Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Asian-American Perspective on the Goal of Education

I have heard that for anything in life to be accomplished, you need to begin with the end in mind. As I have been contemplating this decision of home schooling, I have also been thinking about the goals that my parents had for me in education. I might be wrong, but I think most Asian parents have the same goals for their kids: go to an Ivy League school, become a doctor or at least marry one, and be wealthy enough to buy your parents a house and a nice car as a token of your gratitude. That equals success to the Asian community; it's a final certificate of accomplishment that the journey to America was worth all the sacrifices along the way. So far, I have failed to deliver on all 3 of these: I went to Northwestern, married a white guy who at the time was a band director (gasp!), and we are still working on our Dave Ramsey plan for our finances.

If you are Asian-American, you totally track with what I'm saying. If not, I am letting you in on the secrets of the Asian community, not that any of this is really rocket science. Have you ever wondered why all Asians are such high achievers? It's because their parents are drilling a message into them every day: You are worth what you produce.

Don't get me wrong; I am very grateful for my parents and the discipline they instilled in me. Without it, I could not be the person I am today or the musician I am either. I do owe them a lot for their perseverance with me. There are some things I want to pass on to my kids from my Korean upbringing- being hospitable to others, respecting elders, and being disciplined, but I definitely don't want to pass on the notion that the end goal of education is to pay me back for all my sacrifices. Or that you study just to get all A's, or to obtain a perfect score on the SAT's, or to secure an admission to an Ivy League school. These are all great things, but if those are the goals, then hasn't learning been lost for the sake of education?

That's what I want to be careful of in this process. What's my end goal of education for my kids? I want them to be thoughtful, articulate, and godly women. I want them to be well-read, be able to make connections with past authors, current authors, the Bible, and current events. I want them to be able to think critically about topics and write about them with clarity. I want them to have hearts that are open to others and value love over any material possession or personal skill. I want them to be content with their lot in life, whether they become a waitress or secretary or doctor or penniless writer. I want them to see that their early years were spent in training: their character, their worldview, their understanding of God. I want them to know that they are worth so much in God's eyes, not because of what they do, but simply because of who they are. The goal of education in my view is to give them space to grow and learn to be the women God has called them to be. Whether I home school or send them to public school, I pray for the wisdom to be able to begin with that end in mind!


Rebecca said...

Beautiful sentiment!

Victorious Conqueror said...

I think you have this right. In addition, the Bible has significant wisdom for what and how our children are to be taught. Obedience, respect for their parents, generosity, compassion, etc. are all in there.

SpringSnoopy said...

I completely resonate, girl!

(And HEY, I was contemplating and wrote about (not yet published) this whole Asian-American educational perspective JUST the other day!!!! (I'm still in my draft version of my latest blog entry re: the homeschooling conference I attended)