

    Growing up in the culture (and/or ethnic group) that you did, what kind of educational expectations were put upon you, if any?

    My interest in this topic came from this article, as well as from my own personal experience:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/...&click=dlvr.it

    Along the same vein of Amy Chua's "Tiger Mom", the article talks about a study looking at second-generation children of immigrants (specifically, Chinese and Vietnamese), and academic outcomes. And what drives academic outcomes, for certain ethnic groups.

    For me, personally, this really resonated:
    One 35-year-old quoted in the study, explains that her mother failed to understand why Americans put so much fanfare into celebrating high school graduation, seeing the diploma as expected, not remarkable. “If you get a PhD or a Master’s, that the big thing; that’s the icing on the cake with a cherry on top, and that’s what she values.”
    My parents were immigrants, and I am the second-generation child of such immigrants. This above narrative has played out in my household. Graduating from high school, heck, having an undergrad degree (unless the degrees were in Engineering or other such application-based fields, etc.), was not an achievement. It was an expectation, plain and simple. High school graduation ceremony was seen as the equivalent of graduating from kindergarten. A "cute, little, celebration", meant as fluff sentimentality. It was ingrained since I was a little kid: finishing undergrad is the bare minimum. And, not just for me, but it was an expectation of our whole extended family (cousins, who you marry and bring in to the family, etc, etc). Did that put pressure on me? Hell, yes. Did that limit what I wanted to pursue? Yes, to some real degree.

    I don't know what exactly I feel about it, but I think the conclusion drawn from the article is a poignant one.

    “We as a society tend to look at outcomes; they are the most visible markers of success – the type of job you have, the clothes you wear, the car you drive,” says Lee. “So it’s easy to pinpoint which groups look more successful without thinking about where they started from.”

    When success is measured not by where a second-generation child ends up, but by where their immigrant parents began, the storyline shifts – the most successful immigrants in the U.S. are not Chinese, but Mexican. The children of Mexican immigrants, Lee says, had the lowest educational attainment of any ethnic group in her research. Compared to 100 per cent of Chinese-Amercans, only 86 per cent graduated from high school. But that rate was more than double their parents. (When it came to college, their rates doubled that of their fathers, and tripled their mothers.) “Even accounting for the additional obstacle for children of undocumented parents,” Lee wrote in a recent Time Magazine essay, “there is no question that when we measure success as progress from generation to generation, Mexican-Americans come out ahead.”

    And you can bet that’s just what their parents expected of them.

    “It’s not a question of certain cultures valuing education more than others,” Lee says. “It’s really about are we giving groups equal access to resources so that they have a fair shot of getting up that ladder.”

  2. #2
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    I'm a white Southerner (highly mobile childhood due to my father's job) from an upper middle-class background, my father was a structural engineering consultant descended from upwardly mobile farmers and small businessmen from the Appalachian foothills and my mother came from a family of low-country doctors and lawyers and was an English teacher and then a social worker before becoming a homemaker.

    High-school graduation was definitely expected, celebration was about life milestones rather than achievement, though high grades and other exceptional scholastic achievements were duly praised (for my sisters, I had terrible grades until college). College was also expected, and failure to finish was considered to be a partial failure at, and mistake in, life (my parents were greatly distressed when my borderline genius second-eldest sister, long expected to have a successful career in whatever advanced field most interested her, decided to drop out of college and become a full-time hostess at a fancy hotel in order to pursue a life that she actually wanted). I don't remember any particular expectation of grad school, but then, my scholastic record during childhood (not helped at all by my severe OCD and ADD) did not encourage such expectations.

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    I was expected to graduate from high school. My grades never seemed to be much of a big deal. What I would do after high school really wasn't discussed until sometime during my senior year, but it was pretty vague. When my part of our survivor's benefits was about to run out the summer after I graduated, my mom told me I'd have to go to college or get a job.
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    Senior Member Forever_Jung's Avatar
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    I'm an Acadien, living in Atlantic Canada.

    I was the first person in the "Placeholder" family to attend University, so it was no big deal when I failed horribly. In fact, my failure seemed to put them at ease. They like me better now.

    My mom used to really chew me out for my performance in High School. I probably wouldn't have even graduated if she hadn't been so strict (I just squeaked by, as it was).

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    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    I was expected to go to school, go to college and graduate (didn't live up to expectations, obviously)
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    My parents were immigrants, and I am the second-generation child of such immigrants. This above narrative has played out in my household. Graduating from high school, heck, having an undergrad degree (unless the degrees were in Engineering or other such application-based fields, etc.), was not an achievement. It was an expectation, plain and simple. High school graduation ceremony was seen as the equivalent of graduating from kindergarten. A "cute, little, celebration", meant as fluff sentimentality. It was ingrained since I was a little kid: finishing undergrad is the bare minimum. And, not just for me, but it was an expectation of our whole extended family (cousins, who you marry and bring in to the family, etc, etc). Did that put pressure on me? Hell, yes. Did that limit what I wanted to pursue? Yes, to some real degree.
    My parents are also immigrants, and this pretty much sums up my experiences as well. In fact, the day after I graduated high school my dad was on the phone with one of his friends talking about which graduate schools I was planning to go to. The pressure on the me and my younger siblings is only increased by the fact that my older brother is the model son who made perfect grades, got a master's in computer engineering and is now living the "good life", so to speak.

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    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    I lived in the United States all of my life. My parents wanted me to do well academically but they never put a whole lot of pressure on me to do so. As long as I passed my classes, they were happy. I actually pushed myself harder academically than they pushed me. Academics was the one thing I was good at. I wasn't athletic, artistic, musical, particularly good looking, or popular. So if I was going to excel in something, academics would be it.
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  8. #8
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    The article resonates here, too. The notion that, say, graduating college was just a given; that it was akin to learning how to use a sippy cup; that anything meaningful would have to go very, very far beyond that.

    The only kicker for me is the source of the pressure. My parents in no way pushed me to do what I've done; they were proud, but didn't expect it. But the pressure was (is) still there, internally.

    That is, it's not some parent of mine wondering why high school graduation isn't just a given, or why it's celebrated any more than graduating from 4th to 5th grade is; it's me.

    When I got my masters degree, I just kinda left the diploma in the trunk of my car or something; way back when I started my undergrad, I knew that the doctorate would be the only thing that mattered to me. I could celebrate then.


  9. #9
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    my parents were greatly distressed when my borderline genius second-eldest sister, long expected to have a successful career in whatever advanced field most interested her, decided to drop out of college and become a full-time hostess at a fancy hotel in order to pursue a life that she actually wanted).
    This is pretty awesome. Often, I wished for more strength to go against expectations and just live. I have in many areas of my life, but the thorns that still prick are the ones where I failed to do so.

    I don't remember any particular expectation of grad school, but then, my scholastic record during childhood (not helped at all by my severe OCD and ADD) did not encourage such expectations.
    Are your own personal expectations the same as what your parents were for you? Do you think you internalized any of their expectations so that they were not discernable from your own expectations of yourself?

    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    I was expected to graduate from high school. My grades never seemed to be much of a big deal.
    My grades were always a big deal. They knew which tests, exams, projects were coming up, and would follow up accordingly, about how I did. And, report cards, always had to be shown. Micro-management. I can be a perfectionist, obsessively so. Likely internalized my parents expectations and exaggerated them, due to my own personality.

    Mid-way through high school, after exceling and aiming to always get perfect in everything, I reached a breaking point. I just lost my motivation to keep aiming for it. Didn't give a shit. Got crafty with faking my report cards. My grades plumetted, but I still did well enough to not face any real repercussions (like failing, or failing to get into post-secondary education, or failing to get scholarships). But, my parents didn't realize that I wasn't exceling like I used to. They still don't know after all these years. I somehow always managed to slip by, right under the radar. But, it did wreak havoc in finding my own voice, my own dreams, which were hard to separate from the dreams that were dreamt of, for me. It ended up, that things that should have taken me X time to do, even though I managed to reach the goal (eventually), it always took much longer. Like my mother notes, "You take the winding road." Looking back on it now, it was rebellion. Passive rebellion. All the time I wasted. All the roads I didn't take because I didn't know enough that they were my dreams. Expectations can be stifling.

    From the outside, it may look like expectations were met, but, at what cost? At what price?

    Quote Originally Posted by Forever_Jung View Post
    I'm an Acadien, living in Atlantic Canada.
    Canadian Pride!

    I was the first person in the "Placeholder" family to attend University, so it was no big deal when I failed horribly. In fact, my failure seemed to put them at ease. They like me better now.
    That's sad. That they equated it with social status/class almost. As if, if you didn't fail, you wouldn't be relatable any more, that you'd have moved on to another social class than them. I guess, at the root of it, it's the same issue, flip side of the same coin.

    Education = status and security (or, promise/potential of)

    Quote Originally Posted by prplchknz View Post
    I was expected to go to school, go to college and graduate (didn't live up to expectations, obviously)
    You had circumstances that infringed on those expectations, beyond your control (to a certain degree). Also, if those are truly your own expectations, never give up. Even if small steps, keep aiming. For yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freesia View Post
    My parents are also immigrants, and this pretty much sums up my experiences as well. In fact, the day after I graduated high school my dad was on the phone with one of his friends talking about which graduate schools I was planning to go to.
    LOL. My parents were never that kind, as they didn't want to toot their horns before it actually happened. But I have felt the sentiment, from my parents, in other ways.

    The pressure on the me and my younger siblings is only increased by the fact that my older brother is the model son who made perfect grades, got a master's in computer engineering and is now living the "good life", so to speak.
    Ah. The "good life", "I just want you to be happy, successful, and secure." But there's all these pre-conceived notions, and rigid paths that are laid out, and assumed, as the only way of achieving it.

    To give my parents' credit, they have definitely opened up their eyes (been forced to), and learned, along with me. Where, before, they would only consider very few, narrow, fields as practical degrees to aim for, now, they are much more open to other fields of (dreams) possibilities. And, they openly acknowledge that it was because they didn't know any better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Such Irony View Post
    I lived in the United States all of my life. My parents wanted me to do well academically but they never put a whole lot of pressure on me to do so.


    As long as I passed my classes, they were happy.
    My parents had the same sentiment only towards certain classes: art, music, etc. heh.

    Quote Originally Posted by garbage View Post
    The only kicker for me is the source of the pressure. My parents in no way pushed me to do what I've done; they were proud, but didn't expect it. But the pressure was (is) still there, internally.
    And, really, this is how it should be. Teaching your kids to be independent and wise enough, to choose their own path for success.

    I guess, when it comes to immigrant parents, there's a super-imposition of their own dreams, and more. I have a masters. My kid will have a masters and more.

    Because it is a measure of having "made it". "I left my homeland for better opportunities for my children, and, come hell or highwater, they will get it." I know that a lot of my own internalization of my parents' expectations came, not because they militantly pressured me to internalize it, adopt it, they weren't that fascist, or that strict with me, but because of their own struggles, I felt a duty (empathy) to internalize their dreams, and live it for them, to a certain degree. Seeing them work so hard, basically start from scratch, having moved to a new foreign place, giving up all that is familiar, adopting to a new culture, socially isolated, and not giving up, it seemed like a spit in their face, to not do something with it. To make their struggle be for naught. That really was the internalization of my parents' expectations.

    When I got my masters degree, I just kinda left the diploma in the trunk of my car or something; way back when I started my undergrad, I knew that the doctorate would be the only thing that mattered to me. I could celebrate then.

    heh. Ditto.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    Growing up in the culture (and/or ethnic group) that you did, what kind of educational expectations were put upon you, if any?
    Answer below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    My parents were immigrants, and I am the second-generation child of such immigrants. This above narrative has played out in my household. Graduating from high school, heck, having an undergrad degree (unless the degrees were in Engineering or other such application-based fields, etc.), was not an achievement. It was an expectation, plain and simple. High school graduation ceremony was seen as the equivalent of graduating from kindergarten. A "cute, little, celebration", meant as fluff sentimentality. It was ingrained since I was a little kid: finishing undergrad is the bare minimum. And, not just for me, but it was an expectation of our whole extended family (cousins, who you marry and bring in to the family, etc, etc). Did that put pressure on me? Hell, yes. Did that limit what I wanted to pursue? Yes, to some real degree.
    See, I grew up and hung out with a lot of kids like you (children of Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, et al, immigrants).

    Was just at one of their weddings a couple weeks back (Vietnamese), and my buddy (Egyptian) stayed at my place.

    Of the, let's say, 10-15 friends from elementary/middle/high school there, I was one of three white people.

    So I saw a whole lot of what you mentioned, and it was always interesting from an outsider's perspective.

    I appreciated it, actually, cuz my family was very different in this way than a lot of my friends' families.

    Which isn't to say that there wasn't something there from my family...

    It was just... executed very differently...

    Much less "helicopterish"...

    And not cuz my parents weren't involved...

    They were at every athletic competition of mine...

    Nor cuz they didn't care...

    The one time I didn't get an A (my very last semester of high school), my Dad was pissed (cuz I'd literally just stopped doing any work in that class, and got a C the last quarter because of it... but, interesting to note, he was pissed cuz he thought it showed a lack of proper work ethic, and, as a result, a lack of integrity... not because it would affect anything about college or what not [I was already accepted and going to Berkeley, so it couldn't really have any effect {and hence why I didn't care}]).

    It's just...

    I dunno...

    My friends and I joke a lot about racial stuff, cuz we all know we don't actually give a shit about it, and so it's common to joke and comment about white people not giving a shit about education, and just being a bunch of party animals who only care about playing sports and getting laid and drinking and doing drugs, and what not... and it's always been kind of funny, cuz I'm more on my friends' side of the fence than on "white people"'s... like, I look at a lot of the white people we grew up with, and I do think they are pieces of shit who don't value education enough, and really just don't have good values, and could really benefit from being more like my friends whose parents immigrated here...

    But then, at the same time, I'm white, and I didn't exactly have the same kind of stuff put on me that a lot of my Asian and Indian and Middle Eastern friends did... like, the pressure on them seemed so constant, and overt, and explicit... on me, it was much different... it was much more implicit... almost not even talked about... just assumed... and, don't get me wrong, my mother was a teacher, my family totally valued education... I remember doing flash cards of math problems when I was 4 or 5 yrs old... going to college (and a top one) was just a given (heheh... like Tom Hank's son said in the movie about where I grew up, upon being asked why he was going to college: "Because that's what you DO after HIGH SCHOOL!" [that movie actually came out my freshman year of college, and very much resonated with me {I hated those subsequent stupid tv shows, tho...}])... my family valued education to a very significant degree... it was just... a bit different than my friends' families.

    So, yeah, it sort of made it such that I was not like the "white people" (and, granted, there were other white people like me who were getting top grades and SAT scores and going to top universities, so it wasn't like I was the only one or anything, but, if you looked at the white population at my school, and compared it to the Indian or Asian or Middle Eastern populations, it was clear that the latter groups' populations were significantly more likely to be in Honors classes, getting good grades and test scores, and going to good universities [of the students in my class who also went to Berkeley, I was one of three white people (one of whom was Jewish), three Asians, and three Indians... and there's no way Asians and Indians [especially Indians] made up 1/3, each, of my high school's population])... but nor was I like my Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern friends... it put me in a subset with not too many other people, of "white people whose parents actually valued education", or something...

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    I'm a white Southerner (highly mobile childhood due to my father's job) from an upper middle-class background, my father was a structural engineering consultant descended from upwardly mobile farmers and small businessmen from the Appalachian foothills and my mother came from a family of low-country doctors and lawyers and was an English teacher and then a social worker before becoming a homemaker.

    High-school graduation was definitely expected, celebration was about life milestones rather than achievement, though high grades and other exceptional scholastic achievements were duly praised (for my sisters, I had terrible grades until college). College was also expected, and failure to finish was considered to be a partial failure at, and mistake in, life (my parents were greatly distressed when my borderline genius second-eldest sister, long expected to have a successful career in whatever advanced field most interested her, decided to drop out of college and become a full-time hostess at a fancy hotel in order to pursue a life that she actually wanted). I don't remember any particular expectation of grad school, but then, my scholastic record during childhood (not helped at all by my severe OCD and ADD) did not encourage such expectations.
    My experience sounds pretty similar to lowtech redneck's.

    Upper middle class, older sister who was 5 yrs older than me, in the G.A.T.E. program in California, was captain of sports teams, on student government, voted by high school faculty to be the best student in her class (of ~400), went to UCLA and double-majored.

    My parents never really drilled anything into me, wrt expectations; they were just kinda there.

    Like, I knew what was expected, and it was very internalized on my end.

    I think that's actually a key difference.

    Another key difference is that graduate school never actually felt required.

    Both my parents have graduate degrees, as does my sister, but it never felt that important to me.

    And that's despite the fact that many people I know think I should become a college professor.

    As my father once said, though, "He'd like it for a few years, and then get bored to shit."

    My dad has this odd way of knowing the truth about me.

    He almost never says anything about it, but, when he does, or when, let's say, my mom tells me something he has said...

    It's ridiculous how accurate it is...

    He's also been the person who knows how to push my buttons more than anyone else...

    With one comment he could sort of shove a dagger right into the back of my rib cage...

    And that dagger would stick with me, and drive me, for years, hell, for my whole life afterward...

    And the thing is, I loved it. They were good daggers. Like, they were true. Always. So I'd work on beating/overcoming/fixing them.

    This is the only way, really, that my parents, or, perhaps, better said, my father, proactively drove me.

    And it was only every so often...

    I mean, he's only done this a handful of times over 30 yrs...

    But those 3, 4, 5 times he's done it... (maybe 6 or 7 if you count comments my mothers has recounted to me...)

    Really, that's all I needed, cuz my internal motivation was extremely high...

    These just supplemented that, gave it more form, and pushed it in the right direction.

    My mom probably used a different method...

    With her, I just knew how much she thought I could achieve...

    I knew how much she thought of me...

    And so I'd never want to let that down...

    I'd want to proactively go forth, and make her proud...

    So there were ways in which my parents drove me...

    But they were more hands off, more underhanded (?) perhaps...

    And gave me the freedom to just go forward and be whatever I wanted to be...

    Quote Originally Posted by garbage View Post
    The article resonates here, too. The notion that, say, graduating college was just a given; that it was akin to learning how to use a sippy cup; that anything meaningful would have to go very, very far beyond that.

    The only kicker for me is the source of the pressure. My parents in no way pushed me to do what I've done; they were proud, but didn't expect it. But the pressure was (is) still there, internally.

    That is, it's not some parent of mine wondering why high school graduation isn't just a given, or why it's celebrated any more than graduating from 4th to 5th grade is; it's me.

    When I got my masters degree, I just kinda left the diploma in the trunk of my car or something; way back when I started my undergrad, I knew that the doctorate would be the only thing that mattered to me. I could celebrate then.

    Yeah, this resonates with me too.

    With me, it's more about career, though.

    At high school graduation, I just remember thinking to myself, "It's so weird that anyone really gives a shit about this."

    At college graduation, there was a bit more sense of triumph, but it wasn't so much about earning a degree... it was more that I knew I had grown a whole lot in college, that I'd been through a lot, and had come out the other side a better person... that I was proud of.

    And I knew my parents were, too.

    One of my favorite pictures actually is coming out of my graduation ceremony, at Lower Sproul on campus, and I've got my cap and gown on, the Campanile is far off in the back ground, but is just over my shoulder, and I have both hands in the air, holding my diploma scroll. My ESFP ex used to have this picture up at her family's house. I had no problem with it, cuz I knew why she liked it. And it was in line with why I did. I do wonder sometimes, when people look at it, though, if they think it's cuz I'm proud to have graduated from college. The thought will come to me for a second, and then fade right away, as I know what the picture is really about, and, if you look at it, and don't see it for what it actually is, then your opinion isn't really that meaningful to me anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    My grades were always a big deal. They knew which tests, exams, projects were coming up, and would follow up accordingly, about how I did. And, report cards, always had to be shown. Micro-management. I can be a perfectionist, obsessively so. Likely internalized my parents expectations and exaggerated them, due to my own personality.
    Yeah, I saw a lot of this in my friends in similar situations as you.

    Totally not how my parents were.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    Mid-way through high school, after exceling and aiming to always get perfect in everything, I reached a breaking point. I just lost my motivation to keep aiming for it. Didn't give a shit. Got crafty with faking my report cards. My grades plumetted, but I still did well enough to not face any real repercussions (like failing, or failing to get into post-secondary education, or failing to get scholarships). But, my parents didn't realize that I wasn't exceling like I used to. They still don't know after all these years. I somehow always managed to slip by, right under the radar. But, it did wreak havoc in finding my own voice, my own dreams, which were hard to separate from the dreams that were dreamt of, for me. It ended up, that things that should have taken me X time to do, even though I managed to reach the goal (eventually), it always took much longer. Like my mother notes, "You take the winding road." Looking back on it now, it was rebellion. Passive rebellion. All the time I wasted. All the roads I didn't take because I didn't know enough that they were my dreams. Expectations can be stifling.
    Hmm...

    See, I wanted to get straight As in high school, so I could get into the best university possible.

    It wasn't like my parents told me to or anything... just, once I got to high school, I knew it was time to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    To give my parents' credit, they have definitely opened up their eyes (been forced to), and learned, along with me. Where, before, they would only consider very few, narrow, fields as practical degrees to aim for, now, they are much more open to other fields of (dreams) possibilities. And, they openly acknowledge that it was because they didn't know any better.
    That's nice to hear.

    I was always hoping it would eventually turn out that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    And, really, this is how it should be. Teaching your kids to be independent and wise enough, to choose their own path for success.
    Agreed.

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