Asian-Americans: Smarter?

As regular readers of this blog know, I have a long history of work in Asia, especially in China and Vietnam. I speak the languages of both of those countries and got to know their citizens. And I don’t deny a deep fondness for the Chinese and the Vietnamese.

Today, the U.S. is home to many former residents of China and Vietnam as well as those from other Asian countries. All that I have talked to express gratitude for the opportunity to live here. They also show an inclination that sets them aside from other Americans: their devotion to learning.

Nearly all Asians I have known have worked hard to educate themselves earning college and port-graduate degrees. They cherish learning far more than their western counterparts. We western Americans often look upon schooling as an unpleasant necessity, and we characteristically avoid as much of it as we can. I always stood out from my fellow Americans because of my love of learning and ended up earning a master’s degree, a doctorate, and then some. The great reward of education for me was learning how to think better. Because I am a writer by vocation, clear and vivid thinking is invaluable.

So I share with Asian citizens a love of study not usually found among Americans with a European heritage. And I conclude that, yes, my Asian friends are indeed the smarter ones: they see treasures where the rest of us are blind.

4 thoughts on “Asian-Americans: Smarter?”

  1. Tom, I have no doubt that many Asian-Americans are bright and value education. But I think we Americans throw them all into the “smart” category to our own detriment. My daughter is Korean. When she was little, I had to work hard in the school system to get her services for a learning disability. I came up against assumptions about her being bright. She was/is bright — and she needed support.

    This has been a difficult time for Asian-Americans. They have suffered in part because of absurd blame for the pandemic and, I think, in part resentment/jealousy over their intellectual abilities. Like Caucasians, I see them as a diverse group, as they should be.


  2. As always, Rose, your words are right on target. I don’t believe that one’s race is a determinant of one’s intelligence. But it is obvious to me that the cultural characteristics of of various groups shape the way they live and their success. My experience with Asian Americans is that they are much more concerned with politeness than those of us with European ancestors. They also revere education. All that means that they are, on average, more successful than us non-Asians. So more power to them. We all benefit from their hard work.


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