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Filial Piety and Achievement - A Teacher's Perspective

Filial piety is, "is a virtue of respect for one's father, elders, and ancestors." This is a critical tenet in ancient Confucian philosophy and has significant meaning and importance in Eastern Cultures. In a broader sense filial piety means, "means to be good to one's parents; to take care of one's parents; to engage in good conduct not just towards parents but also outside the home so as to bring a good name to one's parents and ancestors."

My premise for this blog post is, "Cultures that exhibit high degrees of filial piety tend to have more academic achievement than those that don't." I submit to you that cultures that emphasize COLLECTIVE success instead of INDIVIDUAL success tend to have more academic achievement. There is something critically and vitally important to having the generational support of immediate and extended family at home. It is not necessarily quantifiable or measurable, but I believe that this is a crucial element missing in the US education system. I believe that the emphasis on "me" instead of "we" has had a detrimental effect on our education system. This "crabs in a bucket" mentality has ultimately lead to the crumbling of the family unit and the weakening of our education system as a whole. 

Teachers everywhere can see that there's a new generation of students that have little to no respect for their parents. their grandparents, and especially their teachers. There is data to support my premise that there is a correlation between cultural respect and academic achievement. 

Let's take a look at some data from 2012.  "The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measures student performance in mathematics, reading, and science literacy. Conducted every three years, each PISA data cycle assesses one of the three core subject areas in depth." (National Center for Education Statistics). Check it out in more detail at National Center for Education Statistics

Eight out of the Top 15 countries are Asian countries that have the principle of filial piety firmly embedded and established in every areas of their daily lives. What about the other 7 countries? Culturally, how do they take care of their elders? Let's take a look at an article from USA Today

Read this article, Retired Seniors Have It Sweet. This article discussed the standard of living of retirees in Switzerland. The article also had this interesting infographic. 

You see a lot of countries appearing in both lists. The respect these countries have for their elders is inspiring. The value placed on their health, happiness and overall quality of life says a lot. Let's look at a research-based article on the extended family. 

In, "The Extended Family and Children's Educational Success." the author, Mads, Meier Jaeger, concludes that " the total effect of family background on educational success originates in the immediate family, the extended family, and in interactions between these two family environments." (Jaeger, 2012). You can read the article here, The Extendend Family and Children's Educational Success

Our parents and grandparents have a profound impact on how we interact with the world around us. Cultures that value the family capital that comes with our parents, and grandparents experience more success than those that don't. The family unit has become fractured, and because of that families have less and less to invest in their our children. These children come to school with an entirely new set of values and unfortunately, education, more often than not, does not seem to be something valued anymore. Folks are not focused on bringing honor to their families, they are more focused on bringing honor to themselves. Let's make a cultural shift and celebrate our immediate family, extended family and ancestors. Let's bring honor back to our houses so we can bring honor back to our schools. 


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