There is a popular stereotype that Asians are academically oriented, very smart and usually at the top of their classes. Hasn't everyone heard someone make a nerdy Asian joke at some point in his or her adolescence or teenaged years? But those jokes seem mostly to associate Asians with left-brained subject matters. Asians are typically assumed to excel in math, science, or accounting. Is it also typically assumed that Asians rarely pursue creative or artistic majors? Satoshi Kanazawa, evolutionary psychologist from the Interdisciplinary Institute of Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science, claims that Asians are fairly devoid of creativity, despite their high IQs. While yes, this is only one man's opinion, apparently many Asians are aware of their lack of creativity.
For the most part, in Asian countries like Japan, China and Vietnam, education is viewed by the public a direct path to your future. You are enrolled in school to do your best academically, not to develop creativity. It is regimented and disciplinary, and the students are taught how to effectively study. So their lack of creativity is known, but not considered negative or a problem.
This mindset and work ethic has statistically placed Asian-Americans in higher percentages for income, and normally in lower percentages for poverty. So, this lack of creativity is certainly not holding them back from doing well financially.
In America, high school seems to be getting more and more lax, with new people every year making more excuses for why being hard on students isn't conducive to the "learning environment."
So while Japan and China demand obedience and success from their adolescents, America coddles their youth and even does away with sports team cuts saying, "everyone should be able to play!"
But ideas might be shifting. Recently, China has shown signs of reaching out to America to channel some of our creativity.
Bonnie Lavin, Upper Division Dance Teacher at Brentwood School in Los Angeles, Calif., remarks on plans for the Brentwood Dance Company, which she directs, to do an exchange with Chinese high-school students.
"They've gotten to a point in China where their recent capitalistic attitude has created a need for innovators. They are very highly disciplined and structured but there's very little room for creativity. Their curriculum lacks problem solving and critical thinking," says Lavin.
Yes, the Chinese are self-proclaimed communists, but in reality, they're a huge player in the capitalist world, and they can't rationally claim that they haven't adapted to capitalism. Lavin continues explaining that, "capitalist entrepreneurship is driving Chinese people to seek ways to learn how to be creative. They see it happening here, so they realize that creativity and art and music are a part of our curriculums. They are incredibly talented at becoming master musicians and artists, but to incorporate music and art with academics and their regular curriculums is new. So they've been looking at the performing arts in universities. They started in dance."
Lavin explains that exchange programs are becoming popular, and that Chinese dancers are often fascinated with what American students create and choreograph; That there is a fundamental difference in style between both countries. China displays an artful attention to detail and immaculate replication of traditional dances, while American students create pieces that are fairly original, abstract and unique. They both have worlds to learn from each other.
As the world becomes increasingly more globalized, Americans are somehow still stubborn at acknowledging other countries good qualities and incorporating them at home. If China is ready to adopt American creativity, maybe American's could use a little regiment.