Behind the Headline: Why Indian Americans Reign As Spelling Bee Champs

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Why Indian Americans Reign As Spelling Bee Champs
NPR | 5/29/12

Behind the Headline
Competition Makes a Comeback
Education Next | Summer 2010

Indian-Americans have won the last four National Spelling Bees and nine of the last 13. On NPR’s Morning Edition, Tovia Smith looks into the phenomenon. In the Summer 2010 issue of Ed Next, June Kronholz wrote about the growth of academic bees and bowls like the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the National Geographic Bee. “Americans thrive on competition. It’s why our phones are smarter, our farms are more productive, our athletes run faster, our pop stars are raunchier, and our lives tend to be better—except for the raunchy pop stars—every year,” June writes. “But American schools have been suspicious of competition for generations, and are generally horrified by the idea that success should be accompanied by a reward like a title, a trophy, or a cash prize. Knowledge is its own reward, after all.”

In a video that accompanies the article, Ed Next’s Marty West interviews George Thampy, an Indian-American who won the National Spelling Bee in 2000.

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