Saturday, April 20, 2013

Are Your Children Successful…Why? Why not?

The New York School System has three high schools that are reserved for high-performing, gifted, children—Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech. These three elite schools consistently turn out students that enter premium universities and ultimately become the movers and shakers of our nation and our society. These three schools accept for entrance about 3000 students yearly; last year 28,000 eighth grade students took the entrance exam. The exam is a 2½ hour exam that is partly written and partly oral. Entrance into these schools is based solely on the outcome of the exam—there is not affirmative action or racial quota involved in admission decisions.

The ethnic mix of students admitted exclusively on the basis of test scores is interesting. Last fall, Stuyvesant admitted 9 Blacks, 24 Latinos, 177 Whites, and 620 Asian-Americans. The question naturally arises, “Why is there such a lop-sided ethnic mix of students favoring Asian-Americans?”

The answer to the above question has nothing to do with genetic superiority of Asian-Americans. The reason has everything to do with cultural differences between them and the other ethnic groups.

 Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania studied National Spelling Bee finalists and found there was no genetic advantage for any ethnic group. She found that these high-achieving kids were willing to forgo the immediate gratification of TV watching, texting friends, and playing video games. They worked many grueling hours on the tedious task of writing out thousands of flashcards with words/definitions and memorizing them. She also found that these high-achieving students come from homes where there is a difference in parenting practices from homes where high-achievement is not present. The high-achiever homes are characterized by parenting that guides the children and demands hours of difficult work. Homes like this produce students for Stuyvesant High School.

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