X

Asians Are Good At Math – Reality, Myth, Or Plain Racism?

From mathematic to biology, from chemistry to physics, from theoretical to practical interventions – Asians are making their mark and it’s high time you start thinking how? Ever noticed a pattern in the results of any mathematic contest? Ever wondered why there are so many research papers being submitted by Asian countries? No, well you are not the first one to ignore this. We have been so used to celebrate the inventions of western scientist that we got used to the idea that all inventions are western.

Most of the time we ignore the fact that we are not making as much progress in the scientific world as our Asian counterparts and this is base of our problem. What could have been a healthy competition has turned into blatant ignorance. In case the achievement of the Asian professionals are highlight – they are mostly tainted with racism. Yes – I final said the word. With the recent stark evidences, we cannot ignore the fact that we still don’t have a cure for racism in our society.

Let me give you a recent example. The cases of Covid – 19 were first reported in Wuhan, China. It shake the basis of world economy. China was the first country to report the virus and the first to control it. Now as we are dealing with the consequences associated with the spread of Covid – 19 such as loosing job, poverty, deaths and much more – how many of us are thinking about how china was able to control it. Let’s just think about it, with the hub of virus, the largest population of the world was able to defeat a virus they don’t know much about. The answer to this question in strict control as well as intensive research. With the threat came the approach to solve it, from total shut down to multiple therapeutical approaches – China defeated the virus while we are still living under the protection of masks and calling Covid – 19 the Chinese virus.

When we go through the scores of different countries in math contests – Asians are performing better. They are academically better and have a stronger grasp of the concept. The reason of this outstanding performance if not limited to a single factor rather it is a combination of various factors that work together to make Asians better. The first factor is old and simple hard work – Asian are known to be hard worker. With centuries of oppression and being undervalued, they had to work extra hard to make their make and thus they embrace the quote that ‘hard work pays off’. In most of the international tests, a student have to fill a detailed questionnaire and by detailed I mean around 100 questions, with persistence and hard work Asians attempt those questions while western student gets bored and leave the questions unanswered. This is a clear example of the importance of persistence, concentration, and hard work in action.

The second factor is the parental involvement in the choice of academic career. Even though there is an ongoing debate about different parenting styles, it seems that Asians are doing something right! They have a significant role in the academic choices of their children. With the efforts of first few years when parent are teaching their children the basis of academics like alphabet and counting, they shape the mind of the child to put extra effort in the academics.

Another reason of Asians better in math is based on simple logic – they don’t get as much vacations as we do. A Japanese school year us 243 days long, the South Korean is 220, while the average American school years is just 180 days long. With longer school years, there is increased chances of learning something new. Even if the children are not learning anything new, they are revising what they have learned previously and hence they are getting better and better every day & there are more than 50 days of getting better each year!

Another reason for Asians being good at math is their numbers are easier. Take the example of this sequence, 4, 8, 5, 3, 9, 7, 6. Human have a 2 second span of memorizing the digits. If you speak English you are going to recall this number sequence right 50% of the time – if you are Chinese, you are going to get it right every time.
yī = one
èr. = two
sān. = three
sì = four
wǔ = five
liù = six
qī = seven
bā = eight

As we most easily memorize whatever we can say or read within that two-second span, you can learn the digits easily. Chinese digits are brief so they fit into 2 second memory loop and help you get them right every time! These are the facts that make Asian better in math and other subject. So the next time you want hear someone throwing a racist statement away at Asian – tell them what they are doing wrong and how they can get better too. After all tolerance and information is the only way out of this dire times.