Trying not to raise a bumper crop of morons: Hong Kong’s ‘tutor kings and queens’

27 Nov

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi tackled the issue of “model minorities” in Is there a ‘model minority’ ??

Let’s get this out of the way, moi has always thought the term “minority” as applied to certain ethnic groups or cultures is and has been condescending and demeaning. Edward Schumacher-Matos, the NPR ombudsman writes in On Race: The Relevance of Saying ‘Minority’ http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2011/08/29/140040441/covering-race-considering-journalists-use-of-minority This article deals with American society, but the term reflects the thought of many whether dealing with American ethnic groups or international ethnic groups.

Schumacher-Matos cites Mallary Jean Tenore’s article, Journalists value precise language, except when it comes to describing ‘minorities’:

Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark said the word “minorities” may be going through a “semantic shift” — a change in the associations and meanings of words over time. “Sometimes the changes in a word take centuries,” Clark told me. “Other times it can happen very quickly.”

The word “girl,” for example, used to refer to a young person of either gender. The definition of “colored” has also shifted.

The term ‘colored’ was used for a long time to designate African Americans until it was deemed offensive. And it only really referred to ‘black’ people,” Clark said. “Now we have ‘persons of color,’ which seems to be a synonym for non-white. As the population changes, a term like ‘person of color’ rather than ‘minority’ might be more appropriate.”

Some people, however, argue that “person of color” is as bad as “minorities” or worse. We also may be limited by the AP Stylebook or our newsrooms’ style. When that’s the case, it helps to be open with readers about why we use certain terms.

On its “About” page, the Asian American Journalists Association explains: “AAJA uses the term ‘Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ to embrace all Americans — both citizens and residents — who self-identify with one or more of the three dozen nationalities and ethnic groups in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. We use this term to refer to our communities at large, as well as to our membership, which includes representatives from all these regions.”

Recently, the Los Angeles Times published a memo from Assistant Managing Editor Henry Fuhrmann explaining why the Times uses “Latino” over “Hispanic.” Some readers applauded the Times for its decision, while others suggested the term is misleading and raises more questions than it answers.

That’s the problem with using one word or phrase to describe an entire group of people — it never fully captures the nuances of that group. Inevitably, some people  are going to feel slighted or mischaracterized.http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/diversity-at-work/142934/journalists-value-precise-language-except-when-it-comes-to-describing-minorities/ http://drwilda.com/2012/06/23/is-there-a-model-minority/

It is difficult to theorize or surmise what is going on in a particular culture if one is not imbued with understanding the context of that culture. Still, Yojana Sharma’s BBC report about Hong Kong’s star tutor makes moi theorize that the families paying the hefty bill are not satisfied with being “minority” anythings.

Sharma reports in BBC article, Meet the ‘tutor kings and queens’ about the educators who are accorded as much adulation and status as rock stars in Hong Kong:

They strike glamorous poses in posters in shopping malls and on the sides of buses.

But they are not movie stars or supermodels: they are Hong Kong’s A-list “tutor kings” and “tutor queens”, offering pupils a chance to improve mediocre grades.

In Hong Kong’s consumer culture, looks sell. Celebrity tutors in their sophisticated hair-dos and designer trappings are treated like idols by their young fans who flock to their classes.

And they have earnings to match – some have become millionaires and appear regularly on television shows.

“If you want to be a top tutor, it definitely helps if you are young and attractive. Students look at your appearance,” said Kelly Mok, 26, a “tutor queen” at King’s Glory, one of Hong Kong’s largest tutorial establishments.

Her designer clothes and accessories are not just for the billboards; it’s how she likes to dress outside classes. But she is also careful to add that she wouldn’t be in such high demand if she could not deliver top grades in her subject,

Richard Eng from Beacon College is often credited with being the first of Hong Kong’s “star tutors”. A former secondary school teacher, he says he got the idea after he featured in photographs advertising his sister, a performance artist.

“In school all the teachers look the same, there’s no excitement,” he said.

Richard Eng has brought a show business approach to the world of improving exam grades

His own image appears on special ring-binders and folders containing study tips, or pens which harbour a pull-out scroll with his picture and other gifts. Such items became so sought after that they propelled him to near-rock star status among young people.

The celebrity tutor phenomenon is a result of the huge growth in out-of-school tutoring in Asia.

It is fuelled by highly pressured examination systems and ambitious parents wanting their children to secure places at top universities and high-status secondary schools.

In societies where success is equated with good exam results, parental anxiety converts into a “steady stream of revenue” for tutoring establishments, according to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The tutoring industry, or “shadow education” as the ADB calls it, has become very widespread in Asia, fed by the growth in universities and the rising proportion of school leavers aiming for university.

Hong Kong University’s professor Mark Bray, one of the authors of the ADB study, said a staggering 72% of final-year school students in Hong Kong now go to private tutors.

Richer families have always paid for individual tutoring, but the star tutors offer exam tips and revision notes to the less well-off, studying in groups of over 100.

‘Getting an edge’

It’s not just Hong Kong. Tutoring has “spread and intensified in Asia and become more commercialised,” said professor Bray. In South Korea, 90% of primary school children attend such classes.

Forget the elbow patches, tutor Kelly Mok teaches English with style

In South Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, tutorial schools use star tutors to attract even more students. “They have found a way to appeal to young people and pull them in. They create a buzz,” he said.

“We had this phenomenon of star tutors in Kota as well,” said Pramod Maheshwari, chief executive of Career Point Coaching School in Kota, Rajasthan, India, a city of residential tutorial colleges which attract students from all over the country.

“It can give you an edge.” But ultimately, he says, expansion of tutoring is driven not by personalities but by “the inefficiency of the school system”.

“Across India, students’ education level is not up to the mark, and millions are preparing for competitive college examinations. It is a huge market,” said Mr Maheshwari.

In China, where private tutorial schools were unknown until the economy opened up in the 1990s, New Oriental Education and Technology has grown to become one of the largest tutoring schools in Asia with around 2.4 million students this year.

It boasts 17,600 teachers in 49 cities and an online network of over 7.8 million users.

Listed on the New York stock exchange since 2006, its founder Michael Yu (also known as Yu Minhong), became a multi-millionaire on the back of his blend of rote learning exercises, stand-up comedy and motivational speeches.

A man from a humble background, who had become an English teacher at Peking University, Mr Yu used the Hong Kong model of employing star tutors to prepare students for tests for universities abroad.

Extensive tutoring is sometimes seen as contributing to East Asian countries’ high performance in international school comparisons, particularly in mathematics. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20085558

One person rarely speaks for a group, but members of a group can often provide useful insight about that group.

Here is Arthur Hu’s take on  INTRODUCTION TO BASIC ASIAN VALUES

One of the most central features of a culture are its values. Values are the standards by which one may judge the difference between good and bad, and the right and wrong things to do. Though some values are universally shared among all cultures, it is the contrast and differences in values of different cultures that can account for the interactions and perceptions that occur between different cultures.

Traditional values are a common thread among individuals in a culture. Stereotyping comes about because of common behavior patterns that are based on common values, and distortion and misperception can come about as a result of misunderstandings of those values. Stereotyping can also be dangerous because people are individuals with their own values which may vary a great deal from the traditional ideal. Values can vary quite a bit depending upon one’s generation, class, education, origin, among other factors. For example, there is considerable difference in what might be called “traditional” and “modern” American values.

Although each distinct Asian culture actually has its own set of values, they all share a common core, which is probably best documented in the Japanese and Chinese traditions, and by philosophers such as Confucius, whose writings had considerable influence throughout Asia. In the Asian American experience, these values interact with what might be called simply “western” or “Caucasian” values, but if one contrasts the values of America with those of Europe, it can be seen that these are really “Modern American” values that provide the best contrasts.

Asian values are very much inter-related. They all support the view of the individual as being a part of a much larger group or family, and place great importance on the well-being of the group, even at the expense of the individual. American values, on the other hand emphasize the importance of the well-being of the individual, and stresses independence and individual initiative. Although it may seem that values such as education, family, and hard work are shared between cultures, these values manifest themselves quite differently in the two cultures.

Some Asian values are so important that some of the cultures, especially the Japanese have given them names of their own, and are used commonly. Here is a list of some of the most outstanding values:

Ie (japanese) – The family as a basic unit of social organization, and as a pattern for the structure of society as a whole.

Education – The whole process of child rearing and education as a means of perpetuating society, and of attaining position within society.

Enyo (japanese) – The conscious use of silence, reserve in manner.

Han (chinese) Conformity, and the suppression of individual attriputes such as talen, anger, or wealth which might disrupt group harmony. (Chinese)

Amae (japanese) – To depend and presume upon the benevolence of others. A deep bonding in human relationships between one who is responsible for another, and one who must depend on another.

Giri (japanese) – Indebtedness, obligation and duty to others, reciprocity.

Gaman (japanese) – Endurance, sticking it out at all costs. Self-sacrifice for the sake of others.

Tui Lien (chinese) – Loss face, shame. The final standard as to how well one lives up to these values.

Family and Education

Probaly the most notable aspect of the modern “Asian Model Minority”­stereotype is that of the academic overachiever. A number of asian students have done conspicuously well in  terms of test scores, gifted student programs, admissions to prestigious schools, academic awards, and in classical music. Though obviously not all Asians fit this pattern, this trend can be attributed primarily to the basic notion of the family, and the central role that education plays in the family.

Great importance is placed on child rearing, and education is a funda­mental aspect of this. Asian parents are more likely to spend much more time with their children, and drive them harder, sometimes even at the expense of their personal time and ambitions of the parents themselves. Though Americans might consider Asian parents to be dominating, parents in turn are expected to give children all the support they can.

While it would no be unusual for an American parent to hire a babysitter to watch the kids while they go out, or expect their children to put them­selves through college lest the parents sacrifice their own stand of living, this is much less likely in an Asian family. Living in an extended family is not unusual, and filial piety, respect for parents is a very important principle.

Unlike the youth orientation in American culture, age and position are most highly respected. The Asian family has within it a heirarchy which is a mirror of the structure of society as whole. For example, the parent child relationship is carried further on to ruler and ruled, employer and employee. Education is the most valued way of achieving position, an success in education is viewed as an act of filial piety. In imperial times, examinations were the only way to achieve position in China. Even in America, education is seen as a key to social mobility, and economic opportunity. Education for their children was a major reason why many immigrants came to America from Asia.http://www.asianweek.com/2012/04/28/introduction-to-basic-asian-values/

There is no such thing as a “model minority” and getting rid of this myth will allow educators to focus on the needs of the individual student. Calling ethnic groups “minorities” is really a misnomer. According to Frank Bass’ Bloomberg article, Nonwhite U.S. Births Become the Majority for First Time:

Minority babies outnumbered white newborns in 2011 for the first time in U.S. history, the latest milestone in a demographic shift that’s transforming the nation.

The percentage of nonwhite newborns rose to 50.4 percent of children younger than a year old from April 2010 to July 2011, while non-Hispanic whites fell to 49.6 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau said today. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-17/non-white-u-s-births-become-the-majority-for-first-time.html

If a racial identifier must be used, it is better to describe the cultural group or ethnic group with an appropriate term for that group.

The is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education, there is what works to produce academic achievement in each population of students.

What moi observes from the Hong Kong case study is that success does not occur in a vacuum and that students from all walks of life can benefit from the individual intervention to prevent failure.

Related:

The Creation—and Consequences—of the Model Minority Myth http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/07/model_minority_myth_interview.html

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART © http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                             http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                                http://drwilda.com/

 

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