August 20, 2012

Being Asian and bad at math

I know what people are thinking. An Asian who struggles with math? Gasp!  This must be an oxymoron. But in fact there are Asians that find math difficult, I happen to be one of them.

"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same..." -Marianne Williamson

Stereotypes regarding physical appearance and numerous other sweeping statements have been made about Asians. And at one point or another Chinese adoptees may feel the sting of these broad and sometimes untrue statements. When I was younger I didn't feel "smart" enough to be Asian, just because I did not excel at mathematics. Kids would come up to me and ask for homework help just because I looked as if I would be "good at math". I was ashamed and embarrassed that I couldn't help them. I felt inadequate and quite stupid. This was detrimental to my self esteem,  for years I never felt that I was smart enough. Things have changed as I have matured. I have learned to not listen to other kids and the silly things that they sometimes say. 

A word of advice to parents: 

Kids can be really mean. I didn't know I was being stereotyped or bullied, I thought I WAS THE PROBLEM, and so I never told my parents.  By the way I love my parents with all my heart and they did everything right! Please explain stereotypes to your children so that your child will understand that he or she is not the problem and that the statements are NOT true. They are simply stereotypes. 

A word of advice to kids: 

You are brilliant, talented, special, unique and amazing! Don't listen to silly things  that other  kids say about you. Be proud that you came from such a rich and wonderful culture.  Be proud of your adopted culture too. Always remember that Chinese children are some of the most beautiful children in the world. 



  1. I can relate with you. :) I'm also one of those Asian who doesn't love math. I'm gifted with other talent but not the mathematical abilities. Great post. :)

  2. Oh yes, the "Asians good at math" stereotype. I know this one well. (Not so skilled at Math either! :) ) That fits into the larger one of the diligent asian who studies hard. Most of the time I don't mind it, but sometimes it gets to me, especially when people talk about it too much. Great post!

  3. Never been good at math or particularly liked it. I honestly don't care and don't think it's anything to be ashamed no matter what your racial or ethnic background is.

    Seriously who needs to learn all the math school teaches you anyway? People who do lie math aren't successful anyway! :)

  4. I relate with you so well, I was not a good math student. I almost failed Algebra Honors 2 because I had the delusion that if I studied hard I would be on everyone's par, but alas that was not the case, and I ended up getting heavily bullied by my peers and my teacher for just failing to fill the stereotype.

    I have always leaned more towards creativity, though, but I still feel that I failed as an "Asian" to achieve things others could do...