by Pawan Dhingra
Beyond soccer leagues, music camps, and drama lessons, today's youth are in an education arms race that begins in elementary school. In Hyper Education, Pawan Dhingra uncovers the growing world of high-achievement education and the after-school learning centers, spelling bees, and math competitions that it has spawned. It is a world where immigrant families vie with other Americans to be at the head of the class, putting in hours of studying and testing in order to gain a foothold in the supposed meritocracy of American public education. A world where enrichment centers, like Kumon, have seen 194 percent growth since 2002 and target children as young as three. Even families and teachers who avoid after-school academics are getting swept up. Drawing on over 100 in-depth interviews with teachers, tutors, principals, children, and parents, Dhingra delves into the why people participate in this phenomenon and examines how schools, families, and communities play their part. Moving past 'Tiger Mom' stereotypes, he addresses why Asian American and white families practice what he calls 'hyper education' and whether or not it makes sense. By taking a behind-the-scenes look at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, other national competitions, and learning centers, Dhingra shows why good schools, good grades, and good behavior are seen as not enough for high-achieving students and their parents and why the education arms race is likely to continue to expand.