Friday, 30 November 2007

Acting Asian

One of the blogs I read regularly had an article about academic swotiness. I don't have first hand experience of this (obviously) but it is a perjorative within the American black community to be accused of "acting white". In school it is apparently used against pupils who academically excel. The article says this is now passe and the new term is "acting Asian".

Which makes me wonder what a Singaporean school kid would understand if accused of "acting white"? Given the famously elitist Singaorean school system it's likely the opposite meaning of the American one.

This segues nicely with another commentator who suggests that Children of Overbearing, High Stress Parents Hit Singles and Doubles. The hypothesis is that kids subjected to extraordinary stress to achieve academically will go on to be good solid performers in life. Probably not drug-taking dropouts or high-flying Nobel prize winners, but middle of the bell-curve.

To steal from our earlier discussion of hedgehogs vs. foxes in business, you might say that the "overbearing parenting style" has a high expected value but low variance, whereas the "hands-off independent style" has extreme outcomes on either end of the distribution curve.

Singaporean parents (esp. Chinese) are stereotypical pushy of their kids and it is a national goal to get a Nobel prize winner. Personally I think such awards are lotteries and the small population of Singapore doesn't give them many chances to win, but the educationally-induced attitudes are a commonly cited factor also.