Immigrant Intelligence in the Classroom

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If someone were to ask you what attributes the model student in a classroom setting has, would “immigrant child” come to mind? When we think of the high achieving students in a classroom, we tend to think of those that are US born and fully immersed in American culture since birth. Many believe that children that immigrate to the US at a young age tend to not fare as well as their native born counterparts due to the culture gap some immigrants might encounter while transitioning into a new environment. However, studies show that “children who immigrate to the United States with their families are likely to outperform kids with a similar background who were born here” (Dye,

The success of immigrant students often stems form the high academic standards immigrant parents impose on their children. Parents that immigrate to the US work hard to reach the American Dream for their families, and in turn pass this motivation and determination on to their children (Lilley, The children are taught from a young age that to be successful means working hard, and the children take these lessons to heart and adopt their parents’ success mentality for school. Because their parents made sacrifices to provide the children with a better life and better opportunities, they feel the need to become the best students they can in order to make their parents’ efforts worth it.

Many immigrant children also face identity crises upon their arrival in the US as a result of their transition into American culture and customs in new schools.  As children, many immigrant students have the desire to belong to a group and fit into their new environment. Immersing themselves in their schoolwork and learning English facilitates many immigrant students’ ability to identify with the native born Americans. As a result, they gain a sense of belonging while also getting ahead of the academic curve (Lilley). Children recieve the attention of classmates and teachers alike when they immerse themselves in academic work, and thus achieve both assimilation and superior grades.

The discriminatory nature of Americans created the stereotype of illiterate and uneducated immigrant youth, one that people find hard to give up. Yet the children of immigrants prove us wrong with their excellent grades and outstanding academic abilities, all of which we should recognize and appreciate for their full value and the benefits they bring to our youth and educational system.

Works Cited

6 responses to “Immigrant Intelligence in the Classroom

  1. The idea that immigrant children do excel and perform well in the classroom is very heart-warming. However, when you state, “as children, many immigrant students have the desire to belong to a group and fit into their new environment”, I wonder are these children that assimilate losing their homeland culture? Another question I wonder is if these children as losing their homeland country are they losing a part of themselves? Moreover, as these children continue to excel and perform well in the classroom will they forget their homeland culture and only associate themselves with Americanized customs?

  2. I also believe in the importance of reducing discrimination towards immigrant children to improve their educational opportunities. Do you have any suggestions as to what kind of initiatives the government can put forth in order to help disadvantaged immigrant children receive a better education?

  3. I agree with the fact that some immigrant children can excel in school. However I feel that you are looking at it through an optimistic perspective maybe define some barriers that these children overcome that explains why some immigrant children are not as successful. Also it would help to clarify what immigrants you refer to. Do Asian Americans succeed as much as Latinos?

  4. I think you bring up a good point that immigrant children learn to value hard work through their parents. However, it would be even better to expand on the concept of acquisition of English as an important factor in immigrant children’s academic success. This could also help explain the stereotype you present in the final paragraph. Americans often assume that immigrants are unsuccessful in school because they lack the language skills to keep up. Acknowledging this flaw as one of the roots of the stereotype would be beneficial to your argument.

  5. I could relate to the first half of your post perfectly. Whenever I talk to my Lola (grandmother in Tagalog), she always mentions how my cousins and I are “the fruit of her labor” because she worked so hard to bring my family to the United States. Along with that, she ALWAYS emphasizes education and hard work and nothing can make her happier than seeing her immigrant children and grandchildren excel in school. In response to previous comments and to contextualize myself, I never had a language barrier. However, I am simultaneously extremely disconnected from my Filipino culture. For example, my mom didn’t even try to teach me Tagalog. I suppose there is a trade-off there when it comes to assimilation and “homeland” culture.

  6. Although most have more of a motivation to do well because of all the sacrifices that their parents had to make in order for them to receive an “American” education, immigrating into America is just one factor in the source of their motivations. Immigrating into a new country can be impactful but it can impact people in various ways. It doesn’t always just involve school and being the best student.

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