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Asian American Resistance to Selecting Teaching as a Career: The Power of Community and Tradition

by June A. Gordon - 2000

In the face of noticeably low interest in K-12 teaching among young Asian American students, interviews first were conducted with undergraduate Asian American students in teacher education programs and then those same students conducted interviews themselves with a variety of Asian Americans in several California communities. Findings suggest the pivotal influence of the traditional Chinese role of teachers in undermining the confidence and interest needed for the choice of a K-12 teaching career by Asian Americans. The main sources of resistance to teaching as a career were identified as: intense pressure from parents to strive for positions perceived as having higher status, greater financial rewards, and stability; a sense of personal inadequacy due to standards set by Chinese culture for what it means to be a teacher; and fear of working outside a comfort zone defined by language, diversity, respect, responsibility for other people's children, and separation of private from public selves. The majority of informants saw race-matched teaching as not valuable or necessary. Differences in American and Chinese traditions of K-12 education are discussed.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 102 Number 1, 2000, p. 173-196
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10364, Date Accessed: 9/24/2021 1:39:30 AM

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About the Author
  • June Gordon
    University of California, Santa Cruz
    E-mail Author
    June A. Gordon is Assistant Professor of Education at UC Santa Cruz. She conducts research on the role of class and ethnicity in the selection and preparation of teachers for urban schools in the United States, Japan, and England. She is the author of The Color of Teaching (Falmer Press, to be published February 2000).
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