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The Asian American Educational Experience: A Source Book for Teachers and Students

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The wide-spread perception of Asian Americans as a “model minority” does a profound injustice to Asian Americans and to all other minority groups in America as well. This text examines three main points associated with the myth of the model minority:

1. How did this stereotype come about?
2. What purpose does this misconception serve, and who benefits from its perpetuation?
3. In what ways does this stereotype continue to do harm?

A series of articles from the book reveal the facts behind the myth and provide insight into the manner in which pedagogical practice has accommodated the myth. As shown in these articles, which are of particular interest to teacher educators, preconceived notions about the academic strengths and weaknesses of Asian/Pacific Americans are played out daily in elementary and secondary school classrooms through teacher expectations and teacher-student interaction, and in the offices of guidance counselors by directing Asian/Pacific Americans toward colleges and majors through race-based assumptions of aptitude and interest.

As elucidated in The Asian American Educational Experience, contemporary issues in the education of Asian/Pacific Americans are framed, in equal measure, by the history of Asian immigration and discrimination in America, by past battles waged for educational freedom in the Asian American community, and by the current sociopolitical context in which we live. Each of these components is examined in this text, beginning with a historical perspective. As a teacher who promotes cultural diversity by providing information on the immigrant experience in America, I find the early articles in this text particularly relevant. They examine policies of institutionalized discrimination and exclusionary practices in education relating to early Chinese and Japanese immigrants. Of further significance in my own courses are the articles by John N. Hawkins and L. LingChi Wang detailing the power of political activism and community mobilization in bringing about social change.

Because the text lacks a singular voice to draw correlations between historical and contemporary experiences and to place the examination of Asian/Pacific American education in a theoretical context, readers are left with a text that is sometimes redundant and disjointed in its presentation. Despite its limitations, however, The Asian American Educational Experience provides important material for teacher educators. It makes its largest contribution to scholarship in its extensive annotated bibliography detailing contemporary writings on Asian/Pacific American educational research.