• CaliStunna

    It’s not just Asian-Americans who are obtaining the High suicide rates. Japan and Korea are both known to have high pressure on the students, thus resulting in suicides.

    I think a better video that discusses Asian students would be the one that was featured on CNN.

    “CNN: Are Asian students smarter?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opBfHXePM2Y

    The video also includes the forgotten Asian group, Asian Indians.

    It’s interesting how the “Asian” category has also affected enrollment for Asian students in the past. I think this is why Filipino activists asked for Filipino to have its own category in the UC schools because of such a high enrollment of Asians being effected.

    Perhaps…Chinese…Koreans…Asian Indians…Vietnamese…should all protest for their own category, but then again the affirmative action rule is no longer used?

  • http://www.littleyellowdifferent.com Ernie

    CaliStunna: Good call on the video. I edited the post a bit to reflect this.

  • http://www.8asians.com John

    Great video. There was no link to that CNN piece in the San Jose Mercury News.

  • HoChie

    Good video. The use of “Grace Lee” to elicit stereotypes is reminiscent of an Asian American documentary from a few years ago by filmmaker Grace Lee entitled “The Grace Lee Project.” That was a funny film! Check out the trailer at http://www.gracelee.net

  • http://www.8asians.com/author/ancientone95131/ Jeff

    As a parent, I had some mixed feelings when I read that Mercury News article. On one hand, particularly as an engineer working in tech who sees how competitive the world is, I want my kids to be as well educated as possible, and yes I expect them to do well academically. John, you make but the point that the high school is 75% Asian-American. I went to a high school with a lot of Asian-Americans. Not 75% high, but pretty high. Know that not every Asian American gets pushed to do well. I knew Asian-American kids who got in trouble with gangs, who got pregnant, who spent parts of high school in a drug induced haze. Their parents didn’t or couldn’t push them academically and seemingly set no or very low expectations. That’s not something I want for my kids – I want them busy, doing lots of school work and activities to keep them out of trouble, and I am heavily involved with tracking and monitoring their progress. I also deplore the general anti-intellectual climate in the US that denigrates kids who do well academically as nerds. Now that’s a healthy attitude for the US to have as it competes in a global marketplace! So yeah, I do push my kids academically.

    On the other hand, I felt really sickened by the narrow minded focus of their “education” – getting good grades and test scores and getting into the “right” colleges. What about other parts of their education? 70% of Mission students cheat on tests and 80% cheat on homework? Are they learning to get ahead at all costs? Do we need that kind of “education?” Seems like we have recently had a number of “well educated” CEOs who have contributed to crashing and burning their companies and the economy and then bailing out with golden parachutes. I also don’t like the pressure cooker atmosphere that seems to pervade Mission and others schools like it. Expectations should be high, but not unreasonably so. I do remember an Asian American classmate who killed himself because of those expectations. Number One son claims that some of his classmates get beaten if they don’t get really good grades. I am not sure how true that is, but if true that is getting way over the top.

    I try to take a middle ground where I have high but not ridiculously high expectations. Still, there is a lot of stress for The Daughter, who is in a private, academically oriented high school, and I often worry how hard to push things. As a teenager, her stress often ends getting released on us. I have to say, it would a lot easier stresswise on The Wife and I to have low or no expectations. But that wouldn’t be right. I also don’t demand that she get into the Ivy League and be a sports star.

    A few other comments. When I was in high school in the same Athletic league as Mission San Jose, they used to be a sports powerhouse and a power in football like De la Salle high school. Former 49er Gary Plummer went there. In recent years Mission has had trouble fielding a team. I grew up in the Bay Area, and then did as you say – lived in other parts of the country to see how it was. I ended up moving back. The Bay Area is a very comfortable place to be Asian-American (except for attending Mission San Jose high school, apparently!). Finally, regarding buying a house in a high stress high Asian school district like Cupertino or Palo Alto. Wow, if your friend has that kind of choice, lucky her! Asian-Americans have bid up the price of houses in those districts (and Mission San Jose HS district too) to outrageous levels. My brother-in-law the real estate agent says that his Asian clients often shop for homes by looking at local school test scores. I feel pretty lucky just to have a house, but I am kind of bummed that the school districts that I am in are not good. Almost all (if not all) of the Asian-Americans families on my street send their kids to private school. I know some Asian-American parents in my area who were torn between moving to a place with a good school district and paying for private school. As for going to a mostly Asian-American school, I think it is better to go a more diverse school. The Daughter has definitely benefitted by going from her mostly Filipino and Vietnamese K-8 school to much more ethnically mixed school.

  • http://asianmommy.com/ Asianmommy

    Our kids are in preschool & 1st grade, so right now, there’s very little pressure on them. I hope that they will succeed academically, but it’s more important to me that they’re well-rounded. I want them to learn and do all kinds of things, from sports to music to dance–whatever interests them. I also want them to focus on developing friendships and spending time with family, because although you need an education to get a good job, strong social connections are very important for happiness & success.

  • http://www.8asians.com/author/ancientone95131/ Jeff

    @Asianmommy: It’s good that your kids aren’t pressured yet. Sometimes kids that age are already pressured. Some schools (like my sons’ school) test kids before they accept them. It may sound crazy, but it was stressful waiting for the results of the tests to see if they got into kindergarten. To show how overzealous some Asian parents get, the school once had parents help to administer the kindergarten test, but they stopped that (making it teachers only) when some parents were caught leaking questions. This is to get into kindergarten!

  • http://happyinvestor.wordpress.com BumScientist

    Mission San Jose is pretty affluent with only 3% on subsidized lunches.

    I think these Asian schools are turning into college prep high schools. At other high schools, you have most people getting jobs and getting pregnant. I don’t see how going to a school dominated by Asians is any more stressful than going to say Phillips Academy in Andover. As for cheating, everybody cheats. Premeds cheat to get into medical school. People cheat to get into business school. The only advice I would give your kids is that you better not catch them cheating.

    When I was at a majority Asian high school in San Francisco, I didn’t remember it being so stressful, but I never got 4.0s either. My parents didn’t pressure me in school, but they weren’t too happy when I got rejected by a lot of colleges. I do recognize that times are changing too. When I went to kindergarten, I did not know my ABCs or other things like that, but now kids in good neighborhoods are expected to know those.

    The source of the stress is peer pressure. A kid told me that he feels stupid when the other Asians ask him about his grades and they think he’s dumb when he gets a B, since a B = bad on the Asian grading scale as stated above. When the Asian kid goes home with a B, the parent says you can do better next time. When the White kid goes home with a B, they go out and celebrate. In China you get beaten until you can’t sit for being #2. Parents want their children to have a good education in order to surmount the bamboo ceiling. An Asian person can’t even teach English in China if they wanted to. You need to be white to teach English in China according to some 8asian post.

    Cupertino is hilarious with the all the wealthy Asian engineering and business people. The kids there call it the CPT, but the CPT I know is Compton. Rest in Peace, Eazy-E.

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  • Andrew

    I’m Taiwanese-American, and I graduated from Mission San Jose last year. I have lived through, and therefore completely understand, the Asian American stress storm and everything that stems from it. Yes, the stereotypes are true for many students at MSJ. We’re stressed out, we take as many advanced courses as we can, we pursue our extracurricular activities for college applications as much as for pleasure. And everything counts for “the future”, which is typically undergraduate studies at a good UC or Ivy League, a good degree, a good job, financial security, and everything the typical Asian parent wants out of their kids.

    But for every Asian American student at Mission who gets on the same stereotypical fast track through stress to success, there is a non-Asian student who is under just as much pressure from his parents and himself, and several Asian Americans who defy stereotypes and have their priorities in different aspects of life. Many of my peers couldn’t care less about becoming doctors and lawyers and use the pressure they can feel around them to fuel their artistic talent or pursue music instead. What I mean is, the stress surrounding MSJ’s student life is not a myth, but neither is it the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.

    I don’t approve of all the stress that the Mission environment places on its students, but it really is a good school, and shouldn’t be defined solely by being the archetype of everything that is unhealthy about the work- and success-driven Asian American culture. I’m tired of all the news agencies looking for a story and zeroing in on my high school in order to prove that STRESS IS BAD!!! Of course stress isn’t healthy, and of course Asian American students are under a lot of it. But we deal with it, and whether or not Mission SOS (the student organization that made the Grace Lee video, which was only founded my Senior year) really does help the students, the students themselves are smart enough to deal with it and not suffer mental breakdowns.

    Also, it is generally agreed among Mission students that the CNN report on Asian students being smarter was absolutely ridiculous and did nothing but further negative stereotypes against MSJ as a school.

    When students at Mission graduate and get out of the Fremont/Bay Area bubble, they’ll discover what the real world is like, and it’ll be tough for some to adjust. But at least they will, and they’ll grow up just like I’m still growing up and learning, and realize for themselves what is really worth more in life: grades or LIVING. Until then, the national competition to get into college is predicted to peak this year and then settle, and generations of Asian Americans with less culturally conservative parents are reaching high school age, as current high school students learn their own limits and relax… and life goes on.

  • http://www.8asians.com John

    @Andrew – thanks for your personal observations and thoughts! We really appreciate it!

  • Calvin

    I graduated from MSJ last year too, and I have my own thoughts about the school and the environment that it fosters. I just wanted to comment that the bit about 70% of Mission cheating is egregiously untrue and detracts from the hard work that Mission students put in. Granted, cheating does occur, as it does at every school. In fact, I’d argue that less cheating occurs at Mission, just based on personal experience. It is possible to “compete” and do well at Mission without having to resort to dishonest measures.

  • Leslie

    I’m a former high-achieving Chinese MSJHS student, and I have to say that I’m a little tired of various news agencies using my school as the centerpiece of their irresponsible shock stories. The hyper-achieving, nerd-school stereotype exists because it’s in many ways true, but the media has decided to focus only on the negative side of it. Is attending a “normal” high school somehow better or healthier? Schools where only two-thirds of the student body can be reasonably be expected to show up to school every day, where only a handful of students graduate, let alone go to college, schools with serious gang problems and high rates of teen pregnancy? By ignoring the hard work and achievements of the students in favor of writing a juicy story with a gratuitously racist title, the media too often do a disservice to the students (and the faculty!) of MSJ.

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  • Allen J

    I went to Mission, and it was great.

    All of my friends that did well there are continuing to do well in college and in industry.

    I agree with Leslie, there seems to be a huge disconnect between the stressful life at MSJ and the stressful life of a typical high school. I’m sure Mission scores significantly in terms of drug usage, crime, bullying, etc.

    The “negative” stereotypes are the exact same ones used against the “elitist ivy-league schoolers.” It’s nothing new. Going to Harvard is still going to be way better than some random place, so what’s the fuss?

  • katherineyu

    I’m a 16 year-old Chinese girl and I have definitely felt parental pressure on me to be perfect. It’s not just academics; it’s also extracurriculars and awards. My parents lecture me if I get anything lower than an A, even though I have had straight A’s for the past two years and my only B+ currently is in Honors Physics. I’m in Spanish Honor Society, the school marching band, NHS, FPS, the debate team, the environmental club, and the biology club. I’m ranked third in my district in debate, the marching band has won states two years in a row, I’m going to debate Nationals, my team won fourth place at FPS states, I volunteer as a tour guide at a museum, and I have an internship doing research this summer. It’s still not enough. I’ve been badgered to do even better, to win more, and to participate in even more activities. It’s not just the West Coast; I’m on the East Coast. I really think that Asian parents think differently from a lot of other parents…

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  • Boogerhead

    Are your parents super perfect and successful themselves or have they never had to live up to their own standards? I only want a baby to cuddle and love and I would definitely help them do their homework and reach their personal best but I would only have children because I am specifically crazy about children for their own sake. I wouldn’t even get married or have children if it meant interrupting my own academic and career trajectory if not for true love – that’s the only reason to get inconvenience your life. I don’t understand how lecturing kids in a haranguing manner is about loving them for their own good. I haven’t read Tiger Mom but I get the impression that that isn’t what that book is really about. I witnessed a Chinese mom on Long Island throw away a barbie doll that her daughters were fighting over – they weren’t even being loud – just the fact that they dared to argue in front of guests. I think there is a primitive idea about child rearing and discipline that is falsely associated with Chinese success stories that bad parents use to justify their treatment of their kids. Kids are supposed to be recipients of parental affection and attention – that’s the only reason to have kids.

  • Boogerhead

    My parents were indifferent to kids so I didn’t learn to read until I started grade school at Age 5/6 and I didn’t start reading books until I was 8 but I was known for being pretty good in English and a bookworm so the late start didn’t hurt me despite the many typos on this site. I was pretty doofusy as a 6 year old and since my parents didn’t believe in toys, I always wanted a toy kitchen because I never got to play with it in nursery school. Until my kid starts grade school, I just want them to play and naturally learn from being new to the world. Learning their numbers and alphabet will probably come about in the process but I don’t believe all the hype about starting early. I think kids have mushy brains and need to absorb and sort out information over years. I can’t imagne making a toddler cry to get them to learn grade school level math and reading. When reading finally clicked, I flew.

  • Boogerhead

    And there is nothing lovely about a six year old who looks and tries to act like a twelve year old. I’m not a fan of teaching kids to be ‘elderly” which is not the same as precocious. There’s something articificial about children who have been implanted with all their parent’s adult concerns.

  • Boogerhead

    Have you noticed a cultural change in children who go to predominantly Asian schools? That’s what I am afraid of – that kids who aren’t being taught to be well-rounded would influence my kids because of being from the same Asian background.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheddae Ched Grant

    My head hurts just reading the amount of stuff your parents pressure you to do. I could not do that much without stressing out 24/7.

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