People often think that Asian kids are better at math, so much so that it is basically a stereotype.
One day, when I was a young research fellow, I was working in the laboratory, and a Caucasian professor came by. He saw me, and exclaimed “Chinese! I have a math problem! You can solve my problem.” I defended myself, “my math is very bad; not every Asian is good at math.” He refused to take that excuse, and dragged me over to his desk, where he was struggling with an equation. He insisted I look at the problem, which I did. In a few minutes, I made a suggestion, “if you move that number over from the left to the right side of the equation, it should work.” And it did, to my own surprise, and he was stuck in his stereotype.
有一天， 当我还是一位 年轻的研究员时，我正在实验室工作， 一位白人教授从我身边经过。 他看到了我就喊： “中国人！我有一个数学问题！你能解决 我的问题。“ 我自卫道 ,”我的数学很差；不是每一个亚洲人数学都好的。 “他拒绝接受我的这个借口，并把我拉到他那费力解方程的书桌前。他坚持要我看一看这道题目。 我就看了一下。 几分钟后， 我做了一个建议 , “你若将右边的数字移到左边的方程式， 应该就可以运行了”。使我吃惊的是真的可以了,他却陷在他的模式化观念里。
Every population has its own “Gaussian curve” of the distribution of math expertise, and I’m sure I’m on the low end of that curve. I went to a British school in Hong Kong, and I have no question that the kids that went to the Chinese school had a different curve altogether. They were always better in math than we were, even though we probably had similar genetics, sort of. So it would not seem to be a DNA issue.
每一种人口都有它自己独特的数学技能分布“高斯曲线”， 而我敢肯定我是处于在这条曲线上的低端。 我在香港读的是英国制”国际学校“（如同现在中国的美国制“国际学校”）， 我可以毫疑问地说上:“中文学校”的孩子们有不一样的高斯曲线，他们的数学总是比我们好。尽管我们也许应该有着类似的差不多的遗传。 所以这似乎不是DNA 的问题。
It’s pretty clear it’s likely to be mostly a matter of “sitting still.” For example, Asians seem to be doing particularly well in piano and violin, subjects that require sitting (or standing) very still. You can call that discipline, obedience, or culture. But that’s how most Asian kids grow up, even in the Western world. “Sit still!” Is a great guide to life. You really need to “sit still” to do good math!
很明显这大概是与“静坐”最有关的事。比如， 亚洲人钢琴和小提琴特别好，这些都需要静坐（或静站）。 你可以把这些叫做 纪律，服从 或文化。 但是大多数亚洲孩子们都是在这样的文化中长大的，甚至在西方世界里也是这样。 “坐好！” 是一种很好的生活指导。 你实在需要“坐好”去把数学做好！
Another “secret” is that Asian parents love to play math games with their kids, from the moment that they can talk! You might be amazed at the games that they play with their children, like multiplication tables that you thought kids should only learn at age 7, but Asian parents have not heard of that rule. So when these kids really are at age 7, they are way ahead of the other kids in school, and the head start that they have with math is like the proverbial mathematical “compound interest” in their brain, just getting further and further “ahead.” Possibly this is another variation on Malcolm Gladwell’s comment that one has to spend at least 10,000 hours to be really good in any specific area of expertise, and guess what you could do if you started “early and often.” On a personal note, definitely my American-born mother never compound interested my math brain.
另外一个“秘密”是 亚洲家长喜欢与他们的孩子们玩数学游戏，从孩子们刚能说话就开始了！这些家长和他们的孩子玩的游戏 可能会使西方人很惊奇,像乘法口诀表,西方人的孩子应该在七岁时才学的乘法口诀表,亚洲家长还没听过这个规定。 所以当亚洲孩子到了七岁时,他们已经远比西方学校的其他同龄孩子跑在前面了.他们在数学上有着的优势就像数学谚语的“复利”在他们的脑子里,越来越“领先”。这也许是Malcolm Gladwell马尔科姆对至少花一万个小时才能取得任何一个领域技能的评论的另一种变体，并且相像你若开始得“早和多”你将能做什么。 作为一个个人的注释， 我敢肯定我那在美国出生的妈妈从来没有复利我的数学脑筋。
In the book “Outliers” by Gladwell, the author claims that the supposedly superior mathematics skills in Asians is related to the Chinese way of counting in units of 10, might simplify the mathematics logic, Also, it is much faster to say numbers in Chinese, which are basically mono-syllabic, compared to counting in English (which includes time wasting numbers like se-ven and e-le-ven). And the shorter the time interval, the easier it is to remember. This explanation might be so in those who use Chinese to count, but does not explain Asians who use English and other languages, who still seem to have an “edge” in mathematics related subjects.
“不同寻常Outliers”这本书的作者Gladwell格拉德韦尔指出，亚洲人有着超极的数学计算功能是与中国人用十作单位数数的方法有关，这也许简化了计算逻辑。 还有， 用汉语数数比用英语数数快得多！因为 基本上那都是单音节，而英语数子浪费时间(像 se-ven 和 e-le-ven)， 区间越短越容易记忆。这个解释也许对用汉语数数的中国人实用， 但对于用英语或其他语言的中国人不一定行得通。这部分人视乎在与数学相关的学科上有一点“边缘”差距。
I spent a significant part of my medical career doing clinical research. Somebody should really do the classical “randomized controlled trial,” teaching one identical twin, mathematics in infancy, and the other twin in elementary school, and clinch this debate. Except the “handicapped” twin might decide later to sue the researcher! It would be simpler than teaching one twin, math in Chinese, and the other math in English, at least.
我的医学生涯中很重要的一部分是做临床研究。有人真的应该做传统的“随机控制实验”，教一对双胞胎婴儿的其中一个数学， 而另一个等到他（她）长到小学年龄 开始教数学， 然后做这个结论。除非那“残疾”双胞胎 也许以后会决定告这个研究员！至少比用汉语教双胞胎的其中一个 数学而 用英语教另一个数学 的实验简单多了。