Intro to “How to go to school like an Asian” (available on Kindle and Amazon)


Book Description
Curious about homeschooling?  Ever fantasized about swapping your kid for an Asian one, even if the Asian is a paraplegic?  Want to be Asian at school so you can win all sorts of awards, build robots named Tiffany, and get rejected by Harvard and Princeton but accepted at CalTech?  Did you write hate mail to Tiger Mom Cunt, Amy Chua?  Then this is the book on education for you!  The notorious Juice Nazi is back and ready to read your hate mail and death threats with his most offensive and triggering book since the banned on Amazon cookbook, How to Cook Like a Racist.  Here he breezily explains why Asians as the model minority isn’t a myth, it’s for real; why Filipinos, Indonesians, Thais, and Malaysians aren’t Asian unless they’re ethnically Chinese.  And why it’s better to commit suicide as a teenager than to become a lifelong heroin addict.  As a bonus, there are 20 exercises — lots of Math, of course — you can do to help you go to school like an Asian.  Ching Chong! 


Asians — not all Asians, I’ll define what I mean by “Asian” later — do better at school than do most other demographic groups (Jews are the exception). Take Asian Americans, they do so well that they’re handicapped when applying to top colleges in the US.

This is for 1995-2013, maximum score for each section of the SAT i s 800. 

Despite having the highest test scores (and grades, and the most impressive extracurriculars),[1] Asian Americans are accepted at the lowest rate for all racial groups. 

And not just in the US, Asians are similarly discriminated against elsewhere, such as in Malaysia, where the number of Chinese in universities is capped.[2] 

Asians are comparatively good at school

Why is that?  An “anti-racist” Marxist would explain Asian performance in school as the function of their economic wealth and pernicious stereotypes — Asians as model minorities to allegedly justify discrimination against underperforming minorities — that give Asians an unfair advantage at school.  That is, teachers are so racist that they subconsciously treat Asian students in a way (“Suzie Wong must be good at Math”) that gives them, but not Tyrone and Shaquana, an edge, especially in Math.   

Wealth has little to do with Asian performance — low-income Asian Americans score higher on the SATs than do high-income African Americans[3] — and there’s a chapter in this book on how ghetto Asian Americans overcome economic struggles to do relatively well in school.  The argument that some teachers are racially biased, that I agree with and have seen, though I don’t know how to measure its effect on student performance. From Yale University:

“According to new research by Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM, white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges.”[4] 

In other words, White liberals — aka “the armies of compassion” — tend to be nicer to Blacks and Browns than to others, such as Asians. What are the consequences of such patronizing behavior?  Is it detrimental to Blacks and Browns? Is it an example of the “soft bigotry of low expectations?”[5]          

Why write this book? 

I started to write this book when the 2020 pandemic shut down Washington state schools.  Parents were freaking out about having to homeschool their kids.  I saw this as an opportunity to correct some of the bad habits learned in school and to make homeschooling less intimidating and an attractive option to parents.  As a business owner seeking competent employees, the bad habits taught in school have been pissing me off since 2010 and have turned me into an anti-school activist. I’m tired of teaching employees to unlearn nearly everything they learned in school.    

Why bring race — Asian, or “White Adjacent” as the Woke put it — into a book about education?  Why not be race neutral during a time when any mention of race triggers lots of people?  Several reasons.  To begin with, this isn’t a book about race, it’s about culture and how different cultures approach education, life in general really.  So by “Asian,” I mean Confucian cultures — think Japan, the Koreas, China, Vietnam, and not Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines (unless they’re ethnically Chinese).  I’m not writing about how Asians, as defined by the United States government,[6]approach education because of the diversity in lifestyle, mindset, and results among geographically defined Asians.[7] I am writing about how and why a cultural group does as they do educationally. My aim here, at best, is to give readers an opportunity to compare and contrast different cultural approaches to education.  

Yet perhaps a book on education has to be, and unavoidably will be, a book about race, especially in racially charged 2021. Here are a few news headlines that’ll give you a sense of the centrality of race in discussions about education and pedagogy:

  • From The Wall Street Journal, April 14th, 2021:  Asian-American Parents Sue New York City Schools Alleging Harassment, Racial Bias — Activists say Education Department’s diversity agenda often overlooks Asian students.[8]
  • New York Times, August 27th, 2021: New York’s Private Schools Tackle White Privilege. It Has Not Been Easy.[9]
  • New York Times, April 29, 2021:  Only 8 Black Students Are Admitted to Stuyvesant High School — Once again, tiny numbers of Black and Latino students received offers to attend New York City’s elite public high schools.[10]
  • USA Today, November 12th, 2020: Federal appeals court upholds Harvard University’s use of affirmative action policies[11]
  • Brookings, December 1st, 2020: SAT math scores mirror and maintain racial inequity[12]
  • NY Post, April 24th, 2021: How parents are fighting critical race theory in NYC public schools[13]

So, education in the United States is hotly politicized and entrenched in identity politics. That said, it’s not my aim here to make sense of it and to take a position on school admissions, curriculum, and pedagogy. I will not, however, avoid using common tropes — the legendary work ethic of Confucian Asians, for instance — to talk about American education, however offensive they may be to some.  And I will provide Asian inspired exercises that can be used as a supplement to whatever curriculum the student is learning from.   

Finally, I insert race into this book because I’ve wondered if American educators, particularly the neo-Marxist ones, are racially biased when they assess the quality of a curriculum and education culture.[14]  For instance, liberal American educators cite Finland’s education system as the model for the US to follow, but not Singapore’s, even though they score significantly higher than Finland does, especially in Math.[15]  Why is that?  Why not model — with adjustments to suit social and cultural particularities — after the best in the world, instead of the best Western European nation?  Singapore, after all, seems to be a better and easier model to follow since the US has more in common with them than with Finland.  Consider:

  • Singapore, like the US, was a British colony and is influenced by its British legacy[16]
  • Singapore, like the US, is a multi-racial, multicultural, and religiously diverse nation[17]
  • English is the language of business and instruction in Singapore, as it typically is in the US (despite not having an official language)

Whereas Finland is, relative to the US and Singapore, racially and culturally homogenous, Finnish educators don’t have to deal with the same problems — racial tensions and diversity, for instance — American and Singaporean educators have to work with. 

I’m not calling anyone a racist yet. For now, I think the American liberal’s fetish for all things Scandinavian (Sweden’s anti-lockdown approach to the Covid pandemic excepted) — its political and social systems, lifestyles, education curriculum — has more to do with their ideological and lifestyle preferences than from a fear of the Yellow Peril: Asians as a threat to Western liberal lifestyles. But sometimes I wonder if the American education system is reacting to a perceived threat — the Yellow Peril — rather than doing what’s best for American students.  For instance, American education’s move away from rote memorization (e.g., of multiplication tables, historical names and dates, poems and passages) to promote “creative education and students” coincides with the popularization (during the 1980s) of claims that Asians are high scoring automatons incapable of originality and the Asian education system, which relies heavily on memorization, stifles creativity. Meanwhile, I’ve had to train employees to memorize the multiplication table because they don’t know what 7 x 4 is when the cash register breaks down. These aren’t drop-outs either, they’re graduating from high school with like 3.8 gpas, and some are college graduates. They’re not creative either, if you trust my judgment.  That’s why I wonder if Americans are reacting to a perceived threat instead of trying to learn from those who are doing better. 

If Americans are trying to learn from Confucian Asians, they haven’t done a good job of it.  Americans don’t understand Asians.  Few Americans, including journalists and government officials covering Asia, can even speak one of their languages.  But Asians (especially the Chinese, less so the monolingual Japanese) understand and learn from Americans very well, just as Sun-Tzu recommends they do in The Art of War.[18]  According to, for the 2019/2020 school year, there were 372,532 Chinese students in the US, and many of them were attending American high schools, public and private, day and boarding.  Some are attending American boarding schools as early as 5th grade.  Most of these kids graduate fluent in English and in American colloquialisms.  And most of them will NOT completely embrace American values, such as American worship (religious connotation intended) of democracy.  They’re in the US to learn about Americans and their institutions, not to be brainwashed. 

After finishing school and five years of working in the US, they bring back to China what they’ve learned about American culture, economy, education system…so people can decide what to incorporate into and what to leave out of the Chinese way of doing things.  Even China basher Tucker Carlson gave a shout out[19] to the accuracy of Chinese descriptions of a common American archetype, which you can find on the Urban Dictionary website:

Baizuo(白左,White Leftists)is a popular Mainland Chinese term coined for a specific subset of Westerners who are despised by most Chinese for their pretentiousness, hypocritical behavior and an overbearing sense of entitlement.

Baizuos are mostly characterized by their heavy use of political correctness and double standards to covertly advance their own material or emotional interests at the expense of others, while claiming otherwise from a self-assumed superior moral position. Some are truly non-malicious, but are too naive or lack the worldview to provide useful opinions or solutions to real societal problems.

Since most of these group is white (白)and left-(liberal) leaning(左), and thus the name.

Chinese guy: “Oh look, those Baizuos over at America are blaming us for not accepting their trash after our recent foreign garbage import ban. Don’t these fuckers ever understand they are responsible for cleaning their own shit instead of blame pushing all day long?– by Fap. April 28, 2019

Chinese people who know how to use words and phrases like “fuckers” and “blame push” aren’t just fluent in English, they’re eloquent in American.  The 2020 valedictorian from my high school is from Beijing and most who listen to his valedictory speech[20] would guess he’s as American as apple pie and fortune cookies.[21]The gap in cross-cultural fluency is outstanding.   

There are Americans who want to learn from Asians and not just dismiss them as inscrutable and unoriginal freaks.  Singapore Math, for instance, has been popular with American homeschoolers.  One of my aims here, then, is to help those who want to learn from Asians in a similar way to how Asians have been learning from Americans and Others.  That is, appropriate as needed, reject what doesn’t work, and focus on results instead of people’s intentions and feelings. 

Who the fuck am I to write a book about education?

I didn’t graduate from an elite high school (rejected from Deerfield Academy and St. Paul’s School). I wasn’t a star student at my second-tier alma mater, The Stony Brook School.  I did graduate from an elite college — The University of Chicago — but it was much, much easier to get into when I applied, no way they’d let my sorry ass in now. My grades were so bad at U of Chicago that I had to pay big bucks to get my grades high enough at a cash cow Master’s program to apply to PhD programs in Cultural Anthropology.  Put simply, I’ve never been the stereotypically high achieving Asian student, I’ve never lived up to expectations, mine or others.  I was the underachieving student who couldn’t consistently produce at the elite level. 

So why did I write this book and why should anyone read it?

This isn’t a follow-the-leader type of book.  This isn’t a memoir and you probably shouldn’t do as I’ve done.  It’s more anthropological, where I write out my observations about how Asians in general and elite students from all demographics approach schooling and education (schooling is not the same as education).  In other words, my primary purpose here isn’t to tell readers how to become superstar students. Rather, it’s to show why some are more likely to become superstar students, while others aren’t. And I’m not saying that one needs to be a superstar student to become a superstar in life.  Jack Ma, CEO of worldwide internet giant Alibaba and worth $50 billion as I’m writing this, was a terrible student, only able to get into one of the least reputable colleges in China. One of my former employers was a similarly bad high school student, and he became one of the leading vascular imaging scientists in the world, despite graduating from a low ranked college in China and  getting his PhD from a low ranked program in the US.      

That’s why part of me wants to show what it takes to do well in school, while another wants students to tell schools to fuck off. This tension — a love and hate of school — drives this book’s narrative and polemic.  This is a story about how to do well in school despite school, because there might be value in learning how to do well in fucked up environments. Most schools — up to the highest levels (PhD), are fucked up environments, just like anywhere else. Thou-Shalt-Not-Fetishize- Schooling, okay?               

Another consideration: what do you gain from a quasi-self-help and ethnographic book written from the perspective of someone who has never been a superstar in school or in life? I don’t know and would like to know.  Let me know via email:  Address me with “Dear Underachiever” in the subject line. 

How am I qualified to write anthropologically about superstar students, the Asian kind in particular? I grew up and went to school with them in three countries — the US (mediocre and racially divergent scores), Singapore (highest scores), and Taiwan (higher than US scores).  Some were poor, some were Crazy Rich Asians, most were somewhere in between. They and I have attended schools ranked from below average to the best in the world.    

And finally, I’ve been a teacher.  I’ve worked as a University of Washington Department of Anthropology graduate teaching assistant in charge of leading discussion sections and grading papers.  I’ve taught test prep at Princeton Review.  I tutored and significantly raised the Iowa Test scores of Black 4th graders at a Catholic school in Harlem.  So I’ve worked with a diversity of students from a teacher’s point of view.  

In summary, this ethnography of Asian Confucian values is informed by my experiences as a student, my expectations as a teacher, and what I want from employees as a business owner.

Is this a how-to-be-Asian book? Not necessarily and it’s up to the reader. Keep in mind that the Confucian way of living life has its disadvantages, and they’ll be discussed throughout the book. 

Summary of Chapters

The first chapter, You are NEVER enough!, is an  introduction to the Confucian values that underpin Asian societies and how Asians understand themselves in relation to these values.  Chapter two, How Asian are you?, tests how Asian you are.  Yes, you need to score 100% on this if you want to go to school like an Asian, anything less is unacceptable and would be un-Asian.  Chapter three, The soft bigotry of low expectations, is a primer on the mindset that may be hampering those who want to do well in school. 

We explore the typical American mindset in chapter four, The cult of above-average, to understand why Americans don’t do as well as Asians in school and life in general.  Chapter five, the Cult of Self Esteem, considers how the American obsession with self-esteem fucks them up and turns them into dopamine addicts incapable of performing at the elite level.  In chapter six, Ghetto Asians, fancy results, explores how Confucian values, not income status, is what pushes Asians to the top of the class. 

Chapter seven takes a look at Anglo boarding schools, and asks why they’re considered the gold standard of secondary schools.  What can we learn from them about education and why are they so popular with Asians, the Chinese especially?  Chapter eight asks, Are Asians creative?, and if there is a trade-off between high academic achievement and creativity, as some American educators think.  Chapter nine shows you How to go to school like an Asian.  You’ll learn about how Asians approach learning and studying.  Chapter ten, How to go to school like an Asian, the details

takes you on an educational journey from primary school to post-college from the point of view of successful Asians.  You’ll learn when they start studying for the SATs, when they take it, how they choose where to go to school, which courses and majors they prefer, and so on. 

Advice to Asian students is given in chapter eleven.  The purpose here is to address some of the shortcomings of the Confucian Asian approach to education and life.  Advice to American students is given in chapter twelve.  The purpose here is to address some of the shortcomings of the American approach to education and life.  Chapter thirteen, Academics explained, delineates the main and a few minor subjects taught in school and how you should weigh each in terms of importance so you know how to better focus your study.  Chapter fourteen answers Frequently Asked Questions about Asians, particularly in regards to their achievements and mental health. 

Chapter fifteen is a Summary of contrasts between Asian and American beliefs and personality traits.  It’s a summary of the first fourteen chapters, really.  Chapter sixteen, a Comparison of Asian schools to American schools, shows how different worldviews produce different education systems.  What sort of school would you create for your students?  

The appendix has two sections.  The first are a few questions from China’s college entrance exam, aka the “gaokao.”  Do Asian tests require more or less critical thinking skills than American ones?  The second section has fundamental academic exercises that I think everyone should do if they want to do well in school and otherwise.  Each exercise — most of them are appropriate for primary to secondary school students — includes a section on Math and one on language. 

You can read each chapter independently of the rest of the book as long as you read the Introduction and Chapter one first.  That’s where “Asian” and “American” are defined, this book won’t make sense without those definitions. 

Send questions and comments to  Address me in the subject line with: “Dear Underachiever.”  Enjoy! 

[1] From The Harvard Crimson, June 19, 2018, Court Filings Reveal Academic Strength of Asian-American Applicants to Harvard.  “SFFA’s documents also state Asian-American applicants typically garner higher academic and extracurricular ratings than do candidates of other races.” 

[2] Sowell, Thomas. “Affirmative Action in Malaysia.” In Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study, 55-77. NEW HAVEN; LONDON: Yale University Press, 2004.

[3] This is almost true of Whites in relation to Blacks too.  Consider these three observable facts from The College Board’s 2005 data on the SAT:

• Whites from families with incomes of less than $10,000 had a mean SAT score of 993. This is 129 points higher than the national mean for all blacks.

• Whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had a mean SAT test score that was 61 points higher than blacks whose families had incomes of between $80,000 and $100,000.

• Blacks from families with incomes of more than $100,000 had a mean SAT score that was 85 points below the mean score for whites from all income levels, 139 points below the mean score of whites from families at the same income level, and 10 points below the average score of white students from families whose income was less than $10,000.

[4] From Yale Insights, @  November 15, 2018, by Cyndney Dupree. 

[5] George W. Bush’s speechwriter Michael Gerson is credited with coining such phrases as “the soft bigotry of low expectations” and “the armies of compassion.”

[6] The US government defines “Asians-Americans” geographically.  That is, those with ancestry from Asia. 

[7] The Philippines and Indonesia scored well below the OECD average — 488 —  on the 2018 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)   test of 15 year olds.  Neither scored above 400.   

[8] By Lee Hawkins

[9] Michael Powell

[10] By Eliza Shapiro

[11] By Richard Wolf

[12] By Ember Smith and Richard V. Reeves.  Find at

[13] By Dana Kennedy

[14] Conservative educators such as those from Hillsdale College and homeschooling families (who tend to be conservative) have embraced Singapore Math partially because Singapore has the highest Math PISA (international test) scores.  

[15] 2018 PISA scores for Singapore: Reading/549, Math/569, Science/551; for Finland: Reading/520, Math/507, Science/522.  OECD average is Reading/487, Math/489, Science/489.  30 points = one grade level, so Singapore is two grade levels ahead of Finland in Math. 

[16] See the highly regarded “Raffles Institute,” Singapore’s elite high school, founded in 1823 by the British.   

[17] Singapore has four official languages: English, Chinese (written), Malay, and Tamil.  The US doesn’t have an official language, but English is its de facto official language with other languages, Spanish especially, widely used in social and family life. 

[18] “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

[19] Search YouTube for “Tucker Carlson Baizuo”

[20] Valedictorian Speeches Search YouTube for “Stony Brook School Valedictorian Speeches 2020”

[21] Fortune cookies were invented in the US by a Japanese American.  It’s a uniquely and quintessentially American invention, there’s nothing similar to it in China. 

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