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:
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:
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.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.”
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.”