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Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough

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An up-close look at the education arms race of after-school learning, academic competitions, and the perceived failure of even our best schools to educate children Beyond soccer leagues, music camps, and drama lessons, today's youth are in an education arms race that begins in elementary school. In Hyper Education, Pawan Dhingra uncovers the growing world of high-achievemen An up-close look at the education arms race of after-school learning, academic competitions, and the perceived failure of even our best schools to educate children Beyond soccer leagues, music camps, and drama lessons, today's youth are in an education arms race that begins in elementary school. In Hyper Education, Pawan Dhingra uncovers the growing world of high-achievement education and the after-school learning centers, spelling bees, and math competitions that it has spawned. It is a world where immigrant families vie with other Americans to be at the head of the class, putting in hours of studying and testing in order to gain a foothold in the supposed meritocracy of American public education. A world where enrichment centers, like Kumon, have seen 194 percent growth since 2002 and target children as young as three. Even families and teachers who avoid after-school academics are getting swept up. Drawing on over 100 in-depth interviews with teachers, tutors, principals, children, and parents, Dhingra delves into the why people participate in this phenomenon and examines how schools, families, and communities play their part. Moving past Tiger Mom stereotypes, he addresses why Asian American and white families practice what he calls hyper education and whether or not it makes sense. By taking a behind-the-scenes look at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, other national competitions, and learning centers, Dhingra shows why good schools, good grades, and good behavior are seen as not enough for high-achieving students and their parents and why the education arms race is likely to continue to expand.


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An up-close look at the education arms race of after-school learning, academic competitions, and the perceived failure of even our best schools to educate children Beyond soccer leagues, music camps, and drama lessons, today's youth are in an education arms race that begins in elementary school. In Hyper Education, Pawan Dhingra uncovers the growing world of high-achievemen An up-close look at the education arms race of after-school learning, academic competitions, and the perceived failure of even our best schools to educate children Beyond soccer leagues, music camps, and drama lessons, today's youth are in an education arms race that begins in elementary school. In Hyper Education, Pawan Dhingra uncovers the growing world of high-achievement education and the after-school learning centers, spelling bees, and math competitions that it has spawned. It is a world where immigrant families vie with other Americans to be at the head of the class, putting in hours of studying and testing in order to gain a foothold in the supposed meritocracy of American public education. A world where enrichment centers, like Kumon, have seen 194 percent growth since 2002 and target children as young as three. Even families and teachers who avoid after-school academics are getting swept up. Drawing on over 100 in-depth interviews with teachers, tutors, principals, children, and parents, Dhingra delves into the why people participate in this phenomenon and examines how schools, families, and communities play their part. Moving past Tiger Mom stereotypes, he addresses why Asian American and white families practice what he calls hyper education and whether or not it makes sense. By taking a behind-the-scenes look at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, other national competitions, and learning centers, Dhingra shows why good schools, good grades, and good behavior are seen as not enough for high-achieving students and their parents and why the education arms race is likely to continue to expand.

46 review for Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Cook

    This a complex, compassionate, and challenging account of families engaged in "hyper-education" for their children, which is education above and beyond what is provided by schools pursued not for remediation or extra help but as an attempt to get ahead in a meritocratic race. Although Dhingra's case studies are from middle and upper-class American families of South Asian descent, he argues and I agree that the conclusions are much more generally applicable. As Dingra argues, much of the narrativ This a complex, compassionate, and challenging account of families engaged in "hyper-education" for their children, which is education above and beyond what is provided by schools pursued not for remediation or extra help but as an attempt to get ahead in a meritocratic race. Although Dhingra's case studies are from middle and upper-class American families of South Asian descent, he argues and I agree that the conclusions are much more generally applicable. As Dingra argues, much of the narrative about Asian Americans and education is premised upon an implicit hierarchy in which White middle-class Americans are "the norm," Blacks and Latinx the problem, and Asian Americans the model minority who are nevertheless seen as the problem because they go "too far" with education. As Dhingra carefully argues, there are real problems with the way some Asian American families approach education, but these problems reflect much wider problems within American education and society. You cannot set up a system as a giant never-ending competition and then act surprised when people are competitive. But it's not all doom and gloom, and the families Dhingra profiles are not at all one-dimensional cautionary tales. The problem is not a focus on academics, or even particularly intensive parenting. The problem is a system where failure is presented as such a terrifying option that people are motivated primarily by fear. Treating childhood and education as a meritocratic race be flawed, but many of those engaged in running it have nevertheless found meaning.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    The book follows spelling-bee contestants from South Asian families and, separately, tracks the rise of paid supplemental education services since the passage of No Child Left Behind. I learned that Kumon starts at age 3, and spelling-bee tutors can charge $200 an hour. The families' emphasis on hyper-education is completely rational. They are understandably responding to a lack of social capital, and the market-obsessed neoliberalism. We live in a winner-takes-all era, and, unless you have soci The book follows spelling-bee contestants from South Asian families and, separately, tracks the rise of paid supplemental education services since the passage of No Child Left Behind. I learned that Kumon starts at age 3, and spelling-bee tutors can charge $200 an hour. The families' emphasis on hyper-education is completely rational. They are understandably responding to a lack of social capital, and the market-obsessed neoliberalism. We live in a winner-takes-all era, and, unless you have social connections, the competition starts early. The spelling-bee champions genuinely like it, and the author reasonably asks how it's so different from AAU basketball or dance lessons. Nevertheless, kids spend six hours a weekend at the supplemental math classes, and that amps up pressure and leads some to depression and self-harm. The author proposes some solutions, including focusing less on tiger parenting and more on the free-range stuff. And, maybe in the next generation, the economy will change enough and the kids can come to believe that, as one of the moms in the book puts it, "I kind of feel average is good too. I mean, average still can get you a happy life and a successful job."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mira Debs

    A fascinating examination of the cultural logic of first gen affluent Asian American parents in the United States who rely on supplemental education and educational competition as a distinguishing strategy in the "education arms race." This book is a sympathetic portrait of parents and places the critique by administrators and educators in the context of a long campaign to tell immigrants and people of color how they should parent. This book is an essential companion to Annette Lareau's Unequal A fascinating examination of the cultural logic of first gen affluent Asian American parents in the United States who rely on supplemental education and educational competition as a distinguishing strategy in the "education arms race." This book is a sympathetic portrait of parents and places the critique by administrators and educators in the context of a long campaign to tell immigrants and people of color how they should parent. This book is an essential companion to Annette Lareau's Unequal Childhoods and Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou's Asian American Achievement Paradox

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Interesting book about Indian Americans and other Asian Americans looking at the American school system. They find it not academically sound, too chaotic, and focused in achievement. They see it as more focused on sports and not academic. But they also look at their hyper focused obsession on education and the pressure it puts on their kids.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    A look at mainly Asian and Indian students and the expectations and stereotypes that they experience through their education. Other students and topics talked about as well. Interesting look at certain topics involving a students or parents expectations.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Very interesting, well researched perspective

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brinda Narayan

    https://brindasnarayan.com/hypereduca... https://brindasnarayan.com/hypereduca...

  8. 4 out of 5

    EntwifeintheGlen

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mandi

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jin Goh

  11. 4 out of 5

    Qing Liu

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sidra

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie Antypas

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christina Pedersen

  16. 5 out of 5

    CHEN

  17. 5 out of 5

    Graham Bates

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caty

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mahima

  20. 5 out of 5

    a

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cat

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rolf

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jamison

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

  28. 4 out of 5

    AJ Payne

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mariam

  30. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

  31. 4 out of 5

    Sage Kampitsis

  32. 5 out of 5

    Anita

  33. 4 out of 5

    Frank Spencer

  34. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  35. 5 out of 5

    Sindhu

  36. 5 out of 5

    Sweta

  37. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Legaspi

  39. 5 out of 5

    Saumitra Thakur

  40. 5 out of 5

    Shamus Hill

  41. 5 out of 5

    Viral

  42. 4 out of 5

    Shana

  43. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne McClung

  44. 4 out of 5

    Rosy

  45. 4 out of 5

    Dubya

  46. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Gold

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