An interesting study came across my desk; it was a study of multi-racial group of high school students by Grace Kao in 2000, which revealed that different student groups define success in different ways. In the study, three racial groups defined success in three different by. White and Asian define success as earning high grades, African-Americans define it as not failing and Hispanic students define it as attaining a white-collar job.
Groups and organizations are the building blocks of society. In this study the group being the different types of races and ethnicity in American Society. Everyone wants to be proud of his or her background, origin, ethnicity and race. Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed a change in the way American Society has viewed this. With many new songs and slogan coming out saying “Proud to be an American”. This is a change from our cultural norm.
In the way that American society defines race and ethnicity I believe starts at a young age and is created by where you live. For instance those that live on the east coast, west coast, Midwest, south, Deep South, Texas (yes sometimes I think Texas still thinks it is a country of their own), Rockies etc. has a different perspective on life. What I am getting at is self-perceptions are created from your upbringing. Some parts of the country are still to this day segregated while other parts are a mixing bowl. This can have a great influence on how you can view success.
Looking at students in the case study, students always look for praise from their families. This is a learned trait passed down from generation to generation. In the case study, White and Asian student define success in school as earning high grades. Is this what pleases their parents? Peers? What does high grades mean for them? Scholarships into colleges? Being able to go to College? The case study also states that African-American students define success as doing as well as other black students and not failing. Is this what their parents wanted? Is this just not another trait that was passed down to them. The case study also states that Hispanic students define their success by attaining a white-collar job in an office after graduation. Is this what their parents hopes and dreams are for themselves?
Educators can hope to change / expand on these perceptions. Every group has a positive outlook on what is success. Getting good grades, doing well, not failing, and getting jobs are all important to the success. We can educate the students by showing them how to use these skills their learn in school and apply them to life. We can teach students that success is measured by the happiness and being able to provide for one’s family.