Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's all my dads fault!

Gotta say I disagree with pretty much every word of this:

"Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?"
In a moment of exasperation last spring, I asked that question to a virtually all-black class of 12th-graders who had done horribly on a test I had just given. A kid who seldom came to class -- and was constantly distracting other students when he did -- shot back: "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study."

Another student angrily challenged me: "You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us." When I did, not one hand went up.

I was stunned. These were good kids; I had grown attached to them over the school year. It hit me that these students, at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, understood what I knew too well: The lack of a father in their lives had undermined their education. The young man who spoke up knew that with a father in his house he probably wouldn't be ending 12 years of school in the bottom 10 percent of his class with a D average. His classmate, normally a sweet young woman with a great sense of humor, must have long harbored resentment at her father's absence to speak out as she did. Both had hit upon an essential difference between the kids who make it in school and those who don't: parents

My students knew intuitively that the reason they were lagging academically had nothing to do with race, which is the too-handy explanation for the achievement gap in Alexandria. And it wasn't because the school system had failed them. They knew that excuses about a lack of resources and access just didn't wash at the new, state-of-the-art, $100 million T.C. Williams, where every student is given a laptop and where there is open enrollment in Advanced Placement and honors courses. Rather, it was because their parents just weren't there for them -- at least not in the same way that parents of kids who were doing well tended to be.' [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

Why is it always somebody else's fault? Always. Having lived in Africa, I can honestly say that the droves of little kids who wandered past our house every morning at about eight had every disincentive you can think of not to go to school. Many of them had to walk eight, ten, twelve or more miles before classes. Many of them had either no shoes, or next to no shoes. Many could not afford more than one book. But their happy smiling faces remain with me to this day. They had a buzz for school!

'My daddy is a waster' is just another in a long, dismal succession of excuses why dark-skinned boys (and many dark-skinned girls) do so badly in the American (and British) education systems- a fact which no one disputes. The bulk of the reason, in my experience, is the terrible associations education has in Black culture, as opposed to Anglo-American culture, or Korean culture, or Chinese culture. In Black culture, the highest accolades and the very topmost cultural kudos are given to thugs, thieves and anti-American-culture posturers. Kanye West, Fifty Cent, Tupac, Mos Def, Talib and hundreds of others at the pinnacle of Black culture reinforce the message day after day. Stand up to The Man. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and many other 'politicians' advocate not individual achievement, but 'race identity' and how much you are owed by whitey.

Black culture is also extremely macho. Given the overwhelming scorn that Black culture has for nerdy swots and bookish types, how surprising is it no young black boy wants to be one? You can go out for football, no problem. That doesn't have a macho image problem. But to accomplish great things in class? Forget it. Hopelessly milquetoast.

Its true that dark-skinned Americans, because of the extremely macho nature of Black culture, also has a severe lack of stay-at-home have-a-job dads. But so does poor white America. And yet many more poor white Americans end up with University degrees, or doing great work in the Business world. And that is because even poor white culture in America is not necessarily anti-intellectual. Some poor whites are, some aren't.

But for as long as dark-skinned Americans stick with Black culture, they are going to continue to decline in most measurable ways with all the other colorations of American.

At least one aspect of this is not the fault of young dark-skinned Americans, of course. Universal education makes education vastly less attractive to children. Anything you have to do, which everyone else is doing too, becomes a chore, hard work, drudgery. The one critical thing about education in Zimbabwe- you went to school if you were fortunate, and didn't if you weren't. Many children lived too far away from a school to walk to one. So the ones who got to go treasured every minute, and sucked up the knowledge like happy sponges. When I become dictator of the world, the first thing I will do is make all education voluntary, rather than mandatory. Just so you know....

1 comment:

Sophist said...

"And yet many more poor white Americans end up with University degrees, or doing great work in the Business world"

Have you got a source for that? The opposite is now the case for the UK:

"Even [poor] black Caribbean boys, the subject of any number of initiatives, do better at GCSEs, the exams that pupils take at 16 or so [than poor white boys]"