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Why do Asian and Asian-American students consistently perform so well on standardized tests? Why are students of Asian descent disproportionately admitted to America’s top colleges?

This informative and entertainingly written comparison of educational methods in America and China answers these questions and more, while assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each culture’s distinctly different education systems. Education expert Quanyu Huang notes that both Asian and Asian American students excel early on at mastering lesson material and test-taking, whereas many of their non-Asian American peers do not perform as well. The author also points out that American students generally demonstrate far more creativity and independence than students in China, where conformity and rote learning are emphasized. This is evident from the American record of award-winning innovations and discoveries. By contrast, the Chinese educational system has not yet produced a Nobel Prize winner in science.

For Americans to achieve more consistent academic success at primary and secondary grade levels, the author recommends a blend of the virtues inherent in both cultures. He says this is exactly what often gives Asian American students an edge. They have the advantage of an Asian heritage that drives them to succeed and an American culture that teaches them creativity and independent thinking. Above all, Asian families extoll the virtues of education; this attitude is a key component in the success of these students.

Drawing on his own experiences as an immigrant to this country in the 1980s, and as a parent to a son raised in the US, the author concludes by suggesting that Americans rediscover the immigrant attitudes of their ancestors several generations ago. Like Asian immigrants today, they too saw education as a ladder to success in American society. Students anywhere will thrive when their families reinforce the seriousness of education and help children develop the study and discipline habits that ensure academic success. 

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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