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Macleans suggests Canadian universities are " 'Too Asian'? "

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Catchfire
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From Jezebel: Yes, Calling A School "Too Asian" Is Racist

Quote:

Stephanie Findlay and Nicholas Kohler of Macleans don't come out and say that Canadian colleges have too many Asian students. They let a group of anonymous white kids do that...

Lest you think these kids are racist or something, Findlay and Kohler helpfully explain that, "'too Asian' is not about racism, say students like Alexandra: many white students simply believe that competing with Asians — both Asian Canadians and international students — requires a sacrifice of time and freedom they're not willing to make." From there, the piece — which was briefly removed from Maclean's website but is now back up (albeit in edited form; you can read the original here) — becomes a weird mashup of stereotypes and concern-trolling. Asian students "work harder" and "tend to be strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university." They have pushy parents, are anti-social, and when they do socialize they do so with — horrors — other Asians. Universities need to do something about this terrible problem before they become "places of many solitudes, deserts of non-communication."

It's kind of unclear what this even means, but Findlay and Kohler go on to say that the real problem isn't that colleges are "too Asian" but that they're too segregated — they're "at risk of being increasingly fractured along ethnic lines." Of course, blaming racial segregation on the idea that immigrant groups "keep to themselves" is an age-old way of dodging the real discrimination these groups face — but okay, having friends of all different backgrounds is an important part of becoming a thoughtful and sociopolitically aware person, and it's reasonable for colleges to do what they can to foster such friendships. But if that's what Findlay and Kohler cared about, why didn't they call their article "Too Segregated?" Why didn't they talk about all groups, including white students, rather than focusing in on (a stereotyped and oversimplified version of) Asian students? Why did they base a whole thesis of anti-Asian resentment on a few quotes by white kids who wouldn't go on the record? Whatever the reason, "students like Alexandra" are here to assure you that it's not about racism.


Catchfire
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When the National Post censures someone for being racist (and gets it as right as Jett Heer), it must be bad:

Quote:
Even in very tiny details, Maclean’s article echoes the anti-Semites of old. Lowell took notice of the curious fact that Jewish students were “much less addicted to intemperance” than Gentile students. The Maclean’s article repeatedly notes that “Asians” drink less than whites. Maclean’s could have saved themselves money on this article if they had simply reprinted one of Lowell’s speeches from the 1920s, replacing the word “Jews” with “Asians”.

Near the end of the article, Maclean’s explicitly raises the historical parallels, noting that “to quell the influx of Jewish students, Ivy League schools abandoned their meritocratic admissions processes in favour of one that focused on the details of an applicant’s personal life.” We’re told that so far, Canadian schools have remained meritocratic and “rely entirely on transcripts.” Then we get two curious sentences: “Likely that is a good thing. And yet, that meritocratic process results, especially in Canada’s elite university programs, in a concentration of Asian students.” As a student of weaselly rhetoric, I very much admire the use of the word “likely.” The suggestion being made here is that a quota system, like the one that limited Jews in the Ivy League schools, might possibly be a good idea, since the current system leads to a bad result (“a concentration of Asian students.”)

I’ll end on a personal note. I’ve had the privilege of teaching at Canadian universities and working for the Canadian media. I’ve never experienced a “racial imbalance” at Canadian universities: I’ve met students and colleagues from every conceivable ethnic background. But I have noticed a “racial imbalance” in the Canadian media, which often seems as white as the ideal Harvard Lowell was trying to create in the 1920s. In fact, arguably Lowell was progressive compared to the Canadian media since he was willing to allow that the student body could be 15% non-WASP.

If the masthead of Maclean’s magazine is to be trusted, there is not a single “Asian” working in an editorial capacity for that publication. There do seem to be one or two “South Asians,” like the excellent Sarmishta Subramanian, but not any “Asians” as Maclean’s defines the term. To put it another way, students who don’t like to compete with “Asians” would be perfectly comfortable working for Maclean’s.


Sven
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The Maclean's article said:

Quote:

After California passed Proposition 209 in 1996 forbidding affirmative action in the state’s public dealings, Asians soared to 40 per cent of the population at public universities, even though they make up just 13 per cent of state residents.

Assuming those statistics are correct, why is that a bad thing?


Sven
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According to this 2007 piece from Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

Quote:

"The early admission figures demonstrate beyond any doubt that Berkeley is rapidly being resegregated along racial lines [since the passage of Proposition 209]," said Professor L. Ling-chi Wang, chair of UC-Berkeley's Department of Ethnic Studies. "We don't want people to think that the faculty here is totally capitulating to the trend."

Wang fears that the multiracial student body UC-Berkeley has developed over the last thirty years will be wiped out in just two or three years if current admissions practices are allowed to continue. Compared to 1997 figures, this year's admissions to UC-Berkeley are down 64 percent for African Americans, 59 percent for Native Americans, and 56 percent for Chicanos.

"Within three years, I guarantee you that Berkeley will be only Asian and White," Wang says. "We cannot allow that."

[SNIP]

Preliminary admissions for this fall include 2,998 Asian students, which out-number every other group -- including Whites. Only 27 American Indian freshmen were accepted for admission, 191 African Americans, and 600 Latinos and Chicanos. White admissions totaled 2,674. According to these preliminary figures, African Americans, Native Americans, and Chicano/Latino Americans will only constitute 10 percent of the entering class this fall, down from 23 percent last year.

Kim also worries that segregation will affect the distribution of racial groups within the UC system, so that Black and Latino students will end up at certain UC campuses, while UC-Berkeley will become almost completely White and Asian.


6079_Smith_W
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Aside from the probability that it is not the university grads, but the plumbers, framers, electricians and tradespeople who will probably have their pick of work iin upcoming years....

The quote about students not being racist but just wanting to not have to compete reminds me of something I heard at a Reform Party meeting back in the mid-90s

Upset about the government's plan to include sexual orientation under hate crimes protection, and extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, one of the speakers said:

"We can't give equal rights to gays. Studies show that they are better trained and better educated than normal people, so they will get all the jobs."

 


Sven
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6079_Smith_W wrote:

Aside from the probability that it is not the university grads, but the plumbers, framers, electricians and tradespeople who will probably have their pick of work iin upcoming years....

And that's not all bad, either.


Sean in Ottawa
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kropotkin1951 wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

It is a fact that culturally Chinese parents are likely to push their kids hard towards academics and insist on good study habits early. Many Chinese kids will do a tremendous amount of homework without complaint because they have been trained to do so.This is a cultural value-- the academics are emphasized over the social.

While I agree with the rest of your post this is just more stereotyping. IMO Class and immigrant status of the parents are the main characteristics. I live in a city where about 50% of the population is "asian."  Saying Chinese culture is a really large generalization.  I know pre-confederation "chinese" and people who immigrated only a few years ago.  There is no one culture it is like saying native culture with no reference to any specific First Nations history or culture. 

Well I don't think this is-- I see it myself first hand.

And there are reasons for it-- it is definitely widespread enough to be real.

Our son is Chinese and lived in China till he was 10. His approach to homework is like night and day to Canadian students. We have met many other Chinese kids in his school and they all have a very different work ethic. His mother, pushes hard and this is also very typical. Many attend Chinese school on the weekend going to school as habit 6 days a week. This is cultural-- it is a sense of what works and their approach to this kind of work is different.

To clarify I am talking about Chinese culture with respect to education-- that is Chinese kids who went to school in China and were first socialized there. The others, they are Canadian of Chinese ancestry. This conversation is not about "pre-confederation" immigrants. Sure there is some culture you get but the bulk of your cultural experiences come from the environment you experience. Those with Chinese parents who went to school there expressing their values certainly have some Chinese cultural influences (although I don't know many personally) but the ones I know and am talking about are kids that actually went to school there and are now here. They definitely have a cultural approach to study that is different than that predominant here.


Sean in Ottawa
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theboxman wrote:

The Asian students in question here are Asian-Canadian students. Not international students. Asian-Canadian students are also not exclusively Chinese students. 

 

Do we know this? I assume the article and people we are speakign of are students who went to at least elementary school in China. A great many may be the kids of immigrants but also a large numebr are indeed international students. There are large numbers of Chinese international students here. In fact I have met a good many here in Ottawa as we rent rooms to them. And I ahve heard their side of the cultural divide.

There certainly are differences and I think it is a wonderful thing that we have this diversity in our universities.


Sean in Ottawa
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I am sure there is racism in the schools but that is not the only reason why the communities often don't spend time together.

Many of the Chinese students also want to spend time with each other-- and they also have more things in common. The approach to study priorities will always drive a wedge between people where the party kids hang out tgether while the working kids go to the library. I am nto sure why we would pretend this does nto happen or that there is anythign wrong with that.

As long as people get in to schools based on merit which apparently is common here and they are treated well once there then this is not a disaster.

There are some concerns however, about the social aspect-- this is not entirely unimportant and it is true that kids who focus exclusively on academics lose out in making social connections that do become important in later life-- including for careers.


KeyStone
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Question:

 

Some universities currently set aside a certain number of spots for minorities, even if they would not otherwise attain the spot through meritocracy alone. If there comes a time, where Caucasian students are not performing well as other groups, such that their numbers are significantly underrepresented relative to their percentage of the overall population, would setting spots aside for Caucasians be considered?


Evening Star
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Sven wrote:

The Maclean's article said:

Quote:

After California passed Proposition 209 in 1996 forbidding affirmative action in the state’s public dealings, Asians soared to 40 per cent of the population at public universities, even though they make up just 13 per cent of state residents.

Assuming those statistics are correct, why is that a bad thing?

As I read it, the bad part was the implication that prior to this, public universities in CA were actually discriminating against 'Asians'.


RevolutionPlease
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Don't expect Sven to notice that.  ;)


theboxman
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Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Do we know this? I assume the article and people we are speakign of are students who went to at least elementary school in China. A great many may be the kids of immigrants but also a large numebr are indeed international students. There are large numbers of Chinese international students here. In fact I have met a good many here in Ottawa as we rent rooms to them. And I ahve heard their side of the cultural divide.

There certainly are differences and I think it is a wonderful thing that we have this diversity in our universities.

 

Considering that international students form less than 10% of the undergraduate student body at the University of Toronto (5182 out of 55352), not all of whom are of East Asian descent (according to UofT statistics on geographical origins of international students, only 35% come from Asia) then for UofT to be named as one of the schools supposedly "Too Asian," a sizable majority of UofT's "Asian students" are domestic students, i.e., Asian-Canadians. UBC has similar statistics, with 24044 undergraduate students in the Vancouver campus and 4295 international students, of whom less than half are of East Asian origin, i.e., roughly 7% of the student body are international students from East Asia. If UBC is 43% Asian, as the Maclean's article notes, then yes, in large part, it is Asian-Canadian students we are talking about here. 

Your assumption has no basis in fact, and is indeed the underlying problem in the Maclean's article -- the preconceived notion that Asian=foreign. Have you watched the clips on the 1979 W5 "Campus Giveaway" incident? We've been through these wrongheaded assumptions before. 

 

References: 

http://www.utoronto.ca/about-uoft/quickfacts.htm

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.utoronto.ca/__shared/assets/FB2008PartD2852.pdf

http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/services-for-media/ubc-facts-figures/#4


Sean in Ottawa
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KeyStone wrote:

Question:

 

Some universities currently set aside a certain number of spots for minorities, even if they would not otherwise attain the spot through meritocracy alone. If there comes a time, where Caucasian students are not performing well as other groups, such that their numbers are significantly underrepresented relative to their percentage of the overall population, would setting spots aside for Caucasians be considered?

A case would have to be made that the Caucasians are suffering from systemic racism. I can't imagine such a case being made.

What they could consider do instead is change the admissions to a points system that would reward more than marks alone. I am not advocating that but that is the option.


theboxman
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Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Many of the Chinese students also want to spend time with each other-- and they also have more things in common. The approach to study priorities will always drive a wedge between people where the party kids hang out tgether while the working kids go to the library. I am nto sure why we would pretend this does nto happen or that there is anythign wrong with that.

Because there is no basis for their assertion that this distinction runs across racial or cultural lines. The article provided no evidence that such was the case. Rather, it merely repeated tired "model minority" stereotypes. 


Sean in Ottawa
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There is lots of basis to support that this runs along cultural lines and none whatsoever that it has anythigng to do with race.


CYS
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Catchfire wrote:
Hi CYS, your post at #20 is highly problematic and largely based on North American myths and prejudices about Asian culture. To be specific, it is not based on concrete evidence or true in any universe but imaginary ones. Please keep in mind when posting on issues of race and colour that Canada operates in the throes of white privilege, and most of our assumptions about marginalized cultures are as firm as vapour.

Cultural differences in learning methods are a reality. The bookish learning developed out of the existence of numerous Chinese dialects and one standard written language. The Confucian culture puts a great deal of emphasis on copying canonical works, both for content and calligraphy. There is nothing culturalist about recognizing this, any more than pointing out that European societies base their educational methods on Greco-Roman practice. And there is no "Asian" culture. Here, we're talking about Han Chinese society, though the Confucian influence spread to neighboring cultures, like Korea. And most Chinese and Chinese-Canadian students aren't "marginalized" any more than their European-Canadian peers--many of them are from very wealthy families, either as foreign students, or the children of Entrepreneur and Investor-class Immigrants. And it's ludicrous to refer to Han Chinese society as "marginalized." This is the culture of one of the world's wealthiest countries, with a huge trade surplus with the U.S. and a massive, nuclear-armed military that scares the crap out of its neighbors. And, if you want to look at "marginalized" Asian cultures, look no further than (Inner) Mongolia, East Turkestan and Tibet, which are struggling under the jackboot of Han colonialism and racism, and Communist brutality.

Quote:
But isn't it generally easier to learn to read and write a second language than to learn to speak it if you are not learning it at a fairly young age, especially when the sound set of Chinese languages is so different from English?

A prof I had was a Mormon missionary in Taiwan. He found Mandarin extremely easy to learn to speak, becoming fluent in about six months. The tones in Putonghua exist in English, but just get used for different things (intonation in questions, etc.) and many of the sounds are found in English. The writing system is a pain to learn, but this goes for native Chinese speakers, too, especially if they speak something like Min. Mandarin and English syntax and basic grammar are similar enough to pick up quickly. The nasty aspect of English is the complex phonetics. English has thousands of possible syllables and consonant-clusters, including voiced final consonants. Unlike English grammar, this is a major pain for Chinese speakers to learn, but ESL schools in China spend very little time on conversational skills, devoting most of the lessons to teaching the spoken word. Every language has its quirks. For instance, Slavic languages have very involved grammar for English speakers, while English tenses and articles drive Slavic ESL learners nuts. Phonotactics is the big headache for Chinese ESL students, but they don't get enough conversational practice. And the increasing tendancy of Chinese youth and their parents to only socialize amongst other Chinese-Canadians and use things like Chinese ATM options isn't helping. You ultimately learn to speak a language by actually speaking it, but too many Chinese-Canadians are continuing to converse exclusively in Mandarin, or Cantonese.

 

 

 

 


Maysie
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Thanks for starting this thread, boxman, and it's always great to see you posting.

I've been offline for the past three days. And I'm currently jet-lagged and will not be commenting on this thread as a moderator until tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.

But I will say two things. The first is that most posters to this thread seem to have not actually read the rather lengthy Maclean's article. Please take the time to read it. The article is sloppily written, and wouldn't pass a first year reference essay assignment. No citations, and all the "proof" of the thesis which is "There are too many non-partying high-marks Asians in certain universities in Canada. This is a bad thing." is hobbled together by random (white) people's various dumbass opinions. Except for one Asian guy.

No stats, no data, nothing. How this is news I really don't understand.

And second, some shameless self-promotion. Warning: lots of profanity as I was really angry when I wrote it, and I still am.

[tooting own horn alert]

My blog: "Too Asian"? Are you F*cking Kidding me?

[/tooting own horn alert]


theboxman
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Sean in Ottawa wrote:

There is lots of basis to support that this runs along cultural lines and none whatsoever that it has anythigng to do with race.

Such as?


6079_Smith_W
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theboxman wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

There is lots of basis to support that this runs along cultural lines and none whatsoever that it has anythigng to do with race.

Such as?

Well I remember a comment from a dear friend of mine when she first walked into a Canadian university. She couldn't believe that the instructors were basically going through the book and teaching the class the contents. In her country of origin, standard practice was that students would come to class with the text material in their heads, prepared to discuss, analyze and expand on its content.

To her mind, the first few years of Canadian university was like a high school education model in which the teacher holds the students' hands and walks them through through it, and teaches them to learn information, not think. I know that since that time (and since my stint in university) our old school now has a mandatory class to teach students how to write.

So is it cultural? Not sure if I have the right perspective to answer that. And is it genetic? I may not be smart, but I know enough to not even go near that one.


kropotkin1951
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Sean in Ottawa wrote:

To clarify I am talking about Chinese culture with respect to education-- that is Chinese kids who went to school in China and were first socialized there. The others, they are Canadian of Chinese ancestry. This conversation is not about "pre-confederation" immigrants. Sure there is some culture you get but the bulk of your cultural experiences come from the environment you experience. Those with Chinese parents who went to school there expressing their values certainly have some Chinese cultural influences (although I don't know many personally) but the ones I know and am talking about are kids that actually went to school there and are now here. They definitely have a cultural approach to study that is different than that predominant here.

This article is about asian students.  Now if you want to narrow it down to first generation mainland China immigrants then your views have some merit.  When you use mainland Chinese as the pattern for all "Chinese" then that is stereotyping.  

Where I live saying Chinese and meaning mainland Chinese makes no sense.  Besides Canadian born and raised Chinese there are many Taiwanese people here, Vietnamese Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese etc etc.  They are about as similar as a German is to a Portuguese. Some things in common but very different cultures.  By definition  using your sons characteristics in a generalized statement is stereotyping.


Sean in Ottawa
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theboxman are you seriously suggesting that Canadian and Chinese attitudes to education and the way education is managed are not different?

"Cultural" means this is a human construct. They are either the same, the differences are cultural or they are somehow genetic. I think simple elimination can get you to the right answer. That the study of differing systems and how it affects the students is a whole field in pedagogy should tell you something.

I have spent a lot of time working with a Chinese school since my wife taught in one until last year and I assisted and worked with a number of their students for a time. Our son lived all his life in China till age 10 and since then we have dealt with his adaptation to the Canadian school system-- a lot more than language. We rent rooms to visiting professors sent from China to study the differences in pedagogy between Canada and China and how the students themselves are different. They are mostly mandated to study language education (essentially how immersion or language based training is done as that is the department I have had the most contact with). I have heard a great deal from several of these professionals about the differences between students and learning styles since this is of prime interest to them-- the differences in their approach to the university and their university objectives is fascinating to our guests so they often want to discuss it.

To acknowledge that there are differences is not "racist" it is not anti-Chinese culture-- it does not presume that one is superior. But they sure are different and the students do develop different attitudes. I would suggest that to argue there are no differences would be imposing a Canadian vision of education and education values and somehow presuming this is universal-- that is not a progressive idea.

There are not only differences between education systems, styles, techniques there are also differences in values between what skills are considered most important.

My point was that such cultural differences apply only to people who have come through that system and to a lesser degree those who are influenced primarily by them. Culture is a great deal more than dance and painting and writing.

If you are implying that my experience with Chinese is somehow anti-Chinese or simplistic or stereotypes, you are knocking on the wrong door. There is a lot of study in to the various education systems around the world in English as well as other languages including Chinese. I hardly think there is much to gain by having to prove that there are value differences here.

The level of support (read sacrifice) that immigrants especially Chinese will provide for their children's education is well known-- does this have to be proven? I think it is even more absurd to think they could be the same or that our approach which most educators here consider a work-in-progress could be universal.

The article is simplistic; the headline is nasty. The core reality behind the article is that the students are different. That the Chinese system (I assume other Asian ones are likely similar but am not familiar with them), emphasizes information over process, social connections etc. is not even controversial. That Canadian educators have chosen to emphasize method, process etc. over raw information is also beyond dispute-- these are intentional differences. Both education systems constantly are aware of these differences and study each other because they re-evaluate their take on these on an ongoing basis.I think most educators would find a controversy over this to be ridiculous. Neither education system is so sure of itself as to not watch the other with more than curiosity.

That these differences would create different types of students who may not fully understand each other is a logical conclusion.That there is a range and individual exceptions does not negate the trends. That these attitudes are in part informed from wider cultural values and in part the local education science with its prevailing biases is also a given since where else would they come from?

You only run in to trouble if you start drawing conclusions that one is better, or that they need to be kept apart, or that selection other than merit should be considered. The article is clumsy and its title bigoted, but there is no basis to go after everyone who acknowledges that students who come from very different experiences are different.

While we are at it we can also acknowledge that, when speaking of China, there is a huge generation gap like we have not seen here since the 1960s. The cultural differences between one generation in China and another are themselves huge. To assume that there are not huge gaps between those kids and Canadians is to defy reality.

Another point that is not deniable is the level and type of diversity in Chinese schools is less than here and Chinese students are not used to as much diversity themselves may also choose to spend time with what is familiar especially so far from home and when there are language barriers in addition to cultural attitudes to socialization etc. As well Chinese students in University there are regimented more than Canadians are here and have fewer personal choices. Efforts to bring the school populations together are laudable but university budgets are pressured from all directions. I find little that is surprising here.

It is important to remember that we are speaking of individuals but it is pointless to deny that there are not group dynamics, cultural and education system differences and huge differences between the experiences of students from here and those from China.

A note of caution in reading this thread-- I am writing assuming that the big differences being spoken of here are between those who went to school and China and those who have here not those who have a Chinese-looking face or name but who have been socialized here. I see some upthread are not on the same wavelength and are imagining that we are speaking about second generation Asians who only look slightly different for those who want to focus on that. That is why it was so important for me to emphasize that what we are talking about is cultural not racial because as soon as you discuss race, none of this applies as of course any so-called race placed in the same environment will be influenced by that environment not their so-called race.

 


kropotkin1951
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Sean in Ottawa wrote:

A note of caution in reading this thread-- I am writing assuming that the big differences being spoken of here are between those who went to school and China and those who have here not those who have a Chinese-looking face or name but who have been socialized here. I see some upthread are not on the same wavelength and are imagining that we are speaking about second generation Asians who only look slightly different for those who want to focus on that. That is why it was so important for me to emphasize that what we are talking about is cultural not racial because as soon as you discuss race, none of this applies as of course any so-called race placed in the same environment will be influenced by that environment not their so-called race.

 

Sean that is what you are talking about.  The thread is about an article that makes no such distinction.  While I have no problem with you narrowing your comments to only Mainland Chinese first generation immigrants I find it weird you think everyone should also just talk about your perspective and not the actual article from the OP.


Sean in Ottawa
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Cross-posted with you Kropotkin--

When we are speaking about Asians this means MOSTLY mainland Chinese and they are clearly the ones being spoken of in the article if you read it carefully. Most of the Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Hong Kong immigrants are second generation -- they are a small percentage of the foreign students in Canada today and most who identify with those origins as I say are second generation or have been here since childhood.

When it comes to Chinese approaches to education in fact while there may be a lot of differences between the Chinese you speak of (indeed many Vietnamese in Canada are of Chinese extraction) the same themes apply and while I have not had as much direct experience with them, I have heard them say much the same things about the differences. However, there is no indication that they are as segregated as the Mainland Chinese, who are clearly the main subjects of the article.

It might not surpise that many here too understand that there is basically a North American approach, a European approach and pretty much the rest of the world. This is no place to take a stand on stereotyping because these main trends are ones where the rest of the world is more similar and the differences between various Asians when it comes to this are not nearly as significant as what they have in common.

I am mystified why the observation that there exist differences is seen as offensive in itself. What is done from there may be problematic such as the tone of the article and the headline but that there are significant differences in the approach is not.

Here is another difference and I have seen stats but don't have access to them off the top of my head. Asians in general do not use credit as much for higher education and the famileis often pay as they go whereas Canadian studetns are more likely to use student loans. This means that the family is footing more of the bill directly and may have a different say in the education priorities of the student.


Catchfire
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Quote:
Well I remember a comment from a dear friend of mine when she first walked into a Canadian university. She couldn't believe that the instructors were basically going through the book and teaching the class the contents. In her country of origin, standard practice was that students would come to class with the text material in their heads, prepared to discuss, analyze and expand on its content.

This was exactly my impression upon walking into one of my first university classes. My "country of origin" is Canada. The problem here is the asumption that simply because your friend is from a different "country of origin," it must be the reason her expectations didn't align with her experience (instead of, for example, a poor teacher, the history of that particular institution, the weather that day, etc.). This is the same trick Macleans tries to pull: here are differences, here are bullshit cultural tropes random white kids believe in, therefore they must be connected.

No one is trying to argue that universities are monocultural. There are many "cultures" at any given university.They can be (but aren't always) rooted in race, class, geography, community, faculty, and countless other things. Macleans isn't doing a cultural study here. It is coding skin colour as "culture" and lumping in anyone who could remotely fit into that category including Canadian students. In fact, it is Asian-Canadians who remain most targeted by this article, whose main point seems to be that "Asians" can't drink, don't want to have fun and will take all of whitey's jobs before they even graduate. I encourage any who have a problem with this analyis to read Maysie's blog, or Jezebel or the NP articles I posted. The article even blames Asians for their own marginalization because their culture is too isolated--they "keep to themselves." We don't have to effect a complex analysis here: the whole article is a pack of racist lies.

CYS wrote:
The Confucian culture puts a great deal of emphasis on copying canonical works, both for content and calligraphy. There is nothing culturalist about recognizing this, any more than pointing out that European societies base their educational methods on Greco-Roman practice....we're talking about Han Chinese society, though the Confucian influence spread to neighboring cultures, like Korea. And most Chinese and Chinese-Canadian students aren't "marginalized" any more than their European-Canadian peers--many of them are from very wealthy families, either as foreign students, or the children of Entrepreneur and Investor-class Immigrants. And it's ludicrous to refer to Han Chinese society as "marginalized." This is the culture of one of the world's wealthiest countries, with a huge trade surplus with the U.S. and a massive, nuclear-armed military that scares the crap out of its neighbors. And, if you want to look at "marginalized" Asian cultures, look no further than (Inner) Mongolia, East Turkestan and Tibet, which are struggling under the jackboot of Han colonialism and racism, and Communist brutality.

Your description of "Confucian" cultures, aside from being cartoonishly generalizing, could easily apply to English-speaking cultures who also (shock! horror!) praise a canon, whether it be Biblical or Shakespearean. Moreover, your generalizations of Chinese students as all "very wealthy" is an ignorant, racist generalization. China's economic colonization of its territories has nothing to do with this article, whose primary aim is to frighten white families in a renewed appeal to yellow fever. It is racist tripe, and if you can't recognize that, you won't last long on babble. Finally, the Macleans article is primarily talking about Asian Canadians, not immigrants. Get this through your head. Any further attempts to explain to us how evil the Chinese are in an attempt to justify this racist crap will end up in a suspension. I hope that's clear.

Oh, and here's a formal tip to others: "Caucasian" is not a politically correct word for "white" person. It is, however, a term that attempts to strip privilege and hegemonic power from whiteness by decontextualizing it.


theboxman
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Joined: Nov 25 2008

I wasn't aware that anecdote is now considered rigorous evidence. I will get to specific counterpoints later as I have to prep for a class I'm teaching today (with students who are composed of some Asians, some of whom are excellent students, some of whom aren't -- just like everyone else), but as a preview, I would argue that yes, Sean, you are overgeneralizing from a very limited range of experience and working from a whole set of unexamined assumptions (e.g., that China lacks diversity, that Chinese immigrants to Canada are representive of the totality of some imagined construct of "Chinese culture"). Without a rigorous analysis that accounts for a complex set of factors (class, parents' levels of education, etc.) that have been shown to have far greater determining effects on student educational outcomes, arguments based on a reified notion of "culture" (as if this was a fixed set of horizons and not a site of contestation, as if "China" were a monolithic entity without segmentations of region, class, ethnic identification, etc.) are largely without merit. 

On another point, an unspoken corollary of the cultural argument for East Asian educational outcomes is to give alibi to the claim that the relative marginalization of other racialized groups in education (Afro-Canadians, First Nations) is also an effect of culture -- in this case by a cultural lack of emphasis on education. In other words, at the heart of the argument from culture is a dismissal of systemic and structural racisms in the institutions of education. 


Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

Kropotkin the article is sloppy and unclear but in several respects it speaks to issues that mostly apply to mainland Chinese-- I think most readers of this article who actually have current associations with universities well understand what this is talking about. The number of Mainland Chinese in our schools dwarfs most other Asian sources for students. I am not sure why this is not more explicit but people do know this. The anecdote about speaking mandarin in the class ought to help give a clue to that.

The issue here is not the presence of a small minority of students from Vietnam and Taiwan but a large minority from Mainland China-- the issue is a reaction (not one I endorse) to the volume so we are not talking about the smaller groups but the very large one I am speaking about and I am very confident the article is speaking about and I am also confident most readers are aware of-- unless they are not very much in touch with universities currently.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

boxman, thank you for your excellent posts throughout this thread.


Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

Catchfire wrote:

Finally, the Macleans article is primarily talking about Asian Canadians, not immigrants. Get this through your head.

Why because you have some proof?

I don't accept that at all-- and I think that is your opinion and one I don't need to "get through my head."

I think it is very clear that we are speaking mostly of the very large population of Chinese international students together with Chinese born immigrants. The article specifically speaks about people more comfortable speaking Mandarin. To give you a clue-- most Chinese immigrant kids are as comfortable speaking English as Chinese unless they are very recent immigrants.

I think there is an undercurrent in this thread of people who are over-reaching to make some political point while denying reality on the ground.

Nobody here is denying that racism exists-- what is being denied here is there need to pretend that these kids are all the same and that there are not significant cultural-based differences at work here.

For those who think they are somehow defending the Chinese-- they are the first to acknowledge that these differences exist and, no, they do not feel they are inferior-- indeed most make no value judgement other than the fact that these differences exist and are hugely significant.

As for the issue of diversity in China-- we are talking about the diversity in terms of the cultural approach to education -- China has some 56 ethnic minorities but that is not the side of culture we are talking about. The students who come here may come from various ethnic minorities in China but their approach to education is very similar.


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

Learning is about nurturing what nature has provided.


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