Monday, November 1, 2010

Why Are Asians So Smart?

Aside from the over-emphasis on test-taking skills, I think it's a decent start. Are Asians actually smarter?

7 comments:

shotgunkorea said...

I discussed this yesterday with the mothers I teach after school--- sort of. We were talking about why Korean students score so much higher than U.S. students. After reminding me that our president thinks Americans should be like Koreans when it comes to education, we got down to brass tacks. The mothers think that there should be a mix-- they love the pride that comes from scoring so highly, but they are fearful that their children are under too much pressure to succeed. It appeared that most of them deperately wanted the Korean education system to be toned down so that they could quite literally have their children back (not kept in hagwon until one or two A.M.).

Jones said...

Well, they are not really genius but they are just better.
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elwood5566.net said...

I am a professional teacher with 14 years experience teaching in the UK. I have to admit Korea is a teachers heaven. Of course, the Korean system can be criticised but the lack of anti-intellectualism which has atrophied the British educational system, is refreshing.

And I'm in favour of the stick and punishments and use them. In the UK there is no efficient method of punishing a bad student and students are empowered the moment they step into the school premises. I've been spat at, called every name you can imagine and been assaulted. When a student attacked me with a chair, I put my hand on his chest to prevent him hitting me. The parents wanted the police calling into the school because I had 'made physical contact' and my boss almost supported them.

The Korean system is effective because education is more highly regarded, by virtue of Confucian influences. And it is more effective because children are controlled better. In 4.5 years of teaching in Korea, I have not once had to teach a thoroughly rotten kid who is scum and a nasty human - but I've taught plenty such characters back home.

And perhaps the most soul destroying experience in the UK, is seeing the learning of decent kids ruined by the scum which spoil many lessons.

It is hardly surprising, Britain for example, trails behind Korea in terms of academic success given that morons often become national heroes. Jayne Goody, winner of Big Brother, didn't even know the capital of France or the name of the river which runs through London. She became a millionaire, and then there are examples such as Vinny Jones and Wayne Rooney - violent morons who are iconised.

EvieKay said...

Elwood, what you have said I find very interesting. I've taught school in Atlanta and so many of the students are just so out of control (wouldn't quite call them scum though- but I can tell where you are coming from- I have met one or two students like that) that the whole class is just chaos- jumping on tables, yelling, fighting, stabbings took place on campus, and there were students in the class that you could tell had rather tainted attitudes toward learning simply because of their constant exposure to students who had no discipline in their lives. There was no detention, nothing.. all you could do was send them to the principal's office if he wasn't too busy and he would decide what to do with them (expel or not). And you can hardly expel students because you would have to expel like half the class on a regular basis, and this would be considered neglecting the children and giving up on them. So-- needless to say, it was a MESS!!! I'm surprised that the UK has problems so bad too! I always pictured students there much better behaved-- considering the test scores of public schools there are much higher than here in Georgia. Crazy! I'm glad that Korea will be something to look forward to.

afranke77 said...

Check out the book 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell. There's a chapter on why Asians regularly score higher on math tests and he attributes it to Korean, Chinese, and Japanese kids having an easier time learning numbers in their languages and getting a head start on math compared to western students. Numbering in these three languages tends to be simpler and more logical. Consider the following numbers in Korean and English:

2= two, "ee"
12= twelve, "ship ee"
20= twenty, "ee ship"

English speakers have to learn three distinctly different words for 2, 12, and 20 despite each number revolving around the same digit (2), while Korean retains the name for 2 and arranges numbers in a simpler way (literally: "ten two" and "two tens")

AndreaIndeed said...

Well, I've been a teacher for 5 years at international schools in the U.S. and Europe, and I am really surprised that other experienced teachers would find the Korean system to be heaven.

I have found that it not only discourages intellectualism, but most kinds of creative and divergent thinking. These skills are needed for innovation and invention, and I'm sorry to say that the Korean kids I've taught are severely lacking in it. This is not, of course to say, that they are unable to think creatively. It's just that they are raised to think that test scores are the measure of intelligence and I couldn't disagree any more with this sentiment.

People criticize the U.S. for being to soft on testing and too interested in misguided ideas about self esteem. That may be so, but I don't think the Korean system is a solution. There must be a middle ground!

WonTaek Chung said...

I don't think Koreans are smarter. I think we are just more aware of the importance of grades. In terms of brain power, I feel Indians and a lot of Americans have the potential to be so much smarter than Koreans.