Clarence Page's July 8 column at JWR ties the report out of Harvard that most of that school's black minorities are "West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples" to optimisim and hard work. I've tied Bill Cosby's recent remarks to hard work, and I agree completely with Mr. Page's assertion that optimism is key to that based on Dr. Seligman's research. Mr. Page writes:
I can offer the group one easy possibility, no charge: Immigrant kids work harder.
They work harder, in part, because their parents work harder — and their parents work harder because of their relentless optimism: Where others might see a dead-end job, immigrants of all colors see an entry-level opportunity.
Where others may see inequities, immigrants tend to see a ladder to be climbed. With a hyperoptimism, they move ahead, upward and outward, undeterred by discrimination, short-term poverty, substandard housing, lack of financial capital or any other barriers that fate throws in the way of their hopes and dreams.
And they pass this spirit of enterprise on to their children. A University of Chicago study in 1995, for example, found children from a variety of minority groups whose mothers are immigrants outperform students from their respective ethnic groups whose mothers were born in the United States. "Family optimism" about the future played a crucially important role in determining school success, according to sociology professor Marta Tienda, an author of the study.
And the more recent the family's arrival, the better the children perform, according to a study of Asian and Hispanic families by Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University social scientist whose latest book is "The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting."