admiration was based on far more than acclaim for assiduous study. On a different institutional basis, in the United States, similar goals were widely accepted.
Nevertheless, in the United States and elsewhere, a far-ranging debate arose over the sources of Chinese American academic attainment. Peculiarly, only one aspect of the issue was considered: It was supposed by some that Chinese Americans were, across the board, high achievers. Discussion among educators and others simply omitted mention of Chinese Americans who were low achievers. Having thus narrowed the span of concern, high academic achievement was then equated with being Chinese or Chinese American. (Presumably, those with low achievement were less Chinese or even un-Chinese.)
Contemporary American educational and general commentary seems to regard Chinese of low achievement as an oxymoron, a self-contradiction in terms that is outside the pale of academic discussion. Yet, in China itself--the most Chinese of all locations--school authorities readily attest to pupil failure and slowness in learning. As we saw previously, similar trends among Chinese Americans are paid little heed in favor of sciolistic assertions about the distinctive attractions of learning among Chinese. Kwong courageously declared: "There is no truth to the belief that the Chinese have a greater respect for knowledge than other groups. . . . The claim linking Chinese achievement in education to Confucianism is a myth."135 This assertion is highly consistent with the historical record and is discussed further in other chapters.