Why do Black Americans Fail in School?
Black Americans are not the only ones that fail in school. Hispanics fail too. In fact, worldwide, children from poor families generally fail in school.
Do American Blacks fail because they are less intelligent than other groups? Many psychologists with a racist agenda say that Blacks fail because they have a lower IQ than Whites.
In 2005, White Americans averaged a combined math-verbal SAT of 1068, compared to 982 for American Indians, 922 for Hispanics and 864 for Blacks. So Blacks came bottom of the SAT league table. This seems to indicate scientifically that Blacks are less intelligent than other Americans, on average. What I have left out is that in 2005, Asian-Americans averaged a combined math-verbal SAT of 1091, so Asian Americans topped the SAT league, a fact that white psychologists with a racial agenda have difficulty explaining.
I came across an article by Nicholas Kristof, a columnist in the New York Times. Kristof asked in a 2006 column: Why is Xuan-Trang Ho so perfect?
Trang came to the United States in 1994 as an 11-year-old Vietnamese girl who spoke no English. Her parents, neither having more than a high school education, settled in Nebraska and found jobs as manual laborers.
The youngest of eight children, Trang learned English well enough that when she graduated from high school, she was valedictorian. Now she is a senior at Nebraska Wesleyan with a 3.99 grade point average, a member of the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team and a Rhodes Scholar.
Why are Asians so successful in school and university even when, as in the case of Trang, their parents are poor manual workers who spoke little or no English when they arrived in America? And Trang spoke no English when she entered school in Nebraska at age eleven, yet she outperformed most Black students, who are born into English speaking families.
Kristof asked Trang the obvious question: how did she do so extraordinarily well, against such odds. Trang said "I can't speak for all Asian-Americans, but for me and my friends, it was because of the sacrifices that our parents made. ... It's so difficult to see my parents get up at 5 each morning to go to factories to earn $6.30 an hour. I see that there is so much that I can do in America that my parents couldn't."
Kristof canvasses the idea that Asians have higher IQs than other ethnic groups and rightly dismisses that notion. He concludes that there are ‘two and a half reasons’ for Asian success:
1. “First, as Trang suggests, is the filial piety nurtured by Confucianism for 2,500 years. Asian-American families may not always be warm and fuzzy, but they tend to be intact and focused on their children's getting ahead.”
2. “Second” Kristof says, “Confucianism encourages a reverence for education. In a Confucian culture, it is intuitive that the way to achieve glory and success is by working hard and getting A's.”
2.5 Kristof then advances the ‘half reason’: “American kids typically say in polls that the students who succeed in school are the ’brains.’ Asian kids typically say that the A students are those who work hard.”
Kristof’s ‘half reason’ is actually the most important reason. Hard work is the key to success in school whether the motivation to work hard comes from Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Buddhism.
As Trang says anyone can do well on tests …. if they work hard. Hers is a very valuable insight that contradicts the IQ myth that has been so prevalent among western psychologists for so long.
Motivation is the Secret of Success
I had a colleague at the University of New South Wales, a fellow sociologist, Dr. Phil Mead. Phil did some interesting research that showed that the children of non-English speaking immigrants to Australia performed better in school, on average, than their native-born Australian peers.
It was not just some immigrant children that performed well in school; immigrant children from all non-English speaking countries did better on average that the children of English-speaking families born in Australia.
The only way Phil Mead could explain the unexpected success of immigrant students from non-English speaking countries was their high level of motivation, which he observed when he interviewed them and their parents.
Their teachers, whom he also interviewed, did not expect these immigrant children to do well in school. After all they came from families that spoke little or no English and their parents were typically manual workers. According to all prevailing sociological observations at the time, these children should have performed poorly in school. But they did not perform poorly; on average they performed better than native English-speaking Australians, many of them performed exceptionally well.
Phil’s explanation was that these children’s high levels of motivation overcame their sociological disadvantages. Phil believed that immigrants are those people willing to take a risk and leave all that is familiar behind them in order to seek their fortune in a strange land. They are more ambitious than the peers they leave behind. It takes a high level of motivation and courage to leave the home country behind and venture into the unknown.
Phil hypothesized that these immigrants, who spoke little English and would have been unable to help their children directly with their studies nevertheless passed on something far more valuable to their children than learning: they passed on the will to succeed.
Motivation, it seems, is more important for success in school than IQ. This is something that hardly anyone believed at the time Phil Mead did his research. Now we have the groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman who explores recent findings in neuroscience. Goleman says: “At best, IQ contributes about 20 percent to the factors that determine life success … ‘The vast majority of one’s ultimate niche in society is determined by non-IQ factors, ranging from social class to luck’” The expectation that one will succeed in school and the ambition to do so are an essential part of the emotional intelligence that drives academic success.
The University of California - Berkeley has long been recognized for the pursuit of academic excellence. In the fall of 2009, the number of Asian freshmen at UC Berkeley rose to a record high of about 46 percent: this in a state where Asians make up only 12% of the population. Because Asian students work hard and are ambitious they are over-represented in California’s vaunted state university system by a factor of four.
Asians excel in school because they have the will to achieve, and they work hard. There is no reason at all why highly motivated Caucasians or Africans, Hispanics or Native Americans or Native Australians cannot also excel in school and university, and of course many do. But unfortunately many Black Americans do not perform at all well in school and this is because neither they nor their families expect them to do well in school. For that reason most of them do not aspire to do well in school. Academic excellent is simply not on their event horizon.
Is There an Answer for Blacks?
There may be new hope for Black Americans who want to do well in school. The BBC reports that “Until recently, home schooling in the US was mostly practised by white families, but a growing number in the black community are now also turning their back on the public school system and educating their children at home. Why?”
Sonya has not made life easy for herself. A single mother, who works for the US government, she now has the added burden of being a teacher to her 11-year-old son, Copeland.
It was not the violence, or even the fact that he was being bullied, that finally led to the decision to remove Copeland from his public school in what she describes as a "really bad area" of Washington DC, but the fact that he was "losing his love of learning".
I have no doubt that home schooling will benefit black children but it has its problems. It is very, very difficult for working parents to school their children at home. They simply do not have the time. Nor do they necessarily have the teaching skills.
And as the BBC correspondent says: “Not all parents can keep up with the demands of the curriculum, particularly if they want their offspring to go to college. Many children who are home-schooled in their early years return to the class room when they reach secondary school age.” {Home schooling: Why more black US families are trying it. By Brian Wheeler, BBC News, Washington, 15th March 2012}
Xuan-Trang Ho was not home schooled. Clearly this is something that can be undertaken only by parents who are, themselves, educated. The home schooling movement for Blacks, however, is part of a cooperative venture by committed Black parents. It provides an answer for educated Black parents. Perhaps a wider cooperative might be set up by Black parents to provide Black children with the family support they need to succeed in school as Xuan-Trang Ho did.
If Black American children are to succeed in school it is essential that they have their families at their back. Perhaps those Black parents who are organized for home schooling can start a wider group to support more Black families for their children to succeed in school.
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Copyright Michael Petty https://www.NeuroLearnings.com
For a more detailed discussion of what leads to success in school and how everyone can succeed in school see my book: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MichaelPetty

Author's Bio: 

Author's Bio:
Dr. MICHAEL PETTY is a leading authority on accelerated learning, IQ, Neuro Science and brainwave entrainment. He has a BA from Durham UK, an MA from Calgary and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was a Canada Council Doctoral Fellow and his 1980 research on change in IQ scores, published in the British Journal Educational Research is still cited in Psychological texts. His latest book is Michael Petty, IQ Unlimited, Amazon Kindle. Visit Dr Petty’s website at www.NeuroLearnings.com